Skip to main content

Collection on the Minnesota Orchestra

Identifier: M/A 0285

Description of Contents

The Minnesota Orchestra Collection consists of 9 boxes. The first 4 boxes contain newspaper clippings on both the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra, ranging in date from 1904 to 2002. In addition to general clippings, subject clippings include files about the building, Musicfest, and Sommerfest. Box 5 consists of letters, newsletters and reports, promotional material, Encore magazine, press books, season catalogs, and miscellaneous materials. Boxes 6-9 contain press releases from 1949 to 1999.


  • 1904 - 2005


Access Restrictions

The collection is available for use in Special Collections during the department's open hours.


Emil Oberhoffer founded the Minnesota Orchestra under the name, The Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra in 1903. Their first concert was held on November 5th of that year. At first, the Orchestra did not have a permanent home so they travelled around to perform. In 1907, the Orchestra played its first regional tour and in1912 they made their New York debut at Carnegie Hall, a location they continue to visit regularly. The Orchestra started holding performances in the Northrop Memorial Auditorium at the University of Minnesota Campus in 1929. In 1968 the Orchestra changed its name to the Minnesota Orchestra and in 1974 they moved into their very own concert space, Orchestra Hall, at 1111 Nicollet Mall. In addition to Minneapolis performance venues, the Minnesota Orchestra has performed many world tours, traveling to Australia, Europe, Canada, the Far East, Latin America, and the Middle East.

The Minnesota Orchestra has also reached out to an international audience through recordings and broadcasts, which have drawn acclaim since the 1920s when the Orchestra was one of the first to be heard through these media. The landmark Mercury Living Presence LP recordings of the 1950s and 1960s have been reissued on CD to great acclaim. And Friday night performances are broadcast live regionally by Minnesota Public Radio—a weekly tradition for more than 35 years.

The Minnesota Orchestra also connects with music lovers annually through educational programs including Young People’s Concerts, family concerts, and Orchestra-sponsored initiatives such as the Adopt-A-School program, Side-by-Side rehearsals, the UPbeat program, and concerts with young area musicians. Beginning in the 1980s, the Orchestra also began hosting a yearly summer festival for which many concerts were performed highlighting different genres or themes.

Since 2007, the Orchestra has suffered from a shrinking endowment, made worse by the stock market crash in 2008. On October 1, 2012, the Minnesota Orchestral Association locked out the Orchestra’s musicians and ended up canceling all concerts for the 2012-2013 seasons for failing to reach a new collective bargaining agreement. During this time, Orchestra Hall underwent a $50 million renovation scheduled to be completed in fall 2013.

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) has bestowed upon the Orchestra 20 awards for adventuresome programming, including Leonard Bernstein Awards for Education Programming in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2012 and, in 2008, the John S. Edwards Award for Strongest Commitment to New American Music.

Directors of the Minnesota Orchestra: Emil Oberhoffer, 1903-1922 Henri Verbrugghen, 1923-1931 Eugene Ormandy, 1931-1936 Dimitri Mitropoulos, 1937-1949 Antal Dorati, 1949-1960 Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, 1960-1979 Sir Neville Marriner, 1979-1986 Edo de Waart, 1986-1995 Eiji Oue, 1995-2002 Osmo Vänskä, 2003-present


15 Linear Feet (11 boxes, 13 oversize folders)

Language of Materials


Donor Information

This collection was compiled by library staff over many years. Programs from the 1990s and 2000s were donated by the family of Barbara Flanagan in September 2018 as accession 2018.34.

Related Materials in Hennepin County Library Special Collections

Annual Reports from 1975 to 2002 are cataloged in the Minneapolis Collection, see: ML28.M52 M55.

For information about the Minnesota Orchestra Volunteer Association, see the Women's Association of the Minnesota Orchestra (WAMSO) Collection (M/A 0210).

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Bailey Diers and Faith Kollar in 2013. Materials from accession 2018.34 were added by Jenna Jacobs in December 2018.

Collection on the Minnesota Orchestra
Faith Kollar and Bailey Diers
November 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Hennepin County Library Special Collections Repository

Minneapolis Central Library
300 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis MN 55401 U.S.A.