To seek and share inspiration.
We will engage audiences and community better than any other orchestra in the world.
Determined for Greatness
A Place of Experimentation
Founded in 1895, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is the fifth oldest orchestra in the United States and represents the evolution of 200 years of musical tradition in the Queen City.
At the end of the 18th century, when Haydn and Beethoven were still living, Cincinnati was little more than a village surrounding old Fort Washington. A "select band" of soldiers stationed at the fort would present concerts for the early settlers, pioneers who had pushed west-ward over the Allegheny Mountains. The Western Spy, a newspaper of the time, mentioned a memorial celebration in honor of Gen. George Washington at which the band played a goodly number of martial airs. An early writer wrote of another celebration that "a band of music accompanied them [the reveling settlers] with the harmonies of Gluck and Haydn."
With the 19th century and the arrival of many German settlers, numerous musical organizations were established in the "Queen City of the West." The Harmonical Society was a brass band of local talent, and the Apollonian Society, with 40 members, promoted "the cultivation of vocal and instrumental music." In 1825 Joseph Tosso, a young graduate of the Paris Conservatory, arrived to direct an orchestra assembled for a reception in General Lafayette's honor. Tosso remained and organized the Orchestra of the Musical Fund Society. About the same time, the Eclectic Academy was founded. The Midwest's first Sängerfest took place in Cincinnati in 1842 at the old Armory Hall.