Old Time Radio Rotating Header Image

The RIAS symphony- what do you know about Geman music during the cold war?

I have a lot of older recordings, and many of them are by the RIAS Orchestra. I looked it up, and it’s a little interesting- it stands for “Rundfunk im amerikanischen Sektor” or Broadcasting in the American Sector. It was a radio station that became the main avenue for “unbiased” (aka Western) news into East Germany, broadcasted out of West Berlin.

I couldn’t find anything on the orchestra itself, though. What do you know? And specifically, I want to know about the political influences on music during this time. I have no doubt it’s a good orchestra (it’s been great so far), but I suspect its fame may have had as much to do with its political affiliations as its actual quality. What do you think?

And how did music-making work in such a divided city? For example, was the Berlin Philharmonic on the communist side? Is that why so many of these older recordings (from the 50′s) were RIAS?

I haven’t been able to find this stuff. Thanks!

Asked by:Kalibasa

One Comment

  1. rdenig_male says:

    The RIAS made many recordings for DG in the 50s under Ferenc Fricsay of which he was the principal conductor. The orchestra appears to have been founded in 1946, It later changed its name to the German Symphony Orchestra (at a date unknown). The latest recording I have is from 1955. There was also a RIAS Chamber Choir (appears on a recording of Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Music from 1950). There appears to have been another orchestra conducted by Fricsay, the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra. The Berlin Phil was on the western side – remember its conductor during the years prior to the reunification of Germany was Karajan, a West German. I have no knowledge of the RIAS being overtly political, though it likely was having regard to its affiliation with a US broadcasting station.

Leave a Reply