The Szeged Symphony Orchestra is the most important representative of the city’s musical life. The historical roots of the orchestra of the city of Szeged can be traced back to the 18th century when a living quarter was built for “the city’s musicians” who played in travelling operas of mainly German troupes. During the 19th century, with a few interruptions, a “city orchestra” was performing under various names. The year of 1919 was a remarkable one in the history of the orchestra, when, by the name of Szeged Philharmonic Company, it became a real symphony orchestra in the sense this term is used nowadays. For ten years the orchestra was led by Ferenc Fricsay until the end of the World War II; during these years, famous guests made their appearance on the conductor’s podium, such as Willem Mengelberg, Erich Kleiber, and Pietro Mascagni who conducted his own opera.
In 1969 the Szeged Symphony Orchestra was established as a separate entity under this name by the legendary conductor and composer Viktor Vaszy; the orchestra became the core of the local concert life and a regular participant on the international concert podium. They are also the orchestra of Hungary’s second largest opera ensemble at the Szeged National Theatre. Besides performing its tasks at the opera, the orchestra became a notable concert orchestra. The principal conductors, following the founder conductor Viktor Vaszy, were Tamás Pál (from 1975 and from 1989), Géza Oberfrank (from 1983), and Ervin Acél (from 1991 to 1999). In 1999 Sándor Gyüdi became principal conductor and director of the Szeged Symphony Orchestra. In 2008 he was appointed general director of the Szeged National Theatre passing on the leading position of the orchestra to Gábor Baross and then, from 2013, Győző Lukácsházi.
Acclaimed guest conductors have been invited to the orchestra, such as Lamberto Gardelli, Carlo Zecchi, János Ferencsik, András Kóródi, Miklós Erdélyi, Ervin Lukács, János Fürst, Ádám Medveczky, Zoltán Kocsis and János Kovács. The orchestra gave concerts all over Europe, and from the 1990s, in Taiwan, Singapore, Brazil and China. The orchestra’s recordings have been released by Hungaroton (Hungarian record company) and by Italian, Spanish, German, Danish, Belgian, English and American music companies.