Richard Wagner's dream of a festival house for the performance of his music dramas took years to come to fruition. But when his vision was finally realized, the world's most-celebrated festival orchestra was also born. For the ceremonial laying of the theater's cornerstone on May 22, 1872, Wagner himself conducted a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, a tradition that is continued to this day by the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra each summer. The members of the festival orchestra are chosen from among Europe's best musicians, with certain traditions holding sway for generations, such as the use of horn players from the Vienna Philharmonic. The orchestra members are positioned in the theater as Wagner insisted: in a cavernous room below the stage, completely invisible to the audience. The special acoustics of this configuration make each performance at Bayreuth a unique experience.