CBS Symphony Orchestra

Bob Kosovsky
1997 rev. 2017
An earlier version first appeared on this site in 1997. To celebrate the 20 + years Bob Kosovsky provided us with interesting information here is an update!


From his hiring at the Columbia Broadcasting System in 1933 through 1950, Bernard Herrmann’s name was known to millions of radio listeners primarily as conductor of the Columbia Broadcasting System Symphony Orchestra. By 1936 he was distinguishing himself by programming unusual and rarely-heard works, and is credited with a number of broadcast premieres (such as the 1947 broadcast of Charles Ives’s Symphony No. 3).

Throughout much of the 1940s the Columbia Symphony Orchestra was heard as the off-season summer replacement for the Sunday afternoon broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic. This enabled the orchestra to receive a high profile. During the main part of the season, the orchestra would be broadcast at various times, usually as part of an educational series such as “Gateway to Music” or “The American School of the Air” (Sometimes these two series overlapped). The most significant of these series was “Invitation to Music” which commenced in April 1943. A 1946 publicity brochure proudly announces how the orchestra stays away from the standard repertoire of the New York Philharmonic and explores the unusual, while still engaging notable soloists and guest conductors.

During most of 1948, Bernard Herrmann was on sabbatical while composing his opera “Wuthering Heights.” As part of a series of across-the-board financial cutbacks, CBS disbanded the orchestra in 1950.

The lists are assembled from notes and manuscripts found in the Music Division of The New York Library for the Performing Arts.

Bob Kosovsky

CBS Symphony Orchestra
Bob Kosovsky • 1997 rev. 2017
Orchestra/ensemble: CBS Symphony Orchestra
Company/organization: CBS