The Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich, Switzerland is the oldest orchestra in the country, founded in 1868, and known as one of the most adventurous orchestras in Europe owing to its wide range of operatic concerts mixed with repertoire of classical and romantic, and even including modern and contemporary music.
The Tonhalle venue known as Neue Tonhalle, opened in 1895 and is one of the best in the world for acoustics. The orchestra also serves as the pit orchestra for the Zurich Opera performances which take place in the Zurich Opernhaus.
A precursor to the Tonhalle Orchestra were various music societies that eventually formed a small orchestra called AMG. There was push from the country to form a permanent orchestra, with some of the urgency coming from Richard Wagner himself. Finally, the Swiss Music Festival saw to the creation of Orchesterverein, and a few years later Tonhalle.
Chief conductors of the Tonhalle Orchestra through the years have included Friedrich Hegar, Volkmar Andreae, Erich Schmid, Hans Rosbaud, Rudolf Kempe, Gerd Albrecht, Christoph Eschenbach, Hiroshi Wakasugi, and David Zinman with whom they debuted at BBC Proms in Sept 2003. It is with Zinman that the orchestra has seen its most success.
Tonhalle Orchestra has also recorded several times including repertoire of Vivaldi and Mozart in the 1920s, and on a 79 rpm with Decca Classics featuring music from Franz Lehar in 1947. With Zinman they’ve recorded the complete Beethoven Symphonies on Arte Nova and have recordings on RCA.