1st December 1935

BBC establishes the Scottish Symphony Orchestra

The BBC first established itself in Scotland with the launch of station 5SC in March 1923. Twelve years later it founded its first orchestra in the country.

The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, which only adopted the ‘Symphony’ part of its name in the 1960s, is now based at Glasgow’s City Halls, but had initially found at home at the corporation’s Scottish headquarters in Glasgow’s Queen Margaret Drive.

It moved to City Halls in 2006, upon completion of the venue’s four-year refurbishment programme. Writing in The Guardian on 29 January that year, George Hall noted that

…the main concert hall is now a comfortable auditorium with an acoustic even better than before. Indeed, it is easily among the finest in the UK. The main beneficiary is the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, which has moved into the building and will use the hall as its base… The BBC SSO will use this for contemporary and experimental programmes. The whole project has been a triumph of vision for Glasgow, and has resulted in the acquisition of a major asset for Scotland.

An evolving orchestra

The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra initially provided music solely for broadcast but, over its first 40 years, gradually increased the number of performances it gave in front of live audiences. These included performances at the Edinburgh Festival and as part of the BBC Proms series.

The ensemble is just one of several orchestras maintained by the BBC, including the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the BBC Symphony Orchestra (in London) and the BBC Philharmonic (in Manchester).

Previously it has also maintained the BBC Northern Orchestra, BBC Opera Orchestra, BBC Revue Orchestra and BBC Midland Orchestra, all of which have since been disbanded.

BBC Scottish Radio Orchestra

Founded in 1940, the BBC Scottish Radio Orchestra played until 1981 when, with the corporation looking to reduce the number of musicians it employed, it was. Also based in Glasgow, the Radio Orchestra had initially occupied a studio next door to the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and was used as an accompaniment to light entertainment radio broadcasts.

It was later renamed the BBC Scottish Variety Orchestra and operated under this name for several years before its eventual closure.



Other events that occured in December

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