Although it is comparatively young among European symphonic ensembles, the Bamberger Symphoniker, or Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, has deep roots in that Bavarian city, with an estimated 10 percent of Bamberg residents subscribing to one or more of the group's subscription series.
The Bamberger Symphoniker was formed in 1946 as the Prague Deutsche Philharmonie, which had been the German orchestra of Prague under Nazi occupation. After the war, Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia and they reformed themselves in Bamberg as the Bamberg Musicians' Orchestra, soon afterward taking the Bamberger Symphoniker name. The orchestra was fundamentally built by Joseph Keilberth, its first permanent principal conductor, who assumed his post in 1949 and remained there until his death in 1968 (while conducting Wagner's Tristan und Isolde). The next permanent conductor, James Loughran, did not ascend the podium until 1979, and since then there have been only four more permanent conductors; Horst Stein, Witold Rowicki, Jonathan Nott, and Jakub Hrusa, whose tenure began in 2016. As a result, the orchestra has developed a characteristic sound. The orchestra is partially financed by the Bavarian state government and carries the official title of Bayerische Staatsphilharmonie, or Bavarian State Philharmonic, and it plays a key role in Bamberg's musical life. However, the more than 7,000 concerts the orchestra has played include those in 500 cities and 63 foreign countries. More than Bavaria's other major orchestras, the Bamberger Symphoniker has served as a musical ambassador of Bavaria. Since 1993, the orchestra has performed in Bamberg's Konzert- und Kongresshalle. The group recorded for the Orfeo, Vox, and Koch Schwann labels, among others, in the 1980s and 1990s, moving mostly to Tudor and CPO in the 2000s. It has also hosted prestigious guest conductors including Herbert Blomstedt and Neeme Järvi, issuing a cycle of Glazunov's symphonies with the latter in 2019.