The Danish National Symphony Orchestra (= DNSO), also known as Danish National Symphony Orchestra, is Denmark's biggest and best known symphony orchestra, and one of the world's oldest radio symphony orchestras. It was founded in 1925 and could celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2000. In the anniversary season the German conductor Gerd Albrecht joined the orchestra as its principal conductor.
From summer 2004 Thomas Dausgaard, former principal guest conductor, took over as the first Danish principal conductor. The position as principal guest conductor is held by Yuri Temirkanov.Besides the two regular conductors, international names heading the DNSO over the past few years have included Christoph Eschenbach, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Sylvain Cambreling, Marek Janowski, Gary Bertini, Herbert Blomstedt, Jeffrey Tate, Christopher Hogwood, Ton Koopman, Marc Soustrot, Marcello Viotti, Kurt Sanderling, Manfred Honeck, Leopold Hager, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Gianandrea Noseda, Kazushi Ono and the late Yevgeni Svetlanov and Giuseppe Sinopoli.
Two legendary conductors built the DNSO up in its early years: Fritz Busch and the Russian Nikolai Malko, whom the orchestra honour through the international Malko Competition for Young Conductors, which is held every three years. Next Malko Competition will be held spring 2005. In the course of time, the orchestra has also collaborated with some of the 20th century's greatest composers as soloists and conductors: Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Prokofiev, Paul Hindemith, Pierre Boulez, Witold Lutoslawski, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Hans Werner Henze.
In 1996 the DNSO took part in the celebrations of Copenhagen as European Culture Capital with among other things the internationally acclaimed Scandinavian premiere of the complete three-act version of Alban Berg's opera Lulu at Christiansborg Ridehus. In June 1996 the DNSO and the Danish National Choir gave a concert performance of Carl Nielsen's opera Maskarade in the Tivoli Concert Hall, at the Vienna Konzerthaus and the Brussels Palais des Beaux-Arts. The singers included Bo Skovhus and Aage Haugland in the main roles. Maskarade, conducted by Ulf Schirmer, was subsequently recorded by Decca and since then has received several awards including the major Gramophone Award 1999 in London and a Danish Grammy. In Los Angeles it was nominated for a Grammy in 2000 as Best Opera Release and was re-realeased in 2004.
Since 1989 the DNSO has mostly recorded for the Chandos label, where its releases include a Sibelius and a Gustav Mahler symphony cycle as well as a long succession of Danish works. The DNSO has also released a complete recording of Carl Nielsen's symphonies conducted by Michael Schønwandt on the Dacapo label. In January 1999 Richard Strauss' opera Salome was released on Chandos with Michael Schønwandt conducting and Inga Nielsen in the title role. The recording was nominated for the Gramophone Award 1999 in London in the category "20th Century Opera". In February 1997 the orchestra's Dacapo recording of Friedrich Kunzen's opera Holger Danske (Ogier the Dane) was honoured with two Danish Grammys and nominated for an American Grammy in New York.
In 2003-2004 conductor Gerd Albrecht completed a CD-recording of Johannes Brahms' works for choir and orchestra together with the DNSO, and with Inger Dam-Jensen (soprano), Anna Larson (alto) and Bo Skovhus (baritone), as soloists.
For the DNSO, the ambition to ensure the survival of classical music by constantly aspiring to the highest possible standards, goes hand in hand with innovative thinking. Thus in 2003/04 the orchestra gave the first performance of several new works by Börtz, Niels Rosing-Schow, Svend Nielsen and Bent Sørensen, and presented an opera by Morton Feldman (libretto by Samuel Becket) in co-operation with Holland House production company.
In 2005 the DNSO will contribute to the 200 years birthday of Hans Christian Andersen with a number of activities. New works based on stories and poems by Hans Christian Andersen have been commissioned and the touring highlights will be a substantial tour to the Far East, a revisit to the BBC Proms and to the Amsterdam Concertgebouw.
The education of the new generation of music lovers, also plays an important role at the DNSO. In collaboration with Sigurd Barret, a well-known figure from children's television in Denmark, the orchestra invites small children and their parents (and grand parents) to special children's concerts, and has produced a highly successful series of TV programmes for children about the orchestra and its instruments. For the first time ever the DNSO also performed children’s concerts abroad with Sigurd Barrett in China.