The Rotterdam Philharmonic is an European orchestra with a bright, powerful sound and an extroverted musical personality.
It was 1918, when musicians of Rotterdam took steps in rebuilding the city's importance as a center of music by founding the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. Its first two directors were Willem Felzer and Alexander Schmuller. But the most important conductor in the pre-War period was Eduard Flipse, a famed conductor of the most modern music of the time. He remained its music director until 1962, building an ensemble noted for polish and precision.
In 1940 Rotterdam became a center of war industry and transport, and, hence, a major target for Allied bombing, and it was devastated. Its concert hall, the Doele, was destroyed along with all the orchestra's instruments and music library. However, the orchestra itself went back into independent operation at the end of the war, appearing at a number of city venues of varying suitability. The orchestra found a new home in 1966 with the completion of a new concert hall, called Die Doelen, with a large auditorium seating 2,320. The hall is of modernistic, concrete design marking it as part of the design concepts that also brought the Philharmonie of Berlin, Queen Elizabeth Hall of London, the Philharmonic (now Avery Fischer Hall) of New York into being. Its acoustics are lively, very clear, and with a strong resonant bass, though it does not add an element of warmth to the orchestral sound.
By the time the new hall was built, Franz Paul Decker had succeeded Flipse and was in turn followed by Jean Fournet. The orchestra started a tradition of finding young, energetic, and exciting music directors when, in 1973, it hired the Dutch composer Edo de Waart, who rose to conducting stardom in the position. His successors were, in turn, two Americans, David Zinman and James Conlon, and a British conductor, Jeffrey Tate. In 1995 the orchestra appointed its tenth music director, Valery Gergiev, already famed as the brilliant leader of St. Petersburg, Russia's Kirov Theater. His appointment was followed in 2008 by that of Yannick Nézet-Seguin.
(The Rotterdam Philharmonic Brass, though made up of the members of the orchestra's brass and percussion sections, is a separate organization.)