The Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (Estonian: Eesti Riiklik Sümfooniaorkester) is the leading orchestra in Estonia and is based in the capital Tallinn. Founded as the Estonian Radio Symphony Orchestra, it gave its first concert in a broadcast by Tallinn Radio on December 18, 1926.
During the 1950s, the orchestra became the first in the Soviet Union (which had annexed Estonia in 1940) to perform the work of modernist composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern, and Carl Orff, previously suppressed by Stalin's regime.
Following the collapse of Soviet rule, the lifting of emigration restrictions, and the rebirth of independent Estonia in 1991, almost half of the Orchestra's players migrated to the West in search of better career opportunities. This exodus of talent plunged the Orchestra's fortunes into a depression. After the nadir of 1993, the Orchestra enjoyed a strong recovery under the leadership of conductor Arvo Volmer.