The Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra is considered one of Austria's finest orchestras, surpassed in reputation perhaps only by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. The Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra consists of 91 members and performs a variety of repertory, from Baroque to contemporary. While it tends to favor works by Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, and Schubert, it has increasingly expanded its repertory, performing music by Gounod, Stravinsky, Berio, and by contemporary composers like Kurt Schwertsik, Helmut Eder, and Georg Friedrich Haas. The SMO performs a regular schedule of concerts at the Salzburger Landestheater and other Austrian locations. It also regularly appears at the Salzburg Festival (Mozarteum, Großer Saal) and Mozart Festival, and often goes on tour throughout Europe, Asia, and elsewhere across the globe. The SMO has made countless recordings over the years, amassing 100 or so devoted to the works of Mozart alone. Recordings are available on a wide variety of major labels, including DG, Oehms, Philips, Sony, Vox, ArtHaus Musik, and EuroArts.
The Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra was founded in 1841 and called the Cathedral Music Society and Mozarteum. It adopted its current name in 1908. The ensemble was originally a chamber orchestra and performed music mostly from the Viennese classical school.
It was not until the latter half of the 20th century that the SMO began to be recognized as a major orchestral ensemble. Austrian conductor Leopold Hager led the orchestra from 1969-1981, largely maintaining the tradition of performing lots of Mozart and much else from the Viennese realm. Hager made over 40 recordings of Mozart's works with the SMO, including the early operas and a spate of both standard and rare Mozart.
Hans Graf (1984-1994) also focused heavily on Mozart, recording all the symphonies with the SMO and various other works. Hubert Soudant took the reins in 1995 and often veered into more adventurous repertory: while he led the SMO in his share of Mozart and Beethoven, he also introduced works like Berio's Rendering, a modern take on an unfinished Schubert piece.
Ivor Bolton succeeded Graf in 2004 and still serves as the SMO's conductor. Bolton and the SMO have premiered such works as Georg Friedrich Haas' 7 Klangräume (2005). Bolton has made over 20 recordings with the SMO, mostly for the Oehms label. Among the SMO's later recordings is the 2009 Oehms CD of the Bruckner Third Symphony, part of Bolton's cycle of the complete Bruckner symphonies.