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The Oldest Orchestra in the World

Based in Copenhagen, the Royal Danish Orchestra is the world’s oldest orchestra, currently consisting of about a hundred musicians.

Starting out as a trumpet corps in 1448, this orchestra initially featured 12 trumpets, kettledrums and 6 trombones. Now, it has greatly expanded and there have been over 1000 members of the ensemble and it has been led and conducted by some of the greatest and famous names in musical history. Known to be one of the most distinguished orchestras in the world, it has been home to a few of the greatest musicians.

Since its founding centuries ago, each member of the orchestra has been assigned a number. Some of these well-known former members include John Dowland (No. 140), Heinrich Schutz (No. 259), Niels Gade (No. 561), Johan Svendsen (No. 640) and Carl Nielsen (No. 657).

The Royal Danish Orchestra (which is known as Det Kongelige Kapel in Denmark) has the most distinguished lineage of guest conductors of any orchestra in the Nordic region. The composers, to name a few, are Igor Stravinsky, Leonard Bernstein, Bruno Walter, Erich Kleiber, Leopold Stokowski and Sir Simon Rattle.

Famed for its vintage sound (particularly for its string timbre), this orchestra enjoys privileged access to an exclusive collection of stringed instruments by great Italian masters like Nicolo Amati, Andrea Guarneri and Antonio Stradivari.

Now, the Royal Danish Orchestra resides at the Royal Danish Theatre and performs for opera and ballet productions and concerts.

Since the 20th century, the orchestra has toured internationally, playing at prestigious places like the Musikverein in Vienna, the Lincoln Center in New York and the Philharmonie in Berlin.

Not only is the Royal Danish Orchestra a living testament to Denmark’s illustrious musical history, but it is also a priceless resource for Danes from all walks of life all over the world.


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