Penny Dreadful: From True Crime to FictionThe Madding Crowd: 18th Century LondonBloodletting: Barber Surgeons and Early MedicineThe Play's the Thing: From Melodrama to Musical
A String of Pearls
Sweeney Todd
Mrs. Lovett
Tobias Ragg
Judge Turpin
The Beadle
Anthony Hope
Adolfo Pirelli
Beggar Woman
Stephen Sondheim
San Francisco Symphony
Ellen M. Krass Productions
Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in Concert
San Francisco Symphony

In the wake of the 1906 earthquake, establishment of a permanent orchestra was high on San Francisco's civic agenda, and in December 1911 the San Francisco Symphony gave its first concerts. Almost immediately, the symphony revitalized the city's cultural life with programs that offered a kaleidoscope of classics and new music.

The Orchestra grew in stature and acclaim under a succession of distinguished music directors: Henry Hadley, among the foremost American composers of his era, Alfred Hertz (who had led the American premieres of Parsifal, Salome, and Der Rosenkavalier at the Metropolitan Opera), Basil Cameron, Issay Dobrowen, the legendary Pierre Monteux (who introduced the world to Le Sacre du printemps and Petrushka), Enrique Jordá, Josef Krips, Seiji Ozawa, Herbert Blomstedt (who continues to serve as Conductor Laureate), and Michael Tilson Thomas, who assumed his post as Music Director in September 1995.

In recent seasons the San Francisco Symphony has won some of the world's most prestigious recording awards, including Japan's Record Academy Award, France's Grand Prix du Disque, Britain's Gramophone Award, and the United States's Grammy for Carmina burana, Brahms's German Requiem, and scenes from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet – the first recording by Michael Tilson Thomas and the Orchestra under their exclusive contract with BMG Classics/RCA Red Seal. That collaboration has produced a series of recordings that includes Mahler's Das klagende Lied, Copland the Modernist, Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique, George Gershwin – The 100th Birthday Celebration (featuring works MTT and the SFS performed in September 1998 at Carnegie Hall's opening gala, which was telecast nationally on PBS's Great Performances), and Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps, The Firebird, and Perséphone – these last three works part of an album that recently won three Grammy awards.

The San Francisco Symphony tours Europe and Asia regularly and in 1990 made a stunning debut at the Salzburg Festival. Some of the most important conductors of our time have been guests on the SFS podium, among them Bruno Walter, Leopold Stokowski, Leonard Bernstein, Kurt Masur, and Sir Georg Solti, and the list of composers who have led the Orchestra is a who's who of twentieth-century music, including Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Prokofiev, Maurice Ravel, Arnold Schoenberg, Paul Hindemith, Aaron Copland, and John Adams.

For its adventurous programming, the symphony has been honored 10 times by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. And in 1979, the appointment of John Adams as New Music Adviser became a model for composer-in-residence programs since adopted by major orchestras across America. Adams served as composer-in-residence until 1985, Charles Wuorinen held the post from 1985 to 1989, George Perle from 1989 until 1991.

In 1980, the Orchestra moved into the newly built Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall. 1980 also saw the founding of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, winner in 1985 of the world's highest honor for a young musicians' ensemble, the City of Vienna Prize. The SFS Chorus has been heard around the world on the soundtracks of three major films, Amadeus, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Godfather III . Through its radio broadcasts - the first in America to feature symphonic music when they began in 1926 - the San Francisco Symphony is heard throughout the country on more than 225 stations, confirming an artistic vitality whose impact extends throughout American musical life.

Visit the San Francisco Symphony on the world wide web at

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Home  -  I. Penny Dreadful  -  II. The Madding Crowd  -  III. Bloodletting
IV. The Play's the Thing  -  Recipes

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