Centennial Timeline

The beginning of the 2013-14 Season commemorated the celebratory 100th anniversary of the Houston Symphony.  Explore highlights from the rich history of our institution via the timeline below, and view a special Centennial video created by Official Television Partner KTRK-ABC Channel 13.

 

 

None of this would have been possible without philanthropic support. Make your gift today to celebrate 100 years of music-making.

  • June 21, 1913

    A trial concert of the Houston Symphony was performed at the New Majestic Theater, with Julien Paul Blitz conducting.

    - HS History

     
  • November 1, 1913

    The Houston Symphony Orchestra Association was formed, with Mrs. Edwin B. Parker as president and Miss Ima Hogg as vice president. The first season consisted of three concerts at the Majestic Theater. 

    - HS History

     
  • November, 1915

    The first concerts of the 1914, 1915 and 1916 seasons were given on Thanksgiving Day at the Majestic Theater.

    - HS History

     
  • 1918

    The orchestra disbanded toward the end of World War I, although the Association continued to sponsor concerts and guest performers.

    - HS History

     
  • 1921

    William Reher conducted an April concert by a newly organized Houston Symphony Orchestra in City Auditorium to an audience of 2,500. A 50 piece orchestra was planned for the 1921-22 season, and William Reher was hired as a conductor, but after an initial concert, the season was abandoned due to a pay dispute.

    Image: Records of the Redpath Chautauqua Collection, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

    - HS History

     
  • 1929-1931

    As Ima Hogg was making enquiries about a new conductor and visited orchestra managers in St. Louis and Cleveland, the Houston Symphony Orchestra Association sponsored a series of chamber concerts featuring the Boudreaux Quartet, led by future concertmaster Josephine Boudreaux.

    - HS History

     
  • June 4, 1931

    After two test concerts in 1931, the orchestra was reformed. Houston Symphony Orchestra Association President Joseph Mullen signed a letter agreement with Uriel Nespoli, who made $500 per concert as conductor for the 1931-32 season.

    - HS History

     
  • 1931-1932

    Six concerts were held at the Palace Theatre (formerly the Majestic) for the 1931-32 season. In 1932 performances moved to City Auditorium, where the Symphony played until 1954, except for one season. Concerts were held on Mondays until 1938.

    - HS History

     
  • 1932-1935

    Frank St. Leger was named conductor in 1932 and led the orchestra for three years.

    - HS History

     
  • 1937

    After one season of guest conductors, Ernst Hoffmann became the new conductor for the 1937-38 season.

    - HS History

     
  • 1937

    Miss Ima Hogg founded the Women’s Committee, which later became the Houston Symphony League. With the stated purpose of promoting ticket sales, the new group replaced the Houston Symphony Orchestra Association's Auxiliary Committee.

    - HS History

     
  • 1937

    HS began a series of special student matinee concerts coordinated with Houston Independent School District. By 1956, there were 6 pairs of concerts with an average attendance of 3,000. In 2013-14, an estimated 42,000 grade students from HISD and other districts are participating in the David Dewhurst Student Concert Series.

    - HS History

     
  • 1937 - 1938

    Hoffman did six "pop" concerts, modeled after the Boston Pops, but they were not successful and were discontinued until 1942.

    - HS History

     
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  • 1938-1939

    The first Texas tour of six cities was in the 1938-39 season, led by Ernst Hoffmann. 

    - HS History

     
  • August 1940

    The first Houston Symphony performance at Miller Outdoor Theatre was underwritten by a gift of cotton and real estate broker N. D. Naman. One more such concert was held that summer. The 1941 outdoor season at Miller Memorial Theater was six concerts, presented by the Public Music Association.

    - HS History

     
  • 1942 – 1945

    During World War II the orchestra maintained a busy schedule touring military bases throughout Texas and Louisiana. The first international venue for the orchestra was the 1943 Good Will Tour of the Houston Symphony Orchestra to Monterrey, Mexico. Tours of Texas cities continued until 1947, the last under the baton of conductor Ernst Hoffmann.

    - HS History

     
  • January 1944

    A combination wrestling Championship and concert to raise war bonds was held by the War Sports Activities Committee of Houston.

    - HS History

     
  • 1946

    A statewide competition for young soloists to play for radio broadcast concerts was administered by the Texas State Department of Education and sponsored by Texas Gulf Sulphur Company. Van Cliburn won the competition and performed for the Houston Symphony concert on April 12, 1947.

    - HS History

     
  • Spring 1947

    Ernst Hoffmann was released as conductor, and the HSS planned a season of visiting conductors, among whom were Carlos Chávez, Hans Schwieger, Maurice Abravanel, Frieder Weissmann, Leonard Bernstein, Georges Enesco, Walter Hendl, Tauno Hannikainen, Charles Munch, Efrem Kurtz, Frederick Fennell, Igor Buketoff, and Massimo Freccia. Efrem Kurtz was hired for the next season.

