One Magazine’s Top 20 Orchestras List

In 2008 Gramophone Magazine took a poll of prominent critics and declared the top 20 orchestras in the world. They were:

1 Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
2 Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
3 Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
4 London Symphony Orchestra
5 Chicago Symphony Orchestra
6 Bavarian Radio Symphony
7 Cleveland Orchestra
8 Los Angeles Philharmonic
9 Budapest Festival Orchestra
10 Dresden Staatskapelle
11 Boston Symphony Orchestra
12 New York Philharmonic
13 San Francisco Symphony
14 Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra
15 Russian National Orchestra
16 Leningrad Philharmonic
17 Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
18 Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
19 Saito Kinen Symphony Orchestra
20 Czech Philharmonic

Gramophone gathered the following panel for the poll: Our panel of leading music critics comprised: Rob Cowan, James Inverne, James Jolly (all from Gramophone, UK), Alex Ross (the New Yorker, US), Mark Swed (Los Angeles Times, US), Wilhelm Sinkovicz (Die Presse, Austria), Renaud Machart (Le Monde, France), Manuel Brug (Die Welt, Germany), Thiemo Wind (De Telegraaf, the Netherlands), Zhou Yingjuan (editor, Gramophone China) and Soyeon Nam (editor, Gramophone Korea). The magazine’s discussion of the poll is here.


  1. In 2008 the ranking is true but in my listener position [there is a genuine need for many more of me – only a good listener with no musical course to my name] today the Simon Bolivar National Symphony of Venezuela. The best example for my case is a YouTube video of Dugamel and the SBNSV performing the Mahler 2nd at the BBC Proms concert.

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