In 1905 an orchestral association, the Göteborgs Orkesterförening, was organized, with funding from local industrial concerns. The first concerts were given the same year.
In 1906 the society engaged composer Wilhelm Stenhammar
to become the orchestra's principal conductor. He was a firm leader, with strong gifts for orchestra building and a widely ranging interest in new repertory. Stenhammar
was an innovator as a symphony director. Reasoning that children benefited by exposure to orchestral music, he was among the first conductors anywhere to establish regular school outreach concerts. This has resulted in symphony concerts becoming one of the favorite forms of musical entertainment in Göteborg and the surrounding area. Stenhammar
and the Göteborg Symphony were the first to introduce the music of Danish composer Carl Nielsen
The obstacle of Göteborg's lack of a suitable concert hall was remedied in 1935, with the opening of a municipally financed hall, the Göteborgs Konserthus. This hall of modern design vies with such venues as Boston's Orchestra Hall, Carnegie Hall, and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw
in various commentators' opinions as the best-sounding concert hall in the world. The richness and clarity of the sound is one of the factors that have set the high standards the Göteborg Symphony has met.
In addition, the orchestra management over the years has shown notable skill in choosing Stenhammar
's successors as music director, which have included Tor Mann, Ture Rängstrom
, Issay Dobrowen, Sixten Eckerberg, Dean Dixon, Sten Frykberg, Sergiu Comissiona
, Charles Dutoit
, Sixten Ehrling
, and, from 1982 to 2004, Estonian maestro Neeme Järvi
. Mario Venzago
served from 2004 until 2007, when Gustavo Dudamel
was appointed the orchestra's principal director.
Soon after his accession to the podium of the orchestra, Järvi
began a long association with Sweden's Bis
record company that has made both Järvi
and the orchestra world-famous. Järvi
, exhibiting an astonishingly large repertory, began with a complete cycle of Sibelius
recordings. With Järvi
or others, on both the Bis
and Deutsche Grammophon
labels, the orchestra has produced dozens of recordings, including complete cycles of music with orchestra by Tubin
, and several others, and the complete Rachmaninov
operas. In May 1997, the Swedish Parliament and government appointed the Göteborg Symphony Orchestra as "Sweden's National Orchestra."