Musicians of the Oldenburgisches Staatsorchester
While professional musicians cultivated music in Oldenburg as far back as the 17th century, the orchestra's direct roots go back to 1797, when Grand Duke Peter I Friedrich Ludwig founded a "chamber ensemble" consisting of 20 members of the military band. In 1832, the Grand Duke Paul Friedrich August, at the instigation of his music-loving wife Grand Duchess Cäcilie, converted the ensemble into a Grand Ducal Court Orchestra. This orchestra consisted of four to five court musicians and 28 members of the infantry band, which was initially used for military and court purposes.
The establishment of regular public concerts was of great importance for the first Kapellmeister August Pott (1832 - 1861), as well as the introduction of regular, disciplined rehearsals. Since 1870 the number of civil professional musicians employed has only increased. The military repertoire gradually gave way to works from the classical-romantic musical tradition, which shaped the repertoire of the orchestra well after the First World War. In 1919 the orchestra became the "state orchestra" and in 1922 earned the sponsorship of the Free State of Oldenburg. The self-government of the orchestra was initiated by the introduction of an orchestra board under the state music director Julius Kopsch (1920 - 1924). Since 1921 the orchestra plays regularly in the opera sector and has always attached great importance to enriching the repertoire with contemporary pieces, including early highlights of Albans Berg's "Wozzeck" and the world premiere of his "Three Orchestral Pieces" op. 6.
The orchestra was adopted by the city in 1938 and has since been institutionally linked to the Oldenburg State Theater as the Oldenburg State Orchestra. After the Second World War, the number of orchestra musicians increased, as did the number of subscribers. In their repertoire selection, numerous conductors of the orchestra continued the promotion of contemporary music and also set their own accents. Hans Georg Ratjen (1950 - 1955) introduced Musica Viva concerts in Oldenburg and Wolfgang Schmid (1977 - 1984/85) highlighted a contemporary composer each year. Other general music directors were Knut Mahlke, Reinhard Seifried, Alexander Rumpf and Thomas Dorsch as music director. He was succeeded by Roger Epple as General Music Director between 2012 and 2016. Estonian Hendrik Vestmann took over this position in the 2016/2017 season.
Of special importance to the Oldenburgische Staatsorchester, which currently consists of around 70 musicians, is music education: Not only children and family concerts, but also music education offers such as 'Children in the Orchestra' and 'Workshop Concerts' are regularly on the schedule.