70 Years of the RTÉ NSO – In Pictures

1st violins of the RTÉ NSO with leader Helena Wood

70 Years of the RTÉ NSO – In Pictures

Celebrating 70 years this week, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra will perform a celebratory concert on Friday with a new work by Brian Byrne as well as works by Wagner and Deirdre Gribbin. Here, The Journal of Music is delighted to present a range of images from the Orchestra's illustrious history.

The Radio Éireann Symphony Orchestra – later named the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and then the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra – played its first concert on 14 February 1948. 

The Orchestra had grown from a small ensemble established at the outset of the national broadcaster in 1926.

By 1937, the Station Orchestra (as it was then called) had grown to twenty-eight musicians and, in 1948, the Government – in particular P.J. Little, the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs – gave approval to increase the Orchestra to sixty-two and to establish a ‘Light Orchestra’ of twenty-two players (the forerunner of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra).*

70th anniversary concert
This Friday, 16 February, the RTÉ NSO under conductor Gerhard Markson will celebrate 70 years with a concert featuring soprano Orla Boylan and pianist Finghin Collins. The programme includes the premiere of a 
specially commissioned fanfare by Brian Byrne, Seachtó; the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde by Wagner; and The Binding of the Years piano concerto by Deirdre Gribbin.

Friday night’s concert also marks the inauguration of the RTÉ NSO’s Side by Side scheme for young players of the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland. Fourteen members of the NYOI will perform alongside RTÉ NSO players in Byrne’s Seachtó and Wagner’s Prelude and Liebestod.

Speaking about Friday’s concert, Anthony Long, General Manager of the RTÉ NSO, said:

We’re delighted to mark seventy years of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, and to share this  wonderful occasion on Friday night with our audiences in the hall, on radio and online. The concert is a tribute to the contributions and achievements of generations of RTÉ NSO players over seven decades. We’re honoured to have several illustrious former players join us as special guests on the night. These include sisters Máire and Sheila Larchet. Máire played in our first concert in 1948 having been a member of the 2RN orchestra. Sheila returned from Liverpool to join the orchestra in 1949.

Review
In recent months, the future of the RTÉ NSO has been the subject of debate following the announcement by RTÉ of a review of orchestral provision. The review is expected to be completed by the end of February. For more, see here

70 years of the RTÉ NSO – in pictures
To celebrate 70 years of the RTÉ NSO, The Journal of Music is delighted to present a range of images below, courtesy of RTÉ, showing the Orchestra’s illustrious history. 

For information on upcoming RTÉ NSO concerts, visit https://orchestras.rte.ie/.

* Information from Pat O’Kelly’s 1998 book, The National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, 1948–1998 –  a selected history, published by RTÉ.

70 years of the RTÉ NSO

1953
The Radio Éireann Symphony Orchestra with Principal Conductor Milan Horvat and leader Renzo Marchionni at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin.

1953_Radio_E_ireann_Symphony_Orchestra_with_leader_Renzo_Marchionni_1953

1962
Bassoonist Dieter Prodohl and timpanist Kure Goedicke on a train to Cork for a season concert.

1962_L_R_Bassoonist_Dieter_Prodohl_and_Kure_Goedicke_timpanist_on_train_to_Cork_for_a_season_concert_1962

1962
Máire Larchet – viola player with the Radio Éireann Symphony Orchestra.

1962_Ma_ire_Larchet_viola_player_and_leader_with_Radio_E_ireann_Symphony_Orchestra_1962 

1963
President de Valera with Igor Stravinsky on the composer’s visit to Dublin. Read our article on Stravinsky’s visit to Ireland here.

1963_President_de_Valera_with_Stravinsky_on_his_visit_to_Dublin_1963

1963
Geraldine O’Grady and Stravinsky at rehearsals in the St Francis Xavier Hall, Dublin.

1963_Stravinsky_and_Geraldine_OGrady_at_rehearsals_in_St_Francis_Xavier_Hall_Dublin_1963 

1963
Stravinsky and conductor Tibor Paul in the St Frances Xavier Hall, Dublin.

1963_Stravinsky_and_Tibor_Paul_conductor_in_St_Frances_Xavier_Hall_Dublin_1963  

1965
John Ronayne, leader of the Radio Éireann Symphony Orchestra.

1965_no_watermark_John_Ronayne_Leader_of_Radio_eireann_Symphony_Orchestra_in_concert_1965

1965
Geraldine O’Grady, guest leader with the Radio Éireann Symphony Orchestra.

1965_Violinist_Geraldine_O_Grady_Radio_E_ireann_Symphony_Orchestra_in_concert_1965

13 April 1967
The Radio Éireann Symphony Orchestra with Our Lady’s Choral Society performing Handel’s Messiah in Dublin Castle.

1967_Radio_E_ireann_Symphony_Orchestra_with_Our_Lady_s_Choral_Society_Handel_s_Messiah_in_Dublin_Castle_13_April_1967  
1971
Double-bass player Herbert Nowak.

1971_no_watermark_Herbert_Nowak_double_bass_player_1971

1972
Albert Rosen conducts the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra in St Patrick’s Training College in Drumcondra, Dublin.

1972_Conductor_Albert_Rosen_conducts_RTE_Symphony_Orchestra_in_St_Patrick_s_Training_College_Drumcondra_1972

1972
Cellist Hilary O’Donovan in rehearsals at the Gaiety Theatre.

1972_Hilary_O_Donovan_cellist_in_rehearsals_for_1972_concert_season_at_Gaiety_THeatre

1980
Gerard Victory, composer and Director of Music in RTÉ, with conductor Albert Rosen at Dublin Airport.

1980_Gerard_Victory_and_Albert_Rosen_Dublin_Airport_1980

3 March 1980
The RTÉ Symphony Orchestra at Dublin Airport before departing for a 13-concert 
three-week European tour.

1980_RTE_Symphony_Orchestra_at_Dublin_Airport_3_March_1980_before_departing_for_a_13_concert_three_week_European_tour

1985
Violinist Geraldine O’Grady and conductor János Fürst.

1985_Violinist_Geraldine_O_Grady_and_conductor_Ja_nos_Fu_rst_1985

2018
From right to left: Sebastian Liebig, Principal 1st Violins; Karl Sweeney, 1st Violin; and Catherine McCarthy, 1st Violin.

Front_Sebastian_Liebig_Principal_1st_violins_Karl_Sweeney_1st_violin_Catherine_Mc_Carthy_1st_violin_RTE_NSO

2018
Caitríona Ryan, Section Leader, flute.

Centre_Caitri_ona_Ryan_Section_Leader_flute_RTE_NSO

2018
David MacKenzie, 2nd violin, and Elizabeth McLaren, 2nd violin.

David_Mac_Kenzie_2nd_violin_left_and_Elizabeth_Mc_Laren_2nd_violin_RTE_NSO

2018
Graham Hastings, Section Leader, trumpet.

Graham_Hastings_Section_Leader_trumpet_RTE_NSO

2018
Cellist Katie Tertell

Katie_Tertell_cello_RTE_NSO

2018
2nd violinist Magda Kowalska

Magda_Kowalska_2nd_violin_RTE_NSO

Listen to recordings by the RTÉ NSO below. For information on upcoming concerts, visit https://orchestras.rte.ie/performinggroup/rte-national-symphony-orchestra/

Pictures courtesy of RTÉ Archives.

Published on 14 February 2018

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