70 Years of the RTÉ NSO – In Pictures
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.
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/.
70 years of the RTÉ NSO
The Radio Éireann Symphony Orchestra with Principal Conductor Milan Horvat and leader Renzo Marchionni at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin.
Bassoonist Dieter Prodohl and timpanist Kure Goedicke on a train to Cork for a season concert.
Máire Larchet – viola player with the Radio Éireann Symphony Orchestra.
President de Valera with Igor Stravinsky on the composer’s visit to Dublin. Read our article on Stravinsky’s visit to Ireland here.
Geraldine O’Grady and Stravinsky at rehearsals in the St Francis Xavier Hall, Dublin.
Stravinsky and conductor Tibor Paul in the St Frances Xavier Hall, Dublin.
John Ronayne, leader of the Radio Éireann Symphony Orchestra.
Geraldine O’Grady, guest leader with the Radio Éireann Symphony Orchestra.
13 April 1967
The Radio Éireann Symphony Orchestra with Our Lady’s Choral Society performing Handel’s Messiah in Dublin Castle.
Albert Rosen conducts the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra in St Patrick’s Training College in Drumcondra, Dublin.
Cellist Hilary O’Donovan in rehearsals at the Gaiety Theatre.
Gerard Victory, composer and Director of Music in RTÉ, with conductor Albert Rosen at Dublin Airport.
3 March 1980
The RTÉ Symphony Orchestra at Dublin Airport before departing for a 13-concert three-week European tour.
Violinist Geraldine O’Grady and conductor János Fürst.
From right to left: Sebastian Liebig, Principal 1st Violins; Karl Sweeney, 1st Violin; and Catherine McCarthy, 1st Violin.
Caitríona Ryan, Section Leader, flute.
David MacKenzie, 2nd violin, and Elizabeth McLaren, 2nd violin.
Graham Hastings, Section Leader, trumpet.
Cellist Katie Tertell
2nd violinist Magda Kowalska
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.