Founded in 1548 by the Elector Moritz von Sachsen, the Staatskapelle Dresden is among the world’s oldest orchestras and it is rich in tradition; it is probably the only one which has existed continuously for more than four and a half centuries, and has always been among the leading orchestras during every epoch. Along with its unique musicianship, founded on its quite specific ensemble spirit, the unmistakable sound of the Staatskapelle has evolved through its long tradition in matters of timbre, transparency and homogeneity, which has lead audiences and critics everywhere to refer to it as one of the great orchestras of our time. Important conductors and internationally celebrated instrumentalists have left their mark on the former Hofkapelle, now Staatskapelle. Its musical directors have included Heinrich Schütz, Johann Adolf Hasse, Carl Maria von Weber and Richard Wagner, who called the orchestra his “miraculous harp.” Important principal conductors of the 20th century were Ernst von Schuch, Fritz Reiner, Fritz Busch, Karl Böhm, Joseph Keilberth, Rudolf Kempe, Otmar Suitner, Kurt Sanderling and Herbert Blomstedt. From 1992 until his death in 2001 Giuseppe Sinopoli was the principal conductor, then from 2002 until 2004 Bernard Haitink. At the beginning of the 2007/2008 season Fabio Luisi became General Musical Director of the Staatsoper Dresden and therefore also the principal conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden. The honorary conductor of the orchestra since 1990 is Sir Colin Davis. In April 2007 the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden was the only orchestra so far to be awarded, in Brussels, the “Prize of the European Cultural Foundation for the preservation of the musical world cultural heritage”.