The world's oldest orchestras – a definitive chart

Acting on information received in response to a speculative punt last night, I am in a position to compile a list of the world’s oldest orchestras that are still in full functioning existence. Each has claimed, at some point or other, to be the oldest. Feel free to add or challenge.

1 Copenhagen: Royal Danish orchestra…. 1448

2 Weimar Hofkapelle …. 1491

3 Kassel Hofkapelle …. 1502

4 Stockholm: Kungliga Hovkapellet … 1525

5 Dresden (or Saschsiche) Hofkapelle … 1548

6 Karlsruhe – Badische Staatskapelle … 1662

7 Mannheim …. 1702 (?)

8 Leipzig Gewandhausorchester …. 1743

What, nothing in Austria or Italy?

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  • May I ask, who was the principal oboist in the Royal Danish orchestra in 1448? Did he have to ride a horse all the way to southern France for his reeds? My guess is that von Karajan was the conductor around from 1451 to 1877 or so.

    • The Royal danish orchestra didn’t start as a symphony orchestra but as a section of Trumpets and percussion. So when King Christian the first was crowned the Royal Danish Orchestra played. But it has since changed ofcourse to being a full symphony orchestra.

  • The Meininger Hofkapelle is celebrating its 325th anniversary this year, which would make its founding in 1690.

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