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Meet the Musicians

The Legacy of Minnesota Orchestra Music Directors

November 5, 2022, marks 119 years since the Minnesota Orchestra—then called the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra—first performed under its founding music director Emil Oberhoffer. In the intervening years, nine more conductors have been called music director of the Minnesota Orchestra with Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård assuming the role at the start of the 2023-24 season. As the Orchestra prepares to welcome its 11th artistic leader, long-time classical music enthusiast, writer and Orchestra pre-concert host Phillip Gainsley reflects on the historic legacy of Søndergård's ten predecessors: “Each one of the past 10 Minnesota Orchestra music directors has contributed to the sound and reputation of this ever-evolving organization,” he remarks. “Each made his mark regarding repertoire, guest artists, recordings and significant performances.”

From the time of its formation, each of the Orchestra’s music directors had a keen interest in making sure that audiences both in Minnesota and around the world knew that Minneapolis had a world-class orchestra. Watch above as Gainsley guides us through the groundbreaking tenures of Emil Oberhoffer (1903-1922), Henri Verbrugghen (1923-1931), Eugene Ormandy (1931-1936), Dmitri Mitropoulos (1937–1949), Antal Doráti (1949-1960), Stanisław Skrowaczewski (1960–1979), Neville Marriner (1979-1986), Edo de Waart (1986–1995), Eiji Oue (1995–2002) and the Orchestra’s newest conductor laureate Osmo Vänskä (2003–2022).

When Thomas Søndergård assumes the podium full-time next season, he will join a select group of legendary conductors whose musical talents and sense of innovation have kept the Minnesota Orchestra playing for nearly 120 years. If his recent electrifying debut as music director designate is any indication of things to come, the Orchestra is due for many more years of thrilling performances.