The North German Radio Symphony Orchestra (NDR Symphony Orchestra, German: Sinfonieorchester des Norddeutschen Rundfunks, or NDR Sinfonieorchester) is a German orchestra, the symphony orchestra of the Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) in Hamburg.
The radio orchestra was founded by British occupation authorities after World War II, as Radio Hamburg was the only radio station in what would later be West Germany not to be destroyed during the war. Its first musicians came mostly from the ranks of the old Nazi-controlled Großes Rundfunkorchester des Reichssenders Hamburg. Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt was living near the Hamburg area, and was given the task of assembling the orchestra, which occurred over a period of six months. The orchestra gave its first concert in November 1945, conducted by Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, with Yehudi Menuhin as soloist. The orchestra first visited the UK in 1951, as part of the concerts celebrating the re-opening in Manchester of the Free Trade Hall.
The orchestra is renowned for its performances of the core classical and romantic repertoire by composers such as Beethoven and Bruckner, but also noted for its interpretations of contemporary works. It rose to particular significance under the baton of Günter Wand. Wand conducted several commercial recordings with the orchestra for the RCA Victor Red Seal and EMI labels. The orchestra has also recorded for the Deutsche Grammophon and CPO labels.
Beginning with the 2011-2012 season, Thomas Hengelbrock is the orchestra's principal conductor, with an initial contract of 3 years. The orchestra's current principal guest conductor is Alan Gilbert.