The Salomon Orchestra was conceived in the Augustiner Keller in Vienna in 1963 by the conductor Nicholas Braithwaite and a group of his contemporaries. The orchestra has worked with artists in the early years of their professional careers, many of them now established names in British music making, including conductors Andrew Davis, Simon Rattle and Martyn Brabbins, and soloists such as Felicity Lott, Jean Rigby, Nigel Kennedy, Barry Douglas, Piers Lane, Paul Crossley and Ronan O’Hora.
The orchestra is named after violinist, composer and impresario Johann Peter Salomon (born in the same house as Beethoven in Bonn) who brought Haydn to England in 1791 and reflects the predominance of that composer in the orchestra’s early repertoire. Since then the orchestra has become known for its performance of late Romantic and 20th century works.
In 1990 the Salomon Orchestra received the Enterprise award from the Performing Rights Society for its continued initiative in promoting the performance of contemporary music.
The orchestra celebrated its 25th anniversary in October 1988 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall where we gave the first performance of Giles Swayne’s The Song of the Leviathan specially commissioned for the occasion. Examples of continued challenging programming include Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphonie and Tippett’s 4th Symphony in 1993 and in 1998 the programmes included contemporary British works by John McCabe and John Pickard.
In May 1999 at the Royal Festival Hall the orchestra promoted a performance of Mahler’s 8th Symphony conducted by our President, Martyn Brabbins, with the Huddersfield Choral Society, Crouch End Festival Chorus and Finchley Children’s Music Group.
For the 40th anniversary concert in October 2003 the Salomon Orchestra assembled the huge orchestra needed for Richard Strauss’ Alpine Symphony, directed by founding conductor Nicholas Braithwaite. February 2005 included a performance of Sir Michael Tippett’s Concerto for Orchestra to mark the centenary of his birth.
In 2013, we celebrated our 50th anniversary concert at our regular concert venue, St John’s Smith Square, with a performance of Richard Strauss’s Vienna Philharmonic Fanfare and Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, followed by his Four Songs (Zueignung, Ruhe, meine Seele, Morgen, and Die heiligen drei Koeniger aus Morgenland) with soprano soloist Emma Dogliani. The performance concluded with Shostakovich’s ‘Leningrad’ Symphony No. 7, and the programme was once again conducted by founder conductor Nicholas Braithwaite.