(NSO) American symphony orchestra based in Washington, D.C. It was founded in 1931 by Hans Kindler, who served as its first music director (193149). Subsequent directors have been Howard Mitchell (194969), Antal Dorati (197077), Mstislav Rostropovich (197794), and Leonard Slatkin (music director designate, 199496; music director from 1996). As the orchestra of the capital of the United States, the NSO performs for events of national and international significance. Originally based at Constitution Hall, the NSO has been housed, since 1986, in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where it had performed regularly since the Center's inaugural in 1971. During his directorship, Dorati rebuilt the orchestra and extended its repertoire. In this period the NSO first achieved artistic recognition, made critically acclaimed recordings, and instituted the commissioning of new works. Under Rostropovich, the NSO's level of artistic achievement rose even higher. Commissions included works by Alfred Schnittke. Among the tours in which Rostropovich led the NSO were four to Europe and four to Asia, a 1990 trip to the Soviet Uion, and a 1993 trip to Russia. Notable Rostropovich recordings include the complete opera Boris Godunov and symphonies by Dmitry Shostakovich. Since 1993 the NSO has participated in the National Symphony Orchestra American Residencies for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. With the eventual goal of visiting all 50 states, the NSO spent 10 days in Alaska giving formal and informal concerts and interacting with the community; in 1994 the NSO brought the program to Louisiana.

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