After finding himself on the losing side of the May Revolt in Dresden, Richard Wagner fled to Zurich in 1849 where he hired himself out to conduct the local orchestra. It was for them that in 1854 he wrote an arrangement of the overture to Gluck’s Iphigenie in Aulis, adding a new ending of his own. ATMA offers the first-ever recording of Wagner’s original, discovered in the Zentralbibliothek Zürich in the late 1990s. The Orchestre Symphonique Bienne delivers two more gems: a studio recording of Siegfried-Idyll in its original version for chamber orchestra and excerpts of the first-ever video recording of the work in the venue of its world première, the Tribschen villa in Switzerland.
Richard Strauss also came to Switzerland. He soon signed a contract with Boosey and Hawkes for several new works. One of these was an Oboe Concerto, apparently prompted in mid-1945 by his meeting with John de Lancie, an American oboist-turned-GI who was stationed at Garmisch.
The Orchestre Symphonique Bienne was founded in 1969. Its activities centre on its series of symphony concerts in Bienne (Switzerland), and in recent years it has specialized in the repertoire of the Viennese Classics and the early Romantics. From 2005 to 2011, Thomas Rösner was the chief conductor of the Orchestre Symphonique Bienne.