The Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya (Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, the National Orchestra of Catalonia) was founded in 1944 under the conducting of Maestro Eduard Toldrà. In 1962, Rafael Ferrer took over until 1967. Since then, the orchestra has been led by the maestros Antoni Ros Marbà (1967‐1978, 1981‐1986), Salvador Mas (1978‐1981), Franz‐Paul Decker (1986‐1991), García Navarro (1991‐1993), Lawrence Foster (1996‐2002), Ernest Martínez Izquierdo (2002‐2006) and Eiji Oue (2006‐2010). From the 2010‐2011 season, the OBC has a new head conductor, Pablo González, a young Asturian recognised mainly as a clear emerging talent on the international scene.
In its more than 60 years of history, the Orchestra has programmed numerous first performances and has made several recordings with Decca, EMI, Auvidis, Koch, Claves, Naxos, Telarc and BIS, amongst others, with works by Montsalvatge, Gerhard, Falla, D’Albert, Albéniz, Donhány, Bartók, Bizet and outstanding international performers. The OBC has been three times awarded the Latin Grammy for the "Best classical music album": in 2000 with the CD La Dolores, in 2004 with the CD Carmen Symphony and in 2006 with the CD Rhapsody in blue. The Orchestra has also been continuously artistically active abroad, with tours of different countries of Europe, Asia and the United States, enabling it to perform in renowned halls such as the Carnegie Hall in New York and to take part in international festivals such as the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall In London.
The Orchestra has received the collaboration of conductors and soloists of great renown, such as Elihau Inbal, Jesús López Cobos, Daniel Barenboim, Christopher Hogwood, Michel Plasson, Emmanuel Krivine, Leonard Slatkin, Dmitri Kitajenko, Frank Peter Zimmermann, Shlomo Mintz, Arcadi Volodos, Victoria de los Angeles, Alicia de Larrocha, Misha Maisky, Pinchas Zukerman, Kiri Te Kanawa, Martha Argerich, Joshua Bell, Barbara Hendricks, Hilary Hahn, Michel Camilo, Ute Lemper, Gidon Kremer, Truls Mörk and Gianluca Cascioli, amongst many others.
The Orchestra is committed to disseminating classical and contemporary music of all cultures and tendencies, giving priority to Catalan composers. At the same time, the Orchestra participates actively in the school concerts and different activities organised by the Auditori Educational Service.