One of the oldest orchestras in the world with a rich tradition has been the orchestra in residence of the Salzburg Easter Festival since 2013
Richard Wagner’s “Wonderharp”
Founded by Prince-Elector Moritz von Sachsen in 1548, the Staatskapelle Dresden is one of the oldest orchestras in the world and thus steeped in tradition. Over its long history many distinguished conductors and internationally celebrated instrumentalists have left their mark on this former court orchestra. Previous directors include Heinrich Schütz, Johann Adolf Hasse, Carl Maria von Weber and Richard Wagner, who called the ensemble his ‘wonderharp’.
The list of prominent conductors of the last 100 years includes Ernst von Schuch, Fritz Reiner, Fritz Busch, Karl Böhm, Joseph Keilberth, Rudolf Kempe, Otmar Suitner, Kurt Sanderling, Herbert Blomstedt and Giuseppe Sinopoli. The orchestra was directed by Bernard Haitink from 2002–2004 and by Fabio Luisi from 2007–2010. Christian Thielemann took up the baton as principal conductor in the 2012/13 season. In May 2016 the former principal conductor Herbert Blomstedt received the title of conductor laureate. The only person to previously hold this title was Sir Colin Davis, from 1990 until his death in April 2013. Myung-Whun Chung has been principal guest conductor since 2012.
World Premieres of Works by Richard Strauss - and Many Others
Richard Strauss and the Staatskapelle had a close association for more than 60 years. Nine of the composer’s operas were first performed in Dresden, including Salome, Elektra and Der Rosenkavalier, while Strauss’s Alpensinfonie was dedicated to the orchestra. Many other famous composers have written works first performed by the Staatskapelle. In 2007 the Staatskapelle reaffirmed this tradition by introducing the annual position of ‘Capell-Compositeur’. Following on from Hans Werner Henze, Sofia Gubaidulina, Wolfgang Rihm, György Kurtág, Arvo Pärt, Peter Eötvös and Aribert Reimann, composer Giuseppe Sinopoli holds this title posthumously for the 2020/21 season. Sir András Schiff presents himself several times in Dresden as the new ‘Capell-Virtuos’.
At Home at the Semperoper - and Touring the World
The Staatskapelle Dresden’s home is the Semperoper, where it performs around 250 opera and ballet performances each season. In addition the ensemble presents another 50 symphonic and chamber concerts in the opera house, as well as playing at various musical events in Dresden’s Frauenkirche and the Kulturpalast.
As one of the world’s most renowned symphony orchestras, the Staatskapelle regularly travels abroad to the world’s leading classical venues. Since 2013, the Staatskapelle Dresden has been the Orchestra in Residence at the Salzburg Easter Festival, whose Artistic Director is Christian Thielemann.
Engagements and Awards
As patron orchestra of the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, the Staatskapelle supports the nurturing of young talent. Also active at the local level, the Staatskapelle is a partner of Meetingpoint Music Messiaen in Görlitz-Zgorzelec and, in 2010, helped found the International Shostakovich Festival in Gohrisch, which is the first annual event dedicated to the music and life of the composer Dmitri Shostakovich.
At a ceremony in Brussels in 2007, the Staatskapelle Dresden became the first and so far only orchestra to be awarded the European Prize for the Preservation of the World’s Musical Heritage.