Philharmonia Orchestra celebrates 75th Anniversary in 2020!

Photo by Camilla Greenwell

The Philharmonia Orchestra has today announced part one of a year of programming to celebrate its 75th anniversary, marking three-quarters of a century of world-class concerts, definitive recordings, technological innovation, community-led outreach and artistic adventure.

Philharmonia at 75 opens in January 2020 with a pair of concerts conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen focusing on the orchestra’s founding year and featuring the world premiere of a new commission from Mark Anthony Turnage, Towards Alba, a Horn concerto commissioned by the Philharmonia with support from John and Carol Wates.

Founded in 1945, in part as a recording orchestra for the nascent home audio market, the Philharmonia now uses the latest digital technology to reach new audiences for symphonic music. VR experiences featuring music by Sibelius, Mahler and Beethoven, placing the viewer at the heart of the orchestra, have been presented at Southbank Centre, where it is Resident Orchestra, and internationally. The Orchestra is led by Finnish conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen. Fellow Finn Santtu-Matias Rouvali takes over from Salonen as Principal Conductor in the 2021/22 season.


Photo by Camilla Greenwell


Salonen said:

The Philharmonia started as a direct result of the advent of the LP. The orchestra’s founding was a response to the technological development of the day and ever since, the Philharmonia has been at the forefront of tech in classical music. Utilising pioneering technology and constantly being at the forefront of industry developments means that the orchestra adapts easily to new frontiers and new repertoire, because development has been in its DNA since its birth.”


Photo by Katherine Leedale


On 16 January 2020, Salonen conducts a French Horn-themed programme inspired by famous French Horn players connected with the Philharmonia, including Dennis Brain, Richard Watkins (soloist in the world premiere of Towards Alba) and Salonen himself.

On 19 January 2020, the Philharmonia performs a concert of music composed in 1945, the year the Orchestra was founded. Salonen conducts three very different masterworks composed for a world emerging from the destruction of the Second World War: Vaughan Williams‘ Symphony No. 6, Richard Strauss’ Oboe Concerto (with Principal Oboe Tom Blomfield the soloist) and Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements. This concert is supported by the Nathan Family.


Photo © Philharmonia Orchestra


In addition to the initial concerts, and to celebrate three-quarters of a century of remarkable recordings, the orchestra is partnering with Warner Classics, which owns much of the Orchestra’s back catalogue, to release a box set of recordings from the years the Philharmonia was run by its founder, Walter Legge (1945-64).

Philharmonia – Birth of a Legend features recordings with conductors that made the early Philharmonia one of the greatest orchestras in the world: Herbert von Karajan, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Guido Cantelli, Arturo Toscanini, Otto Klemperer and Carlo Maria Giulini.

Philharmonia – Birth of a Legend was coordinated by Jon Tolansky. The box set will be released internationally on 24 January 2020.

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