The hr-Sinfonieorchester is the radio orchestra of Hessischer Rundfunk, the public broadcasting network of the German state of Hesse. From 1924 to 1950 it was named Frankfurter Rundfunk-Symphonie-Orchester, and the translation Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra is still used for international tours. From 1950 to 1971 it was named Sinfonie-Orchester des Hessischen Rundfunks, from then to 2005 Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Frankfurt.
The orchestra's range of musical styles includes the classical-romantic repertoire, discoveries in experimental new music, concerts for children and young people, light classics, and demanding programming concepts.
Hans Rosbaud, its first conductor, put his stamp on the orchestra's orientation up to the year 1937 by focusing not only on traditional music but also contemporary compositions. After World War II, Kurt Schröder and Winfried Zillig committed themselves to rebuilding the orchestra and a broad musical repertoire. Dean Dixon and Eliahu Inbal turned the ensemble into an internationally acclaimed orchestra in the three decades from 1961 to 1990. The status of the orchestra has been repeatedly confirmed, especially during the "Inbal Era", with guest appearances around the world and major editions of recorded music, such as the very first recordings of the original versions of Anton Bruckner's Third, Fourth and Eighth Symphonies, awarded the Grand Prix du Disque, and the first digital recording of all of Gustav Mahler's symphonies, which won the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis (German Record Award) in 1988. Inbal, who was chief conductor from 1974 to 1990, has been elected its conductor laureate since 1996.
From 1990 to 1996, Dmitri Kitajenko was chief conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. His work focused on the German and Russian traditions, as well as modern styles. The piano concertos of Sergei Prokofiev, with Vladimir Krainev, and a series of works by Alexander Scriabin are but two of his projects documented on CD. Under Kitajenko, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony took extensive tours to such places as South America, Switzerland, the United States, and Japan. Under the baton of Cristóbal Halffter, a CD project of his complete orchestral works was begun, as was a series of the orchestral works of the Second Viennese School in conjunction with the symphonies of Robert Schumann and Brahms with Inbal. Arnold Schoenberg's one-act opera, Von heute auf morgen (From one day to the next), with Michael Gielen, was released as a film by Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet and on CD.
The American conductor Hugh Wolff was chief conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1997 to 2006. "Flexibility" and "variety" were two important themes in his work with the orchestra. Wolff applied the experience of historical performance practices to the modern symphony orchestra, thereby regaining repertoire from the vast worlds of classical, early classical and baroque periods, as well as enriching the ensemble's literature in more contemporary aspects. The success of exciting interpretations and an unusually versatile programming were the trade marks of the collaboration of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and Hugh Wolff. This success was reflected in the documentation of concert projects which reach far beyond the Hessian state and are resulting in guest appearances throughout Europe, Asia and North America.
1929-1937 Hans Rosbaud,
1937-1945 Otto Frickhoeffer,
1946-1953 Kurt Schröder,
1955-1961 Otto Matzerath,
1961-1974 Dean Dixon,
1974-1990 Eliahu Inbal,
1990-1997 Dmitri Kitajenko,
1997-2006 Hugh Wolff,
2006-present Paavo Järvi