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© Simon Van Boxtel / Set Design: Pierre-André Weitz

La Monnaie Symphony Orchestra

In 1772, the Austrian composer and conductor Ignace Vitzthumb officially founded the La Monnaie Orchestra. The ensemble, always closely involved in the opera house’s productions, developed over the years as it worked with great composers such as Richard Wagner, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, Ruggiero Leoncavallo, André Messager, Vincent d’Indy et Alban Berg. In the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, it took part in the first performances of a number of operas, including Massenet’s Hérodiade, Chabrier’s Gwendoline, Chausson’s Le Roi Arthus, Milhaud’s Les malheurs d'Orphée, Honneger’s Antigone, and Prokofiev’s The Gambler.

The orchestra was regularly conducted by world-famous conductors such as Hans Richter, Felix Mottl, Otto Lohse, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Josef Krips, and, more recently, Sir John Pritchard, Christoph von Dohnányi, and Kent Nagano.

Under Gerard Mortier, the La Monnaie Symphony Orchestra was thoroughly revitalised in 1981 and Sylvain Cambreling (1981–1991) was appointed Music Director. He was succeeded by Sir Antonio Pappano (1992–2002), Kazushi Ono (2002–2008), and Ludovic Morlot (2012–2014).

Equally at home in the symphonic and operatic repertoires, the orchestra performs for the most part in Brussels at the Royal Opera House La Monnaie, in the Henry Le Boeuf Hall at Bozar, and in Studio 4 at Flagey, as well as on tour in Europe, the United States, and Japan. 

Contemporary music figures prominently in the orchestra’s repertoire and it has collaborated, at times in first performances, with many composers, including John Adams, Luciano Berio, Philippe Boesmans, Pierre Boulez, Kris Defoort, Pascal Dusapin, Luca Francesconi, Toshio Hosokawa, Bruno Maderna, Frank Martin, Benoît Mernier, Krzysztof Penderecki, Wolfgang Rihm, and Salvatore Sciarrino.

The orchestra’s dynamism and versatility have made a huge contribution to La Monnaie’s artistic identity. Their impact has grown as broadcasts of opera productions on television and radio, as well as Internet streaming, have increasingly brought the orchestra to the attention of music-lovers all over the world. Its prestige is reflected in an extensive and ever-growing discography.

Alain Altinoglu has been Music Director of the La Monnaie Symphony Orchestra since January 2016.