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The history of the NHK SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA began with the "New Symphony Orchestra," Japan's first professional orchestra established on October 5, 1926 with its first subscription concert held on February 20 of the following year. The orchestra's performance standard improved significantly after appointing Joseph Rosenstock as Principal Conductor with subscription concerts continuing even during the Second World War. Following its name change to "Japan Symphony Orchestra" the orchestra received full financial support from NHK in 1951, and changed its name to "NHK Symphony Orchestra." Up to the present day the NHK Symphony Orchestra has given many historical performances with leading conductors such as Herbert von Karajan, Igor Stravinsky, Ernest Ansermet, and Lovro von Matacic.
The orchestra continues to flourish under the batons of Vladimir Ashkenazy (Music Director), Charles Dutoit (Music Director Emeritus), Wolfgang Sawallisch (Honorary Conductor Laureate), Honorary Conductors Otmar Suitner, Horst Stein, and Herbert Blomstedt, and Permanent Conductors Hiroyuki Iwaki, Yuzo Toyama, and Hiroshi Wakasugi, as well as Guest Conductors Nello Santi and Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. Today the NHK Symphony Orchestra performs around 120 concerts a year including 54 subscription concerts with 27 programs at the NHK Hall and Suntory Hall in Tokyo.
All subscription programs are broadcast nationwide on NHK television and over FM radio networks as well as to Europe, North and South America, and Asia through the NHK World Service. Activities and performances of the NHK Symphony Orchestra such as innovative plans of semi-staged opera, a complete range of commissioned works, and CD recordings with major recording companies have earned its high reputation worldwide. In addition, the NHK Symphony Orchestra constantly performs concerts overseas mainly in Europe and America. Its European tour in October 2005 was its 27th international appearance since 1960.
The NHK Symphony Orchestra gratefully acknowledges the support of All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd., Aisin Seiki Co. Ltd., KDDI Corporation, NEC, Mitsui & Co. Ltd., Nichia Corporation, Sega Sammy Holdings Inc., Toyota Motor Corporation, Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan, Hoso Bunka Foundation, and Rohm Music Foundation in the presentation of this U.S. tour.