Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra
The Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Russia's oldest symphonic ensemble, was founded in 1882 by the order of the Emperor Alexander III of Russia as the Royal Court musicians’ choir.
In 1897 the Court Choir became the Court Orchestra. In the early 20th century the orchestra was entitled to perform for the general public, introducing the audiences to the Russian premiers of Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben and Also sprach Zarathustra, Mahler’s First Symphony, Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony and Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy. Richard Strauss, Alexander Glazunov, Serge Koussevitzky and other world-renowned musicians conducted the orchestra.
In 1917 the Orchestra joined the newly founded Petrograd Philharmonia. Shortly after, it began touring under acclaimed western conductors including Otto Klemperer, Bruno Walter and Felix Weingartner. Vladimir Horowitz and Sergey Prokofiev appeared as soloists with the orchestra, the latter performing his piano concertos. In 1918 the orchestra gave the premiere of the Classical Symphony by Prokofiev under composer’s baton, while in 1926 Shostakovich debuted with his First Symphony at the Grand Hall of the Philharmonia under the baton of Nikolay Malko.
In 1938 Evgeny Mravinsky joined the orchestra. During his tenure of half a century, he turned the orchestra into one of the finest orchestras worldwide. The alliance between Mravinsky and Shostakovich was unmatched in the world of music, with many composer’s symphonies premiered by Mravinsky. In 1975 the Philharmonia assumed Shostakovich’s name. The orchestra introduced the Leningrad concert-goers to the music of other Russian contemporary composers as well as to the Soviet premieres of works by Honneger, Hindemith, Bartók, Penderecki, Schönberg, Britten, and Poulenc.
In 1952 collaboration with Gennady.Rozhdestvensky has begun. After the death of Mravinsky in 1988, the orchestra elected Yuri Temirkanov its chief conductor.
Highlights over recent years have included the 7th “Leningrad” Symphony by Shostakovich performed at the United Nations at the 60th anniversary of the WWII Victory; performance at the opening of the Carnegie Hall season, the first ever by a Russian orchestra; appearance at the opening of the First Rostropovich Festival in Moscow; Enescu in Romania and MiTo in Italy.
The repertoire has been refined by Russian premieres of Il canto sospeso by Nono, Fifth Symphony by Grechaninov, Polish Requiem by Penderecki and Post Scriptum by Victor Kissine; by the world premieres of …al niente by Kancheli, Symphonies by Segerstam, Slonimsky, Tishchenko; by the St Petersburg premieres of the Seventh Symphony in E-Major by Schubert, oratorio L'enfance du Christ by Berlioz, Eine Messe des Lebens by Delius, and Der Schneemann by Korngold.
The 2013/14 season the orchestra honoured Maestro Temirkanov celebrating a double anniversary: 25 years at the helm of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and the 75th birthday anniversary. This special year was crowned with the St. Petersburg premiere of Desyatnikov’s The Ride of the Winter 1949 and the Russian premiere of Sheng’s compositions conducted by the composer. The orchestra also performed Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, Tchaikovsky’s fragments from Eugene Onegin, Mussorgsky’s fragments from Boris Godunov, compositions of Schönberg, Janáček, Poulenc, Rota, Bernstein and Karłowicz.
The highlights of the 2014/2015 season feature a journey through British music at the Art Square festival. Collaborations with conductors and soloists include Mariss Jansons, Jean-Claude Casadesus, Thomas Sanderling, Michail Jurowski, Vassily Sinaisky, Nikolai Lugansky, Denis Matsuev, Eliso Virsaladze, Christian Blackshaw, Alena Baeva, Maxim Vengerov, Alexander Kniazev and Natalia Gutman.