Records of the San Jose Symphony, which operated between 1878 and 2001 in San Jose, California. The collection includes business
records, scrapbooks and programs, photographs, press clippings, and recordings of performances.
In 1878, conductor/musician F. Louis King arrived from England and an Australia tour to lecture in San Francisco, and was
hired by the College of the Pacific to head their new Music Department, and a private conservatory. He founded the San Jose
Orchestral Society, drawing on many local musicians from the San Jose Normal School faculty and Germania Verein Amateur Orchestra
then extant; it was the first classical European-style orchestra west of the Mississippi. He and J. H. Elwood of the Normal
School also mounted a giant choral festival in October, 1878, that attracted hundreds of singers, musicians -- and potential
audiences -- for the new orchestra.
The name was later changed to the San Jose Symphony; it performed under King until 1892, when Herman Brant succeeded him.
After World War I, the symphony declined until it was reorganized and combined with the San Jose Elks Orchestra (the two groups
shared members); the group continued to perform, decline and reorganize periodically through the 1950s and 1960s under William
Van der Heide and Sandor Salgo, until George Cleve became conductor between 1972-1992, succeeded by Leonid Grin.
Management and financial problems, crises and scandals periodically threatened the existence of the Symphony over the years;
it struggled until 2001 when it could no longer continue.
Players and managing director Andrew Bales reorganized the group and saved the instrumental scores, and the Silicon Valley
Symphony continued the tradition, playing in the Center for the Performing Arts until opening in the restored California Theatre
San Jose Symphony conductors:
1878: F. Louis King
1890: Hermann Brandt
c. 1937: William Van den Burg
1941-1945: Suspended during war era
1946: Gaston Usigli
1950s: Sandor Salgo
1970: James K. Guthrie
1972: George Cleve
1992: Leonid Grin