    - HS History

     
  • Fall 1947

    The first student competition, known as the Houston Symphony Student Auditions, (later known as Josie Tomforde Student Auditions,) was begun by a group of members of the Women’s Committee including Miss Ima Hogg, Josie Tomforde, Nettie Jones, Nina Cullinan, and Marjorie Carter, who ran the competition and acted as its judges.  Today the event is known as the Houston Symphony League Concerto Competition.

    - HS History

     
  • November 1, 1948

    The new music director Efrem Kurtz led the orchestra in a world premiere of the HS’s first commissioned work, Children’s Suite from The Red Pony, by Aaron Copland.

     
  • April, 1949

    The Houston Chorale performed Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the orchestra, under Efrem Kurtz, beginning its official affiliation with the Symphony. As the chorus did more work on a regular basis with the orchestra, the HSS provided salaries for the conductor and accompanist and bought music.

    - HS History

     
  • February 28, 1950

    The orchestra embarked on its first national tour under the leadership of Efrem Kurtz.  The tour included seventeen cities and ranged as far north as Chicago.

     
  • 1954

    New concert home moved from City Auditorium to the Music Hall.

    - HS History

     
  • Fall 1954

    Ferenc Fricsay became music director of the orchestra, but departed mid-season. His conducting duties were taken over by Sir Thomas Beecham.

    - HS History

     
  • November 20, 1954

    KTRK-TV Channel 13 aired the first television broadcast of the Houston Symphony, with Ferenc Fricsay conducting.

    - HS History

     
  • October 31, 1955

    The Symphony signed Leopold Stokowski for a three-year conducting contract, beginning in 1955. He led the symphony in the world premiere performance of Alan Hovhaness’ Symphony No. 2, "Mysterious Mountain." This was the first of three world premieres of Hovhaness’ work in the 1950s.

    - HS History

     
  • November, 1956

    Leopold Stokowski began the first of his recording sessions with the HS on Capitol Records with Glière’s Symphony No. 3 in B minor.

    - HS History

     
  • April 9-13, 1958

    Stokowski’s Carmina Burana was recorded by Everest Recording Company in the City Auditorium.

    - HS History

     
  • April, 1958

    The orchestra played the second performance and the American premiere of Shostakovich Symphony No. 11, "The Year 1905", with Leopold Stokowski and made the first recording of the piece.

    - HS History

     
  • 1961

    Sir John Barbirolli became principal conductor and led 24 of the 32 subscription concerts.

    - HS History

     
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  • October 2, 1966

    Jones Hall for the Performing Arts was dedicated with a Houston Symphony performance under the baton of Sir John Barbirolli. Composer Alan Hovhaness was present to hear his commissioned work, "Ode to the Temple of Sound." The old City Auditorium on this site had been demolished in 1963.

    - HS History

     
  • October, 1967

    André Previn began a three year tenure as Conductor in Chief and premiered his Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in Jones Hall. Principal cellist Shirley Trepel was the soloist.

    - HS History

     
  • 1971

    The Symphony signed the first 52-week contract with the musicians, up from 45 weeks. Lawrence Foster became Music Director and served until 1978.

    - HS History

     
  • 1980

    Sergiu Comissiona was Artistic Advisor until he was named Music Director in 1983

    - HS History

     
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  • 1988

    Christoph Eschenbach became Music Director

    - HS History

     
  • Summer 1991

    HS performed at the Pacific Rim Festival in Japan.

    - HS History

     
  • 1992

    The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion became the official Summer Home of the Houston Symphony.  

    - HS History

     
  • Feb / Mar 1997

    The Shell 1997 European Tour began in London and continued to France, Amsterdam, Germany and Austria.

    - HS History

     
  • June, 2001

    Tropical Storm Allison decimated Symphony offices in Jones Hall.

    - HS History

     
  • September, 2001

    Hans Graf assumed the Music Director post, serving 12 years until his resignation effective in 2013.

    - HS History

     
  • January 21, 2010

    The Houston Symphony gave the world premiere performance of The Planets – An HD Odyssey, a film commissioned from producer/director Duncan Copp to assemble high definition images from NASA’s exploration of the solar system to accompany Holst’s The Planets. NASA astronaut John Grunsfeld returned conductor Hans Graf’s baton which had accompanied Grunsfeld to space.

    - HS History

     
  • October, 2010

    HS toured the United Kingdom with sold-out performances of “The Planets – An HD Odyssey,” a collaboration with filmmaker Duncan Copp and NASA. This was the HS’s first film commission.

    - HS History

     
  • June, 2012

    The orchestra is invited as the first American orchestra to perform in Moscow for the Festival of the World's Symphony Orchestras. They played two concerts, featuring Shostakovich Symphony No. 11, "The Year 1905", for which the Houston Symphony gave the American premiere in 1958 and made the first recording of the piece with Leopold Stokowski.

    - HS History

     
  • January, 2013

    HS names Andrés Orozco-Estrada as Music Director Designate, to become Music Director in the 2014-15 season.

    - HS History

     
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