The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Society, Inc. employs and supports a professional major symphony orchestra of artistic excellence that is integral to Buffalo-Niagara’s vitality through the presentation of live symphonic music and other musical events, which inspire, educate and entertain the broadest possible audiences within Buffalo-Niagara and beyond.
History of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
After the rise and fall of several forerunners, the BPO was founded in 1935, performing most often at the Elmwood Music Hall, which was located at Elmwood Ave. and Virginia St. and was demolished in 1938. During the Great Depression, the orchestra was initially supported by funds from the Works Progress Administration and the Emergency Relief Bureau. Over the decades, the orchestra has matured in stature under outstanding music directors including William Steinberg, Josef Krips, Lukas Foss, Michael Tilson Thomas, Julius Rudel, Semyon Bychkov, and Maximiano Valdes. Many distinguished guest performers have graced the orchestra’s stage, including Sergei Rachmaninoff, Isaac Stern, Aaron Copland, Van Cliburn, and Yo-Yo Ma. The Buffalo Philharmonic has issued more than 50 recordings in its history. It has toured abroad twice: a six-city European tour in 1988, and a four-city tour of Poland in 2018.
Since 1940, the orchestra’s permanent home has been Kleinhans Music Hall, a National Historic Landmark designed by Eliel and Eero Saarinen with an international reputation as one of the finest concert halls in the United States. Since its inception in 1935, the BPO has served as Buffalo’s cultural ambassador. JoAnn Falletta is the Music Director of the Grammy Award-winning orchestra, which presents more than 120 Classics, Pops, Rock, Kids and Youth concerts each year.
In 2001, the Buffalo Philharmonic began a formal program to record and preserve its own history. The fruits of this program can be found at the BPO archives.