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Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra
Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra

The St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Russia's oldest symphonic ensemble, was founded in 1882. That was the year, when on the Order of Alexander III, the Court musical choir has been established, the prototype of today’s Honoured collective of the Russian Federation. Thus, in 2007, the orchestra has celebrated its 125th anniversary. The Musicians' Choir was founded to perform in the «royal presence» - at receptions and official ceremonies and at the balls, plays and concerts at the Royal Court. The pinnacle of this type of activity was the participation of the choir in 1896 in the coronation ceremony of Nicholas II.

In 1917 the Orchestra became the State Orchestra and following the Decree of 1921 it was incorporated into the newly founded Petrograd Philharmonic, the first of its kind in the country. Shortly after, the unprecedented tours began of the whole pleiad of Western conductors. Their names enjoy the unquestioned authority in today’s musical world: Otto Klemperer (the conductor also conducted the subscribe concerts), Bruno Walter, Felix Weingartner. As soloists, Vladimir Horowitz and Sergey Prokofiev with his piano concertos perform with the orchestra. On the initiative of the foreign conductors, the orchestra begins to play the modern repertoire – Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Berg, Hindemith, Honegger, Poulenc. There also sound the music of domestic composers. Back in 1918, directed by the author, the orchestra had performed for the first time, the Classical symphony of Prokofiev. And in 1926 Shostakovich makes a debut with his First symphony in the Grand hall of Philharmonia (conducted by Nikolay Malko).

In 1934 the orchestra was the first in the country to receive the title of the Honoured orchestra of the Republic. Four years later Evgeny Mravinsky, the winner of the First Prize of the National Contest of Conductors, joined the orchestra and for the next 50 years he gradually transformed it into one of the best orchestras in the world. In respect to the performance of Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich symphonies, they start to call it «the model». The class of the virtuoso orchestra permitted its recognition (among the orchestras of H. von Karajan, B. Walter, Amsterdam Concertgebouw) as best interpreter of Mozart music in the Viennese festival dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the composer. The unique for the musical world is also the creative alliance of Mravinsky and Shostakovich.

In 1988 on the initiative of the orchestra, Yuri Temirkanov becomes the principal conductor of the most famous national orchestra. The history opens the «Temirkanov era», the period of collaboration with one of the most demanded conductors of our times. Only during the past several years the orchestra gave several first performances and opened the 2005-2006 Season at Carnegie Hall, which became the culmination of its performances in the most prestigious concert halls of the world. During the season 2006-2007, for the first time after a long break the orchestra went on a large-scale concert tour around Russia. It performed in Siberia in the limits of 2nd International Music Festival «Stars at Baikal», which took place in Irkutsk in September 2006. Then the orchestra played in Surgut and Hanty-Mansiysk. In December of the same year St.Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra performed in Moscow; in June 2007 also in Moscow it closed the 2nd Festival of the World Symphony Orchestras.

In the season 2007-2008 the Philharmonic Orchestra has performed the premiere of Polish Requiem by Penderecki under the baton of the author. The orchestra also had concerts in Tonhalle (Zuerich), Konzerthaus (Vienna), Theatre des Champs-Elysees (Paris) and has toured in USA during which the orchestra was called “the first Russian, the last Russian, the everlasting...” Past season was signalized by symphonic premieres by Slonimsky and Tishchenko, performances of pieces by Ives and Messiaen, large-scale pieces by Orf (Carmina Burana) and Honegger (Jeanne d'Arc), Eighth Symphony by Mahler under the buton of Nikolai Alexeev and Verdi's Requiem under the direction of Yuri Temirkanov (the release of this concert is the first one of the St.Petersburg Philharmonic Label).

Highlights of the season 2009-2010: world premiere of the new symphony by Segerstam and Russian premiere of the Fifth Symphony by Grechaninov (the concert “Music of Russian Emigration”), performing of the Ninth symphony by Beethoven and “Liturgical” Symphony by Honegger, “Psalms of David” by Penderecki and “The Symphony of Psalms” by Stravinsky, concerts of “Mahler's cycle”. Among the concerts abroad there will be performances at La Scala and Musikverein, Prokofiev Festival in Italy and Enescu Festival in Romania (“Great Orchestras” concert series). Also the Philharmonic Orchestra will participate in Moscow Rostropovich Festival. And for the 10th time for the 10th International Winter Festival “Arts Square” the orchestra will play in the Grand Hall of St.Petersburg Philharmonia.


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