The San Francisco Civic Symphony was founded in 1931 by Mrs. Sigmund Stern and Josephine D. Randall, making it the oldest community orchestra on the West Coast. 

Mr. and Mrs. Stern were great sponsors for the arts in San Francisco. To start the organization, they sent invitations to local high schools inviting community musicians to Mrs. Stern’s home.  Soon after, rehearsals started and the symphony started the tradition of performing for the public. 

The symphony remained a part of San Francisco’s Park and Recreation Department until early 2002, when it became an independent organization.  The symphony has since functioned as an all volunteer orchestra, managed by the members of the orchestra and volunteer supporters.