The LSO was formed in 1904 when 50 members of the Queen’s Hall Orchestra rebelled against Sir Henry Wood’s edict that ‘no deputies’ be sent to rehearsals and concerts.
W.H. Reed played violin for the LSO for 38 years (23 as Leader) and during that time became a great friend of Elgar – one of the reasons the composer was so attached to the Orchestra.
Over thirty members of the Orchestra served in the Forces during World War I. One member, trumpeter Sydney Moxon, died while helping a wounded colleague to safety in Ypres, October 1916.
The LSO has always flown the flag and was the first British orchestra to visit the US (1912), Japan (1963), and South Africa (1956).
When the Orchestra toured to the US in 1912 it originally had tickets for the Titanic. An accident in testing one of her sister ships meant the Titanic's maiden voyage was delayed, leaving the LSO to choose between delaying the start of its tour or leave on the replacement (but less newsworthy) Baltic. Choosing the latter because of the scheduling of concerts, they heard the news of the disaster involving Titanic when they reached St Louis.
Sir John Barbirolli made his London debut with the LSO in 1927. He later married Evelyn Rothwell, who was a member of the LSO’s oboe section.
The LSO gave a concert at the United Nations HQ in New York during the first World Tour in 1964. U Thant, Secretary General at the time, was present at the concert.
The LSO performed the fiftieth anniversary concert of The Rite of Spring at the Albert Hall in 1963, with Pierre Monteux conducting (he had conducted the first performance) and with Stravinsky in the audience.
In 1966, the LSO was given a biennial residency at the Florida International Festival (Daytona Beach), a residency which continued until 2009.
In 1973 the LSO was the first British orchestra to be invited to play at the Salzburg Festival. André Previn conducted.
In 1975 the LSO Trust, together with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, restored Holy Trinity Church in Southwark, turning it into a rehearsal and recording hall. Some years later the LSO raised the funds, with assistance from UBS, to convert the abandoned church, St Luke’s in Old Street, into their community and education centre.
Carlos Kleiber conducted the LSO only once, in 1981 in Milan and London. Although the audiences were ecstatic, the reviews were extremely critical and as a result Kleiber never returned to London.
In 1965 Mstislav Rostropovich joined the LSO and conductor Gennadi Rozhdestvensky for a marathon series of concerts when he performed practically every cello concerto in the repertoire, from Vivaldi to Shostakovich.
The biggest audience that the Orchestra has performed to was in 2012 when it appeared in a sketch with Rowan Atkinson at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. The global audience was estimated at 4 billion.