From 1952 until 1962, the U.S. Seventh Army maintained a full-time professional orchestra based in Stuttgart. James Dixon, Kenneth Schermerhorn and Henry Lewis were among the orchestra’s principal conductors.
The photograph below depicts Henry Lewis rehearsing the orchestra in Stuttgart’s then-new Liederhalle in 1956.
The Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra gave a regular concert series in Stuttgart, toured the continent annually (giving approximately 100 tour performances each year), appeared regularly on European radio and television, and participated in music festivals throughout the continent, often appearing in the pit for festival opera performances.
The orchestra befriended and attracted the patronage of Dimitri Mitropoulos, and engaged notable guest conductors such as Antal Dorati. The Seventh Army Symphony, in its brief lifespan, operated as a major institution.
On November 22, 1957, a bus carrying members of the orchestra, then on tour, overturned outside Phillipsburg, Germany (near Heidelberg). Five players were injured in the accident and numerous musical instruments were damaged or destroyed.
The remarkable color photograph below captures the immediate aftermath of that accident.