The Bamberger Symphoniker (Bamberg Symphony Orchestra) was formed in 1946 from among the former members of the German Philharmonic of Prague, who were among the refugees of World War II, bringing with them the Bohemian traditions of style and sound and soon establishing an international reputation. The Bamberger Symphoniker conquered the hearts od music-lovers with their virtuosity, their discipline and culture of sound from the very beginning. In the years from 1946 until 1948 they acquired a broad repertoire together with the conductor Konrad Lechner. Ranging from J.S. Bach to Igor Stravinsky and Karl Höller, the concerts featured a well-balanced variety. In 1949 the Bamberger Symphoniker was the first German orchestra to be invited to France after World War II. It was also the first German orchestra to tour Europe, the USA, Asia and Africa after the end of World War II.
The first Principal Conductor was Joseph Keilberth, who had known most of the players from his days as General Music Director of the of the German Philharmonic of Prague. He retained his post in Bamberg until his death in 1968, to be followed by James Loughran and Horst Stein, the latter now bearing the title of Honorary Conductor for Life. The list of celebrated guest conductors of the Bamberger Symphoniker includes Rudolf Kempe, Hans Knappertsbusch, Clemens Krauss, Eugen Jochum, Georg Solti, Horst Stein, Ingo Metzbach, Werner Andreas Albert, and more recently, Gerd Albrecht, Christoph von Dohnányi, Semyon Bychkov, Mariss Jansons, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Ingo Metzmacher, and Wolfgang Sawallisch. These conductors and music directors formed the Orchestra and created a distinctive culture of sound that is intimately connected with the Bamberger Symphoniker. In addition, composers Witold Lutoslawski, Krzysztof Penderecki, Aram Khachaturian, and Cristóbal Halffter have conducted the orchestra in their own works.
For 43 years, the orchestra rehearsed and performed in the so-called culture hall of the Dominican monastery under conditions that were a constant interim solution. By building the new concert and congress hall in 1993, the Bamberger Symphoniker finally received an exquisite home that is up to the standard of the most demanding music-lovers. The acoustics and the architecture of the "Symphony on the Regnitz" - as the hall is called - now offer what is expected for a first class orchestra and its audience.
The Bamberger Symphoniker gives more than 100 performances annually, including many on tour in Germany and abroad. Since 2000 Britain’s Jonathan Nott has been Principal Conductor, enlarging the orchestra’s repertoire to include numerous works of New Music. Under his baton, the orchestra has given concerts in Vienna and Amsterdam, in Switzerland, Brazil, and Japan, and at the Edinburgh Festival and the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg. This concerts marks the orchestra’s Salzburg Festival debut. The Bamberg Symphony Orchestra appread at the Salzburg Festival in 2004.