The Barcelona Symphony Orchestra (OBC) was founded by Barcelona City Council in 1944, building on the Pau Casals Orchestra project (1920-1937) that had come to an end as a result of the Spanish Civil War. Today, remaining true to Pau Casals’ original spirit – open to the world and committed to society – it performs great works from the symphonic repertoire, with a particular focus on Catalan artists and heritage.
Since 1999, the OBC’s home has been at L’Auditori, designed by architect Rafael Moneo, where it performs more than twenty seasonal programmes, as well as other concerts aimed at bringing orchestral music to the general public, such as the OBCPops cycle and the Chamber Music season with music from the OBC Chamber Orchestra. In addition to these activities, the Orchestra also performs concerts at emblematic locations in Barcelona, such as the OBC concert on San Sebastián beach, the La Mercè Concert in the Plaça de la Catedral, and in the district of Nou Barris and at the Sagrada Familia.
The OBC’s first ever principal conductor 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 principal 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 been conducted by Ataúlfo Argenta, Herbert Blomstedt, Sergiu Celibidache, Sergiu Comissiona, Christoph von Dohnányi, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Valery Gergiev, Christopher Hogwood, Eliahu Inbal, Mariss Jansons, Clemens Krauss, Emmanuel Krivine, Jesús López Cobos, Witold Lutosławski, Peter Maag, Bruno Maderna, Yehudi Menuhin, Marc Minkowski, Michel Plasson, Georges Prêtre, Mstislav Rostropovich, Leonard Slatkin, Simone Young and Heitor Villa-Lobos. Notable guest soloists include Lang Lang, Janine Jansen, Daniel Barenboim, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Isaac Stern, Radu Lupu, Frank Peter Zimmermann, Arcadi Volodos, Plácido Domingo, Montserrat Caballé, Teresa Berganza, Alícia de Larrocha, Pinchas Zukerman, Martha Argerich, Joshua Bell, Gidon Kremer, Truls Mørk, Viktoria Mullova, Piotr Anderszewski, Gil Shaham, Rudolf Buchbinder, Joaquín Achúcarro, Claudio Arrau and Arthur Rubinstein.
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 the outstanding guitarist Xuefei Yang, for the EMI record label, and Albéniz and Garreta monographs for the Tritó label.