In 1780, because of complaints about concert conditions and audience behavior in the tavern, the mayor and city council of Leipzig offered to renovate one story of the Gewandhaus (the building used by textile merchants) for the orchestra's use. The motto Res severa est verum gaudium ("a serious concern is true pleasure", or "true pleasure is a serious business" - from the Roman author Seneca) was painted in the hall, suggesting the priorities of the sponsors. The orchestra gave its first concert in the Gewandhaus in 1781. The orchestra thus has a good claim to being the oldest continuing orchestra in Germany founded by bourgeoisie, while older orchestras were part of royal suites. In 1835 the great composer Felix Mendelssohn became the orchestra's music director, with the traditional title of Gewandhauskapellmeister; he held the position until his death in 1847 with only one year's interruption.
In 1885, the orchestra moved into a new hall. This was destroyed by bombing in 1944. The present Gewandhaus is the third building with the name. It was opened in 1981.
The large organ in the hall bears the original Gewandhaus hall's motto "Res severa verum gaudium". Aside from its duties as a concert orchestra the ensemble also performs frequently in the Thomaskirche and as the official opera orchestra of the Leipzig Opera. Later principal conductors included Arthur Nikisch, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Bruno Walter, and Václav Neumann. From 1970 to 1996, Kurt Masur was Gewandhauskapellmeister, and he and the orchestra made a number of recordings for the Philips label. From 1998 to 2005, Herbert Blomstedt held the same position, and they in turn made several recordings for the Decca label. In 2005, Riccardo Chailly took over as both Gewandhauskapellmeister and music director of the Leipzig Opera. They have released recordings on the Decca label of Felix Mendelssohn, Johannes Brahms, and the Robert Schumann symphonies in the re-orchestrations by Gustav Mahler. Music director (Gewandhauskapellmeister): 1781-1785 Johann Adam Hiller 1785-1810 Johann Gottfried Schicht 1810-1827 Johann Philipp Christoph Schulz 1827-1835 Christian August Pohlenz 1835-1843 Felix Mendelssohn 1843-1844 Ferdinand Hiller 1845-1847 Felix Mendelssohn 1848-1854 Julius Rietz 1860-1895 Carl Reinecke 1895-1922 Arthur Nikisch 1922-1928 Wilhelm Furtwängler 1929-1933 Bruno Walter 1934-1945 Hermann Abendroth 1946-1949 Herbert Albert 1949-1962 Franz Konwitschny 1964-1968 Václav Neumann 1970-1996 Kurt Masur 1998-2005 Herbert Blomstedt 2005-present Riccardo Chailly Conductors laureate: 1996-present Kurt Masur 2005-present Herbert Blomstedt Read more on Last.fm.
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