On today’s date in 1903, violinist and conductor Harry West led the very first performance by the Seattle Symphony. At that time, the orchestra comprised just 24 players. For their first program in Seattle, the aptly named Maestro “West” conducted the musicians in works by Schubert and Rossini, two long-dead classical masters, and also programmed works by three living composers: Max Bruch, Jules Massenet, and Pablo Sarasate.
Today, the Seattle Symphony has grown into a 90-member professional orchestra, and under director Gerard Schwarz has earned worldwide attention with its CD’s of both classical and contemporary works.
The orchestra has released critically acclaimed recordings of symphonic works by modern American masters like Howard Hanson, David Diamond, and Alan Hovhaness, as well as newer pieces by a younger generation of American composers including Richard Danielpour and Stephen Albert. With conductor Gerard Schwarz, the Seattle Symphony has made over 80 recordings, many of them nominated for Grammy Awards.
For its 2003-2004 centennial season, the Seattle Symphony commissioned six new orchestral pieces from composers Daniel Brewbaker, Chen Yi, John Harbison, Samuel Jones, Bright Sheng, and David Stock.