Winterthur occupies a prominent position in Europe’s cultural landscape. This is not only thanks to its art collections, but also to its boutique symphony orchestra – the Musikkollegium Winterthur – which is now launching the 2021/22 season with renewed vigour under its promising young Chief Conductor, Roberto González-Monjas.
The Musikkollegium Winterthur’s long history, which dates to 1629, has clearly left its mark: the commitment of bourgeois families in the 18th century is continued today by the numerous members of the association. The Stadthaus concert hall designed by Gottfried Semper dates from the 19th century and was inaugurated in the same year as Vienna’s Musikverein. The early 20th century was a particularly important time for Winterthur. Patron of the arts Werner Reinhart, together with conductor Hermann Scherchen, transformed the city into a centre of European musical life during this period. Igor Stravinsky, Richard Strauss and Anton Webern maintained links with the city, as did Clara Haskil and Wilhelm Furtwängler.
The Musikkollegium Winterthur – 400 years history in 3 minutes
Such a legacy entails obligations: no other classical symphony orchestra in Switzerland is as naturally committed to the modern classical repertoire as the Musikkollegium Winterthur. The ensemble also gives world première performances, most recently of works by composers such as Richard Dubugnon, Johannes Maria Staud and David Philip Hefti. In the 2019/20 season, the Rychenberg Competition, entered by composers from more than 30 countries, attracted further international attention.
The orchestra’s other repertoire focuses on the classical and early romantic periods, but the agile ensemble also likes to shed new light on great symphonies, such as those by Brahms, to whom it devoted a recent CD recording. In cooperation with Zurich Opera House and the Theater Winterthur, the Musikkollegium Winterthur is also heard regularly in opera and ballet productions. With more than 40 seasonal concerts as well as foreign tours and an award-winning musical education programme, the orchestra is an outstanding institution.
Many personalities have contributed to the excellent quality of the ensemble: not only former chief conductors such as Franz Welser-Möst, Heinrich Schiff and Thomas Zehetmair, long-standing guest conductors such as Heinz Holliger, Reinhard Goebel and Michael Sanderling, but also internationally sought-after soloists – who always return to the Musikkollegium Winterthur with pleasure. Yuja Wang, Andreas Ottensamer, Sir András Schiff, Ian Bostridge and Patricia Kopatschinskaja, among others, regularly make guest appearances in Winterthur.
Igor Stravinsky and Werner Reinhart at the Rychenberg
Hermann Scherchen (1891–1966), permanent guest conductor of the Musikkollegium from 1922–1950
Joseph Keilberth (1908–1968), permanent guest conductor from 1951–1968