Classical MPR

Melissa OusleyProduced by Minnesota Public Radio, Minnesota Orchestra concert broadcasts are among the finest available on the radio today. The two-hour programs feature onstage interviews with artists, insights from host Melissa Ousley and exceptional Minnesota Orchestra performances.

Tune to Classical MPR at 99.5 FM in the Twin Cities or online to hear the Friday night concerts broadcast live at 8 p.m.

Across the Nation

How else can you tune in? Minnesota Orchestra broadcasts are regularly heard nationwide, by radio and through online streaming, on American Public Media’s national programs, SymphonyCast and Performance Today.

Decades of Continuous Broadcast

The Minnesota Orchestra and Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) hold one of the longest continuous broadcast partnerships in the country. The Orchestra’s relationship with MPR began in the late 1960s, with the first live concert broadcast in 1971. When the Minnesota Orchestra moved to its new home at Orchestra Hall three years later, MPR initiated live statewide broadcasts of every Friday night subscription concert. MPR’s award-winning Minnesota Orchestra broadcasts are distributed internationally by American Public Media and are regularly heard on SymphonyCast, Performance Today. Minnesota remains one of a handful of major orchestras that can still be heard live on air, thanks to the Minnesota Orchestra’s strong relationship with MPR.

The First Broadcast: March 1923

Verbrugghen Dons EarphonesIn March 1923, the illustrious Bruno Walter was on the podium when the Minnesota Orchestra went on the air for the first time. It was the first radio experience not only for the Orchestra, but for Walter as well. An enthusiastic Walter exclaimed: “Imagine playing to an audience all across the continent, with thousands listening!”

Thousands were indeed listening, and more than 500 letters arrived in response to an offer of a $25 prize for the one from the most distant point reached by each broadcast. A lumberjack in northern Wisconsin reported that an older man at camp, who had never heard symphonic music before, became so excited by the concert that he danced a jig and swallowed his tobacco. Two boys in Denver, who had built their own receiving set, stayed up late to hear the entire concert and wrote, “We didn't know there was such music.” And a disabled war veteran in London, Ontario, described the broadcast as “a godsend.”

The Minnesota Orchestra continued broadcasting concerts intermittently on a variety of stations for the next 50 years, and in 1974 it initiated a regular weekly series on MPR.