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NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra

NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
Radio orchestra
The NDR Sinfonieorchester
Native nameNDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester
Former nameNWDR Sinfonieorchester
Founded1945 (1945)
LocationRothenbaumchaussee 132
20149 Hamburg, Germany
Concert hallElbphilharmonie
Principal conductorAlan Gilbert

The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra (German: NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester) is a German radio orchestra. Affiliated with the Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR; North German Broadcasting), the orchestra is based at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Germany. Earlier the ensemble was called the NDR Symphony Orchestra (Sinfonieorchester des Norddeutschen Rundfunks), and was also known in English as the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra.


British occupation authorities founded the orchestra after World War II as part of Radio Hamburg (NWDR), which was the only radio station in what would become West Germany not destroyed during the war. The first musicians came mostly from the ranks of the old Nazi-controlled Großes Rundfunkorchester des Reichssenders Hamburg. Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, who was living near Hamburg, was given the task of assembling the members, something he accomplished over a period of six months. Schmidt-Isserstedt conducted the orchestra's first concert in November 1945, with Yehudi Menuhin as soloist. Schmidt-Isserstedt served as the first chief conductor of the orchestra, through 1971.

The orchestra first visited the UK in 1951, as part of the concerts celebrating the re-opening in Manchester of the Free Trade Hall.[1] In addition to its performances of the core classical and romantic repertoire by composers such as Beethoven and Bruckner, the orchestra also has a focus on contemporary works by Bernd Alois Zimmermann, Wolfgang Rihm and Hans Werner Henze. It rose to particular significance during the chief conductorship of Günter Wand, from 1982 to 1990. Wand conducted several commercial recordings with the orchestra for the RCA Victor Red Seal and EMI labels. The orchestra has also recorded for the Deutsche Grammophon and CPO labels.

Thomas Hengelbrock became chief conductor of the orchestra with the 2011–2012 season, with an initial contract of three years.[2] In January 2017, the orchestra took up its new residence at the newly opened Elbphilharmonie, and formally changed its name to the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester. In June 2017, the orchestra announced the scheduled conclusion of Hengelbrock's tenure with the ensemble at the close of the 2018–2019 season.[3]

Alan Gilbert had served as principal guest conductor of the orchestra from 2004 to 2015. In June 2017, the orchestra announced the appointment of Gilbert as its next chief conductor, effective with the 2019–2020 season, with an initial contract of 5 seasons.[4][5] He took the title of chief conductor-designate in the autumn of 2017.[6] In December 2017, Hengelbrock expressed his displeasure with the timing of the announcement of Gilbert as his designated successor, within the same month as the original announcement of the previously scheduled conclusion of his tenure. Hengelbrock thus announced his intention to stand down as chief conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra at the end of the 2017–2018 season, one season earlier than originally planned.[7]

Other principal guest conductors of the orchestra have included Krzysztof Urbanski, who served from 2015 to 2020. In February 2023, the orchestra announced the extension of Gilbert's contract as chief conductor through the summer of 2029.[8]

Principal conductors


  • 1998: Johannes Brahms Medal of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg
  • 2000: Award for best live performance in Japan
  • 2014: Grammy for the category "Best Classical Compendium" (Hindemith: Violinkonzert – Symphonic Metamorphosis – Konzertmusik op. 50)

See also


  1. ^ Potts, Joseph E., "European Radio Orchestras: Western Germany" (September 1955). The Musical Times, 96 (1351): 473–475.
  2. ^ "Thomas Hengelbrock wird neuer Chefdirigent" (Press release). NDR Symphony Orchestra. 27 March 2009. Retrieved 30 September 2009.
  3. ^ "Hengelbrock nur noch bis 2019 Chefdirigent". NDR. 19 June 2017. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  4. ^ "Alan Gilbert ab 2019/20 neuer Chefdirigent des NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchesters" (Press release). NDR. 23 June 2017. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  5. ^ Michael Cooper (23 June 2017). "Alan Gilbert to Lead NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra in Hamburg". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  6. ^ "Alan Gilbert named Chief Conductor of Hamburg's NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra". Gramophone. 23 June 2017. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  7. ^ "Nach Streit: Hengelbrock verlässt Elbphilharmonie schon 2018". Hamburger Abendblatt. 9 December 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  8. ^ "Alan Gilbert bleibt bis 2029 Chefdirigent" (Press release). NDR. 17 February 2023. Retrieved 22 February 2023.
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NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra
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