The orchestra has had a long tradition of playing contemporary music. Ludwig van Beethoven's second symphony was performed in Bergen in the year it was published; 1804 - even before it was performed in Berlin. Bergen-born composer Edvard Grieg had close ties with the orchestra, and was artistic director from 1880 to 1882. He also bequeathed a portion of his estate to a fund which continues to provide financial support for the orchestra. Other composers have served as principal conductor of the orchestra, including Arvid Fladmoe, Johan Halvorsen, Iver Holter, Richard Henneberg, Olav Kielland and Per Winge. Composer Harald Sæverud was frequently invited to conduct his own works, and the orchestra continues to commission and perform new compositions on a regular basis. Other composers who have conducted their own works with the orchestra include Aaron Copland, Karl Nielsen, Jean Sibelius, Witold Lutoslawski, Lukas Foss, and Krzysztof Penderecki. In 1953 the Festspillene i Bergen was started and Leopold Stokowski was contracted to conduct the orchestra. Other conductors at the Bergen Festival have included Eugene Ormandy and Sir Thomas Beecham.