Philharmonia Orchestra

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Essential Albums

  • Beethoven: Violin Concerto

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About Philharmonia Orchestra

The Philharmonia Orchestra was born in London from the ashes of World War Two, when record producer Walter Legge spotted an opportunity to establish a new top-quality orchestra as professional players returned from military service. Legge recruited with an expert eye, and the Philharmonia gave its first concert in October 1945, conducted by Thomas Beecham. Working with leading conductors such as Herbert von Karajan, the Philharmonia quickly developed a trademark style, combining technical brilliance with a richly expressive tonal palette. Legge ensured that the Philharmonia made numerous recordings, including Wilhelm Furtwängler’s classic 1952 account of Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde. The orchestra’s association with the veteran German conductor Otto Klemperer was also deeply consequential: he became the first permanent conductor in 1957, and his Beethoven, Brahms and Mahler symphonies with the orchestra were widely viewed as unimpeachable. Riccardo Muti, Christoph von Dohnányi and Esa-Pekka Salonen all played important roles in sustaining the Philharmonia’s international profile after Klemperer’s retirement in 1970. Salonen oversaw pioneering initiatives in online interactions with the orchestra, significantly increasing its digital footprint. In May 2019, the Finnish conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali was named the sixth principal conductor in the Philharmonia’s history.

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