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On 22 October 1881, the Boston Symphony Orchestra gave its opening concert, realizing the dream of its founder, the Civil War veteran, philanthropist, and businessman Henry Lee Higginson, who wanted his native city to have its own major orchestra. Among the first music directors were such figures as Georg Henschel, Arthur Nikisch, Max Fiedler, Karl Muck, and Pierre Monteux. Lasting from 1924 to 1949, for a quarter-century, the tenure of Serge Koussevitzky was a period in which the Boston Symphony Orchestra established its annual summer residency in Tanglewood, starting in 1937. Koussevitzky was succeeded by Charles Munch (1949–62), Erich Leinsdorf (1962–69), William Steinberg (1969–72), Seiji Ozawa (1973–2001), and James Levine (2004–11), who was the first American-born conductor to helm the orchestra. Since 2014, the Latvian maestro Andris Nelsons has held the post of Music Director; he has meanwhile extended his contract until 2022. In the 2017-18 season, he led twelve programs with a widely ranging repertoire, three of which were also performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, and he undertook his first joint tour with the orchestra to Japan. Since 2016, the British composer, conductor, and pianist Thomas Adès has been serving as Artistic Partner. The Boston Symphony Orchestra reaches an audience of millions each year through its concerts, which take place at Symphony Hall, as well as on tours and via radio and television broadcasts and Internet streaming. The BSO Youth Concerts aim to attract the audience of the future, while the Tanglewood Music Center offers one of the best training facilities for professional young musicians. The Boston Symphony Chamber Music Players and the Boston Pops Orchestra are two independent ensembles comprising musicians from the orchestra who are respectively devoted to chamber music and lighter music.
LUCERNE FESTIVAL (IMF) debut on 27 August 1979 with works by Bartók, Respighi, and Ravel conducted by Seiji Ozawa.