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Founded in 1900, the Philadelphia Orchestra can look back over a glorious history of 111 years. Throughout this entire period only seven conductors have held office as music directors. After Fritz Scheel and Carl Pohlig, Leopold Stokowski (1912–41) headed the orchestra, followed by Eugene Ormandy, whose tenure spanned an even longer era, until 1980. Afterward, the top position was held by Riccardo Muti (1980–92), Wolfgang Sawallisch (1993–2003), and Christoph Eschenbach (2003–08). The current chief conductor, Charles Dutoit, will be appointed to conductor laureate in 2012, when he passes on the reins to the young Canadian Yannick Nézet-Séguin. During the season between September and May, the Philadelphia Orchestra gives some 130 concerts in the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 2001. The musicians perform as well in annual residencies at New York’s Carnegie Hall, the Mann Center in Fairmount Park, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Upstate New York, and the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival in Colorado; they also make regular appearances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The Phila-delphia Orchestra has been responsible for a remarkable series of premieres: It has given the first American performances of such works as Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps, and Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder. It was the first American orchestra to undertake a transcontinental tour in 1936 and has similarly been a pioneer with performances in the People’s Republic of China (1973) and in Vietnam (1999). Following a major tour of Asia in 2010, the Philadelphia Orchestra is traveling across Europe this summer, with appearances at the Edinburgh Festival, the Musikfest Berlin, the BBC Proms, the Cité de la Musique in Paris, and elsewhere.
LUCERNE FESTIVAL (IMF) debut on 26 August 1982 in Schumann’s Fourth and Mahler’s First Symphony conducted by Riccardo Muti.