The Barcelona Symphony Orchestra/National Orchestra of Catalonia (Orquestra Simfónica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya) was founded in 1944 as the Municipal Orchestra of Barcelona, and under the leadership of the Catalan composer-conductor Eduard Toldrá it became an integral part of the city’s cultural life. Since that time, the orchestra, which aspires to promote classical music—and the works of Spanish and Catalan composers in particular—has presented an annual cycle of concerts and performed with many internationally renowned soloists. After Toldrá’s death, in 1962, Rafael Ferrer took over the ensemble’s leadership until 1976, when he was succeeded by Antonio Ros Marbá. At that time the orchestra was known as the Barcelona City Orchestra, but this was officially changed to the present name in 1994. In addition to Ros Marbá, conductor from 1976 to 1978 and from 1981 to 1986, the orchestra has been led by Salvador Mas (1978–81), Franz-Paul Decker (1986–91), and García Navarro (1991–93). In 1994, Decker was named guest conductor, and, in 1995, Lawrence Foster was appointed music director. Foster served until 2002, at which point he was succeeded by Ernest Martínez Izquierdo. Since 2006, the orchestra has been under the direction of Eiji Oue.
The orchestra has given numerous premieres over the years and made many recordings, featuring the works of Monsalvatge, Roberto Gerhard, d’Albert, Falla, and Bartók, among others. It has toured Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Korea, and Japan; has performed in Romania at the George Enescu Festival; and was recently invited to appear at the Pablo Casals Festival in Puerto Rico. Since April 1999, its home has been the modern concert hall l’Auditori.