In its centenary year, ‘Forward: 100 Years of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’ by Richard Bratby celebrates a truly pioneering orchestra. We are delighted to announce the book will be published on Thursday 28 November 2019 by Elliott & Thompson Limited in association with the CBSO, and available to purchase from cbso.co.uk from Friday 15 November (£25 full colour hardback).
Over a century of history, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra has taken different names and forms. It has weathered war, recession and social change, evolving from a part-time municipal ensemble into a symphony orchestra with a worldwide reputation. But throughout it all, the CBSO has been Birmingham's orchestra - the musical embodiment of one of the world's great cities, in all its ambition, complexity and diversity.
The CBSO's list of `firsts' is striking: the first major orchestra to present children's concerts, the first to appoint permanent education staff, a pioneer in its attitude to female musicians and management, and a globally recognised example of the power of the arts to drive urban renewal. Each of its conductors brought something new, from the quiet determination of Leslie Heward and the rejuvenating energy of George Weldon to the revolutionary transformation of the Simon Rattle years, and the bold new vision of Sakari Oramo, Andris Nelsons, and Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla.
But the CBSO's history extends far beyond the concert platform, embracing Edward Elgar and Neville Chamberlain; Jean Sibelius and Benjamin Britten; rock bands, film scores and Bollywood legends. Through tragedies and triumphs, gruelling tours and an unwavering commitment to new music and new audiences, the orchestra has survived and thrived, taking as its watchword Birmingham's own motto: Forward. This is its story.
Forward: 100 Years of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is illustrated with archive and contemporary images, including previously unpublished material.
Richard Bratby writes on music for The Spectator, Gramophone and The Arts Desk and is deputy music critic of The Birmingham Post, as well as a programme note writer for the CBSO, the BBC, the Royal Opera House and the Salzburg Festival. In 1998 he joined the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra as Hall Manager of the new CBSO Centre, and went on to launch and manage the Centre Stage chamber music series and the CBSO Youth Orchestra before leaving to become a full-time writer in 2015. During his sixteen years with the orchestra he served for four years as staff representative on the CBSO Board, and was latterly Secretary and Chief Executive of the CBSO Benevolent Fund.; Born on the Wirral, Richard studied History at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, before playing as principal cello in the now-defunct Sri Lanka Philharmonic Orchestra. After a stint as a history teacher, he joined the staff of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 1997 before moving to the CBSO the following year. He is married to the theatre historian Annette Rubery, and they live in Lichfield with their cat Boris.