Ospa was founded in 1950, headed by maestro Pablo Komlós, a Hungarian conductor who led the orchestra until 1978 and was responsible for firmly establishing the prestige with which the '"Gaucho" orchestra was met throughout the country. Following the passing of Komlós, Ospa's list of principal conductors includes maestros David Machado, Eleazar de Carvalho, Flávio Chamis, Cláudio Ribeiro, Íon Bressan and Isaac Karabtchevsky.

Until 1964, Ospa was maintained through the collaboration of members from the local community. Following studies, on January 22, 1965, the then Symphonic Orchestral Group of Porto Alegre was taken over by the state government and, through a decree of law n° 17,173, it was transformed into a government foundation. The musicians were, as such, recognized as public employees.

It has since been maintained by the State Government of Rio Grande do Sul and is classified as a entity part of the State Secretariat of Culture, Tourism, Sports and Leisure. It boasts an extensive agenda of concerts throughout the state, catering to a wide and diverse audience. The country’s oldest orchestra in uninterrupted activity, its program is constituted by different series like São Pedro Theater, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Churches, Araújo Vianna, Interior, Music in the Museum Didactics, Ospa Youth Orchestra and special concerts.

Many renowned artists have played with Ospa over its almost seventy years of existence. Among them are Friedrich Gulda, Antonio Janigro, Janos Starker, Pierre Fournier, Mischa Maisky, Bruno Gelber, Kurt Redel, Montserrat Caballé, Luciano Pavarotti and José Carreras. Brazilian soloists such as Nelson Freire, Arnaldo Cohen, Arthur Moreira Lima, Roberto Szidon, Miguel Proença, Antonio Meneses, Jean-Louis Steuermann and Alexandre Dossin also regularly appear as part of seasonal attractions.