The EUYO unites Europe's most talented young musicians under some of the world's most famous conductors, in an orchestra which transcends cultural boundaries and performs to the highest international standards. Founded in 1978, the Orchestra was created as a symbol of the European ideal of a united community of nations working together to achieve peace, harmony, social justice and human dignity. As the European Union has expanded, so has the Orchestra, to continue to represent all current member states of the European Union and the ideology which binds them.
The brainchild of Lionel and Joy Bryer, Chairman and Secretary General of the International Youth Foundation of Great Britain, the proposal for the creation of the Orchestra was first put forward to the Committee on Cultural Affairs and Youth of the European Parliament in 1974. As a result of all-party effort, a resolution was adopted by the European Parliament by an overwhelming majority and the European Commission officially confirmed the Patronage of the orchestra on 22 April 1976. The Orchestra continues to be supported and financed by the Commission of the European Communities by means of an annual operating grant (voted by the European Parliament) and annual grants from the 25 member Governments. In addition to this the Orchestra seeks funding on an ongoing basis via private sector sponsorship and donations.
The Orchestra's Founding Music Director, Claudio Abbado, and first President, the Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Heath KG, MBE played extremely important roles in establishing the Orchestra as a world-class institution. Claudio Abbado donated much of his valuable time to conducting and touring with the young musicians - a role which Bernard Haitink KBE succeeded in and which is now held by Vladamir Ashkenazy. The Orchestra's President is now Josep Borrell Fontelles, President of the European Parliament, while the President of the European Commission, JosÃ© Manuel DurÃ£o Barroso and the Prime Ministers of each of the 25 member countries of the EU are Honorary Patrons of the EUYO.
Since its inaugural tour in 1978, the orchestra has gone from strength to strength and continues to attract incredibly gifted players and world class conductors, performing to full houses in all the major cities, concert halls, and festivals of Europe. As an 'Ambassador of Goodwill', the orchestra also undertakes important foreign tours to destinations which have included China, Hong Kong, Japan, India, North and South America, Eastern Europe, Russia and the Baltic States.
In addition to the EUYO's Music Directors, world famous guest conductors have included Daniel Barenboim, Leonard Bernstein, James Conlon, Sir Colin Davis, Carlo Maria Giulini, Herbert von Karajan, Zubin Mehta, Mstislav Rostropovich, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, Kurt Sanderling and Sir Georg Solti KBE. Notable soloists have who have worked with the EUYO include Martha Argerich, Emanuel Ax, Teresa Berganza, Kyung Wha Chung, Barbara Hendricks, Nigel Kennedy, Christa Ludwig, Radu Lupu, Karita Mattila, Lord Yehudi Menuhin, Viktoria Mullova, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Jessye Norman, Murray Perahia, Maurizio Pollini, Margaret Price and Ravi Shankar.
The unique experience the EUYO provides for its young musicians through tutoring and tours is not only socially stimulating and culturally enlightening, but is invaluable to their future careers. The Orchestra acts as a training ground, bridging the gap between music colleges and the professional music world. Most EUYO players go on to become professional musicians, and many have found jobs with Europe's leading orchestras.
The extremely high standards demanded of the players, combined with the incredible musical leadership of its conductors has won the EUYO an outstanding musical reputation, and regular comparisons with the world's finest orchestras. In recognition of the Orchestra's achievements prizes awarded to it include the Olympia.