Greatest Symphonies in the US

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Music is a universal language that transcends time. As an intrinsic element of culture, it has had an enduring effect on lives and societies. Music has served a number of roles such as binding communities together, reaffirming values and philosophies, retelling oral histories, and being an emotional outlet. Music is essential to social and emotional interactions. It’s essential to being human. Ensembles of great musicians come together in symphony orchestras to showcase new compositions and interpret classic favorites. If music moves your soul and you’re flying into a major city on a chartered flight, purchase a symphony ticket and check out the local talent.

San Francisco Symphony Orchestra

The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra was established in 1911. Michael Tilson Thomas has led the symphony since 1995, making him the longest-tenured music director of any major orchestra in the U.S. The symphony is known for a polished sound that’s often theatrical, as well as its noteworthy Mahler recordings.

New York Philharmonic

The New York Philharmonic was launched in 1842, making it the oldest orchestra in the country and among the oldest in the world. It has won more than a dozen Grammy awards and connects with millions of music enthusiasts worldwide with digital recordings, tours, live broadcasts, and residencies. Since its founding, the New York Philharmonic has debuted or commissioned work from leading composers, including Brahms, Gershwin, and Dvorak. In September 2018, Jaap van Zweden will become the Philharmonic’s Music Director. He will celebrate innovative works, explore the response music has had to social issues, and introduce two new-music series.

Boston Symphony Orchestra

Founded in 1881, the classy and sophisticated Boston Symphony Orchestra was part of Henry Lee Higginson’s dream to have a great, permanent orchestra in his city. Higginson modeled Boston Symphony Hall after Musikverein in Vienna. The orchestra was the first to perform live on radio. Today, listeners enjoy performances on educational programs, television, the radio and the internet. Andris Nelson has served as its director since 2014.

Los Angeles Philharmonic

With a distinctive sonic personality, the Los Angeles Philharmonic offers performances at the Hollywood Bowl and Walt Disney Concert Hall, which are praised for their architecture. The Philharmonic was established in 1919 and offers more than 250 concerts annually in its main halls and beyond, including neighborhoods, local schools, and churches. Director Gustavo Dudamel has led the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 2005, gives classic pieces innovative interpretations and celebrates contemporary music.

Cleveland Orchestra

The Cleveland Orchestra, founded in 1918, is known for setting a standard of musical excellence, community engagement and concert programming in the U.S. Under the direction of Franz Welser-Möst, it’s also one of the most praised concert ensembles on the planet. The orchestra tours extensively across the country and abroad and has relationships with many leading orchestras. Welser-Möst’s regularly inspires and reinvents popular classical music while producing the trademark warm, refined sound that put the Cleveland Orchestra on the map.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

As one of the highest ranking ensembles in the country, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs more than 100 concerts in Symphony Center annually. The orchestra was established in 1891 and has a highly praise brass section that’s credited for causing tour performances to sell out quickly. Director Riccardo Muti maintains the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s high standards while bringing out a gleaming, brilliant brass sound that will remind you of a rich, deep European orchestra.

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