The Barcelona Symphony and National Orchestra of Catalonia (OBC) was founded by Barcelona City Council in 1944, building on the Orquestra Pau Casals (1920-1937) project that had come to an end as a result of the Spanish Civil War. Today, maintaining Pau Casals' original spirit - open to the world and committed to society - it is mindful of Catalan artists and heritage, and its mission is to popularise symphonic music, primarily from the 19th century to the present day.
Since 1999 it has been based at L’Auditori, designed by Navarrese architect Rafael Moneo. There the Orchestra performs more than twenty season programmes, as well as other concerts aimed at bringing orchestral music to the people: original version cinema, concerts for families and school children, experimental music, operas and chamber music. It also performs at emblematic locations such as the Plaça de la Catedral, Barceloneta beach and the Sagrada Familia.
The OBC’s very first music director was Eduard Toldrà, and this position has been held since September 2015 by Kazushi Ono, who is also music director of the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. Jan Willem de Vriend is the current main guest conductor. Other music directors have included Rafael Ferrer, Antoni Ros Marbà, Salvador Mas, Franz-Paul Decker, Luis Antonio García Navarro, Lawrence Foster, Ernest Martínez Izquierdo, Eiji Oue and Pablo González. It has also been conducted by Ataulfo Argenta, Herbert Blomstedt, Sergiu Celibidache, Sergiu Comissiona, Christoph von Dohnányi, Rafael Frübeck de Burgos, Valeri Gergiev, Christopher Hogwood, Eliahu Inbal, Maris Jansons, Clemens Krauss, Emmanuel Krivine, Jesús López Cobos, Witold Lutoslawski, Peter Maag, Bruno Maderna, Yehudi Menuhin, Marc Minkowski, Michel Plasson, Georges Prêtre, Mstislav Rostropóvitx, Leonard Slatkin and Heitor Villa-Lobos. Guest soloists who have performed with the OBC include noteworthy names such as Lang Lang, Janine Jansen, Daniel Barenboim, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Isaac Stern, Radu Lupu, Frank Peter Zimmermann, Arcadi Volodos, Plácido Domingo, Montserrat Caballé, Teresa Berganza, Alicia de Larrocha, Pinchas Zukerman, Martha Argerich, Joshua Bell, Gidon Kremer, Truls Mørk, Viktoria Mullova, Piotr Anderzewski, Gil Shaham, Rudolf Buchbinder, Joaquín Achúcarro, Claudio Arrau, and Arthur Rubinstein, amongst others.
During its trajectory of more than 70 years, the Orchestra has hosted numerous premieres and made several recordings with Decca, EMI, Auvidis, Koch, Claves, Naxos, Telarc and BIS, among others, performing works by Montsalvatge, Gerhard, Falla, D'Albert, Albéniz, Donhány, Bartók, Bizet and Rodrigo. Among these recordings are the Concierto de Aranjuez, featuring outstanding guitarist Xuefei Yang, for the EMI record label, and Albéniz and Garreta monographs for the Tritó label.