A symphonic hit in Athens

The 61-year-old, Hamburg-based NDR Symphony Orchestra, which has been led by some of the world’s most esteemed conductors, will be in the Greek capital for two performances at the Athens Concert Hall this Sunday and Monday. The orchestra, with Christoph von Dohnanyi at the podium, will present works by Stravinsky, Haydn and Tschaikovsky. The NDR will perform the suite from Stravinsky’s ballet «Pulcinella,» Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C Major, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6. Founded in 1945, the orchestra’s artistic identity was built by conductor Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, who, over a 25-year tenure, spread the NDR’s fame beyond Hamburg. The orchestra toured Germany for the first time in 1949 and performed in Paris a year later. Major tours followed soon after, and the NDR quickly established an international reputation as one of Germany’s leading symphony orchestras. Conductors the caliber of Wilhelm Furtwengler, Hans Knappertsbusch, Eric Kleiber and Otto Klemperer all led the NDR, as guest conductors, during Schmidt-Isserstedt’s tenure. The long-serving artistic director was succeeded in the 1970s by Moshe Atzmon and Klaus Tennstedt. Gunter Wand’s extensive two-decade span at the orchestra’s helm, which began in 1982, rates as one of the most pivotal in the NDR’s history. Wand was named a lifetime honorary conductor in 1987. He remained at the NDR’s artistic helm until his death, in 2002. Wand’s reign was a fertile period for the orchestra, whose international reputation was further bolstered by its interpretations of work by Anton Bruckner.