Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra

The Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra (also known in English as the SWR Baden-Baden Freiburg Symphony Orchestra and in German as the Sinfonieorchester des Südwestrundfunks) was a German radio orchestra located in the German cities of Baden-Baden and Freiburg.

The first incarnation of the orchestra occurred in 1946, initially with members of the discontinued spa orchestra of the city as the core of players. The revival of the spa orchestra two years later forced the reorganization of the radio orchestra. Subsequently, Hans Rosbaud was hired as the orchestra's first chief conductor. Rosbaud was already well known as a champion of modern music, and Heinrich Strobel, the music director in charge of the orchestra, shared this sympathy with contemporary music. Thus the orchestra had as its focus performances of modern music.[1]

The orchestra was first sponsored by Südwestfunk (SWF), a public broadcasting corporation headquartered in Baden-Baden. In 1998 SWF merged into Südwestrundfunk ("Southwest Broadcasting"), which took over responsibility for the orchestra. The orchestra's final chief conductor was François-Xavier Roth, from 2011 to 2016.[2] Michael Gielen, chief conductor from 1986 to 1999, had the title of Ehrendirigent (conductor laureate) with the orchestra.

In June 2012, the SWR Broadcasting Council voted to approve a measure proposed by SWR Intendant Peter Boudgoust to merge the Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, for ostensible reasons of budgetary limitations for two separate orchestras affiliated with the SWR.[3] The SWR Broadcasting Council formally passed the measure in September 2012, with the merger of the two orchestras scheduled to occur in 2016.[4] Protests at the decision resulted.[5] The orchestra made its first, and only, appearance at The Proms on 26 August 2015.[6][7] The orchestra gave its final concert, under the direction of François-Xavier Roth, on 17 July 2016 in Freiburg.[8] The name of the new orchestra is SWR Symphonieorchester.

One of the most widely heard recordings by this orchestra was Ligeti's Atmospheres conducted by Ernest Bour on the 2001: A Space Odyssey soundtrack. The orchestra has also recorded commercially for the Hänssler label, including music of Messiaen,[9] Bartók,[10] Stravinsky,[11] Schoenberg,[12] and Wolfgang Rihm.[13][14][15]


  1. Potts, Joseph E., "European Radio Orchestras: Western Germany" (September 1955). The Musical Times, 96 (1351): 473-475.
  2. "François-Xavier Roth verlängert Vertrag" (Press release). SWR. 14 February 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-12.
  3. Götz Thieme (2012-06-30). "Die Orchesterfusion rückt näher". Stuttgarter Zeitung. Retrieved 2012-07-03.
  4. "Fusion der SWR-Orchester beschlossen: Rundfunkrat stimmte mit großer Mehrheit für die Vorlage des SWR". Südwestrundfunk. 2012-09-28. Archived from the original on 5 January 2014. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
  5. Götz Thieme (2014-02-28). "Die Gräben sind tief, die Brücken schwach". Stuttgarter Zeitung. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
  6. Andrew Clements (2015-08-27). "SWR Symphony Orchestra/Roth review – Boulez explodes seductively with life". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-09-04.
  7. François-Xavier Roth, Prom 55, Royal Albert Hall, address to the audience, 26 August 2015.
  8. Alexander Dick (2016-07-22). "Mit dieser Fusion hat man es geschafft, ein Musik-Welterbe zu schleifen". Badische Zeitung. Retrieved 2016-07-21.
  9. Andrew Clements (2003-06-05). "Messiaen: Eclairs sur l'Au-delà: SWR Symphony Baden-Baden and Freiburg/ Cambreling". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-09-28.
  10. Andrew Clements (2006-06-29). "Bartok: Four Pieces Op 12; Violin Concerto No 1; Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, Ostertag/SWR SO Baden-Baden & Freiburg/Gielen". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-09-28.
  11. Andrew Clements (2006-09-14). "Stravinsky: Symphony in Three Movements; Symphony in C, etc, WDR Radio Choir Cologne / SWRSO Baden-Baden/ Gielen". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-09-28.
  12. Andrew Clements (2007-07-19). "Schoenberg: Gurrelieder, Diener/ Naef/ Smith/ MDR Leipzig & Bavarian Radio Choirs/ SWR SO Baden- Baden/ Gielen". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-09-28.
  13. Andrew Clements (2007-05-17). "Rihm: Music for Oboe and Orchestra; Styx und Lethe; Dritte Musik; Erster Doppelgesang, Ott/ Fels/ Schneider/ Fukai/ Grimmer/ SWR SO Baden-Baden/ Zender/ Gielen/ Latham-Koenig". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-09-28.
  14. Andrew Clements (2008-01-24). "Rihm: Dis-Kontur; Sub-Kontur; Lichtzwang, Negyesy/ SWR SO Baden Baden & Freiburg/ Cambreling/ Bour". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-09-28.
  15. Andrew Clements (2010-01-28). "Rihm: Quid Est Deus; Ungemaltes Bild; Frau/Stimme – Siebert/Fugiss/SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart/SWR SO/Cambreling/Goldmann/Gielen". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-09-28.

Chief conductors


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