For more than 70 years, the Collegium musicum Potsdam symphony orchestra has rehearsed and performed in Potsdam, which makes it the oldest orchestra in the state capital. Shortly after World War II, Hans Chemin-Petit (www.cheminpetit.de), a very well known composer and university professor during his lifetime, founded a string ensemble under the name Collegium musicum. It seems that Chemin-Petit relinquished the direction of the ensemble after one year.
Kurt Wolf, a music teacher at the Helmholtz school in Potsdam and later director of the Gera and Rathenow music schools, directed the orchestra in the following years. Concerts under his direction in the assembly hall of the Helmholtz school and the former Nikolaisaal gave the Collegium musicum a firm place in the already rich cultural life of Potsdam. Otto Wendt, a violinist in the Estrada orchestra of the Berlin Broadcast Service, virtually re-founded the orchestra in 1955 – as documented by a newly established membership directory and the celebrations held at the 10-year anniversary in 1965. During his tenure, the orchestra was augmented by a wind section and renamed as the “Potsdam Workers Symphony Orchestra”. Form the early 70s to the late 80s, the “German-Soviet Friendship House” acted as a kind of sponsor for the orchestra, providing financing, a rehearsal room and a concert hall. Instrumental for this cooperation was one of its employees, graphic designer Victor Herbert, who not only helped organize the orchestra for decades but also contributed to its artistic direction and thus became the orchestra’s “soul”.