New Haven Symphony Orchestra turns 125

A community-driven mission dates back to the founding of NHSO.

Cover of New Haven Symphony Orchestra's first program. Image credit: NHSO
New Haven Symphony Orchestra performs in Woolsey Hall. Photo credit: NHSO

One hundred twenty-five years ago, a group of amateur musicians in New Haven began gathering to play classical works by Bach, Beethoven, and other European composers. The orchestra was comprised of German immigrants who had been missing the music of their home country. Within a year, they staged a concert to share the best of their culture with America. The New Haven Symphony Orchestra was born.

Now the 4th oldest symphony in the country after New York, Boston, and Chicago, New Haven Symphony Orchestra turns 125 this year and is celebrating a long tradition of making high-quality orchestral music available to all.

The 2018-19 season kicked off on Friday with School Night at the Symphony, an annual tradition where the NHSO invites all K-12 students, teachers, staff, and their families to attend a Classics Series concert free of charge. The event was co-sponsored by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

New Haven Symphony Orchestra is supported with donor-advised and designated funds at The Community Foundation, including the Richard L. English Fund. The Foundation has also supported NHSO with grants to reach young audiences and provide educational opportunities. NHSO provides tickets free of charge to any attendee under 18 who is accompanied by an adult.

Read more about the history and mission of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra in Season Magazine.

To learn more, visit the NHSO profile on

Did you know? ;

In a season, NHSO reaches 38,000 people, 18,000 of them were children and does programs in 42 school districts around the state.

This story is part of the Inspiration Monday story series produced by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.