St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra

The history of the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra began with the Decree of Alexander III on 16 July 1882, which initiated the creation of the Court Choir. Transformed into the Court Orchestra at the beginning of the XX century, for the first time in Russia, the orchestra performed the symphonic poems “Ein Heldenleben“ and “Also sprach Zarathustra“ by Richard Strauss, Mahler’s First Symphony and Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony, Scriabin’s “Poem of Ecstasy” and Stravinsky’s First Symphony. A. Nikisch and R. Strauss conducted the orchestra as well as A. Glazunov, who dedicated the “Festival Overture” to the orchestra. In 1917, the Court Orchestra became the State Orchestra, and was headed by S. Koussevitzky.

In 1921, the orchestra, given the hall of the former Noble Assembly at its disposal, opened the country’s first Philharmonia. The unprecedented in scale activities of the orchestra drew a new and sometimes far removed from classical music audience to its Grand Hall. Outstanding Russian musicians underwent a rigorous test of their conducting skills with the orchestra. Such legendary Western conductors as B. Walter, F. Weingartner, H. Abendroth, O. Fried, E. Kleiber, P. Monteux and O. Klemperer; soloists V. Horowitz and S. Prokofiev performed with the orchestra. The orchestra mastered a vast contemporary repertoire. In 1918, it presented the premiere of Prokofiev’s “Classical Symphony”, and in 1926 – Shostakovich’s First Symphony.

In 1934, the orchestra – the first in the country – was awarded the title Honoured Ensemble of Russia.

1938 ushered in a half-century of the “Age of Mravinsky” – years of hard work, which earned the orchestra a place among the most prominent orchestras of the world. In 1946, the orchestra embarked on its first foreign trip – and gave its first overseas performance in the country’s symphonic performance history. This was followed by regular tours around the world, performing at the most prestigious European festivals.

Since 1988, Yuri Temirkanov has headed the orchestra. From year to year, the results of the musicians’ collaboration receive enthusiastic press reviews. “If the St Petersburg Philharmonic’s all-Russian first Prom was a hard act to follow, its second, also under chief conductor Yuri Temirkanov, brought yet another feast of idiomatic Russian playing” (The Guardian, 2015). “This is a unique orchestra with a special, “Leningrad” sound ...” (Codalario, 2016).
«This evening, St. Petersburgers presented a low-key interpretation, faultlessly played – as one might expect from this most resplendent of orchestras…” (The Guardian, 2017).
For the last two seasons, the orchestra’s intense touring schedule has included concerts at The Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, New York’s Carnegie Hall, Vienna’s Musikverein, the Kennedy Center in Washington, the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, the Berlin, Munich and Hamburg philharmonics. The orchestra took part in many prestigious festivals.
Among the most prominent St Petersburg programs of the last season are Rodion Shchedrin’s author’s evening, Verdi’s “Requiem” and Janáček’s “Glagolitic Mass”, Prokofiev’s cantata “On the 20th Anniversary of October” and Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.

The 2018/2019 season’s repertoire includes such works as Shostakovich’s Eighth and Thirteenth Symphonies, Oratorio’s «Ivan the Terrible», Prokofiev’s Third and Fifth Symphonies, Bartók’s and Lutosławski’s concertos for orchestra, Poulenc’s Double Piano Concerto, Charles Ives’ «Holidays» Symphony, Berg's Three pieces for orchestra Op.6, Schnittke’s Fourth Violin Concerto, “Alladin” Suite and Nielsen’s «Helios» Overture. Giya Kancheli's «Letters to friends» world premiere will take place, and within the framework of the «Art Dialogues» subscription, held in conjunction with the State Hermitage, Dutilleux’s «Starry night» (inspired by Van Gogh’s painting), Walton's Cello Concerto and Tishchenko’s Dante's Fifth Symphony Paradise will be performed. There will be concerts with the participation of the orchestra, dedicated to the 80th anniversary of its Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Yuri Temirkanov. Among them is a series from the traditional First Subscription, entirely dedicated to the anniversary of the Maestro, as well as the "Arts Square” International winter festival concerts.

© International Rostropovich Festival “Mstislav Rostropovich Week”, 2010 — 2019