I've always been fascinated by orchestras and how each one has its own personality. It's impossible, for example, to mistake the Philadelphia Orchestra for the Russian National Orchestra, especially if they're both playing a Shostakovich symphony. This is partly due to traditions and customs, but also has a lot to do with the conductors that helped bring each orchestra to prominence.

Philadelphia has always been known for its lush string section and, at least in the past, would often slow bigger pieces down a little so the strings could really open up. Other orchestras, like the Boston Pops, largely due to its association with Maestro/composer John Williams, have become synonymous with film scores, especially of the Spielberg variety.

Star_Wars_Saga_Philips_2894.gifFor reasons still unclear to me, The London Symphony Orchestra long ago decided it was THE rock orchestra and have recorded orchestral versions of Sting's music, Frank Zappa's, Led Zeppelin's, Yes', The Beatles, The Who, Genesis (!), the list is endless and a bit comical. For a while there, they were also the orchestra that did a lot of Bernstein musicals like Candide and On the Town. During some of those years, I had the privilege of working with the LSO and Maestro Michael Tilson Thomas and often asked the musicians what the deal was with the orchestra and rock'n'roll. The closest I ever got to a believable answer was that many of the best rock bands came out of London, so it only made sense that the LSO be the go-to group. To which I always wondered: well what about the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) or the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), or any of the other wonderful ensembles they've got over there?

So.. as already noted, many orchestras have become connected with famous conductors—maestros who've helped shape not only the repertoire the orchestra has become known for, but the actual sound. Here's a new quiz I put together where you have to match 10 of the most famous orchestras with 10 conductors who helped put them on the musical map. Get out those air-batons and give 'em a tap, tap, tap. And then come on back and let us know if it was too easy.