The St.Petersburg Symphony Orchestra
The Orchestra was formed in 1931, when radio was experiencing its boom, as the Leningrad Radio Orchestra. Most of the broadcasts were live, so from the very first, the musicians had to master a complex and vast repertoire. The war period became a legendary part of the Orchestra‘s history. The Orchestra was the only one to stay and perform in the besieged city of Leningrad . Its activities culminated in the performance of Shostakovich‘s Seventh Symphony on the 9-th of August 1942 - the day the Nazis planned to enter the captured city. The Orchestra‘s work during the siege became a unique monument to the irrepressible dignity of the human spirit.
After WW II, although the orchestra still worked for the radio, its live concert appearances became more and more frequent, so it was quite natural that it became part of the Leningrad Philharmonia. The Great Philharmonic Hall has been its main venue ever since. The Orchestra prepared many new programs, participated in Philharmonic subscriptions. At the same time it preserved the generic features characteristic of a radio orchestra: ability to play at sight, sensitivity and quick reaction to conductor‘s intent. During this period, the Orchestra was headed by N.Rabinovitch (1953-1960) and A.Yansons (1961-1968).
A new period in the Orchestra‘s life started in 1968 when young Yuri Temirkanov was appointed its Chief Conductor. Temirkanov who had just won the All-Union Conducting Competition was already acknowledged and loved by the Leningrad audience. He enlarged the repertoire and introduced new interpretation of classical music. The orchestra started touring abroad: first Scandinavian countries, then Europe , Japan and the USA . Its high artistic level was noted by critics. "Leningrad deserves two great orchestras, and it does have them", - newspapers wrote.
In 1977, when Temirkanov left the Orchestra for the Mariinsky Theater, the post of Chief Conductor was assumed by Alexander Dmitriev - Rabinovich‘s pupil, a worthy inheritor of the Leningrad/St.-Petersburg conducting school traditions. His creative collaboration with the orchestra which has lasted for over two decades has proven to be extremely fruitful. The programs they prepared together included compositions that had never been performed in St.Petersburg before - Handel‘s Oratorio "The Power of Music", Mahler‘s Eighth Symphony, Preliminary Action by Scriabin-Nemtin, Debussy‘s "Pelleas et Melisande", Zemlinsky‘s "Undina" and many others. These programs were acknowledged by critics and obtained the recognition of the audience.
In 1985 the Orchestra received the honorary title of Academic for its great contribution to the national performing arts.
At present it is one of the leading symphony orchestras of Russia . Its playing is noted for its wonderful sense of ensemble and unique individualities of the leaders and soloists. The Orchestra copes easily with new repertoire and feels equally confident when playing music of varying epochs and styles.
The Orchestra successfully tours abroad and participates in the international festivals held in St.Petersburg including such festivals as Arts Square , The Stars of White Nights, Musical Spring, Christmas Meeting in Northern Palmyra , Musical Olympus etc. The Orchestra participated in the Second International Rostropovich Cellists‘ Congress and appeared in the gala concert dedicated to the 60th anniversary of Yu.Temirkanov‘s birth.
Since its conception the Orchestra has been an active advocate of modern music. Its programmers constantly include works by R.Schedrin, A.Petrov, S.Slonimsky, B.Tischenko, G.Ustvolskaya, Yu.Falik and many others.
Prominent Russian and Western conductors such as K. Eliasberg, M. Sargent, K. Mazur, K. Osetrreicher, P. Argento, D. Barbirolli, O. Frid, G. Sebastian, E. Mravinsky, E. Svetlanov, B. Khaikin, I. Mousin, G. Rozhdestvensky, D. Kitaenko, A. Lazarev, P. Kletzki, L. Maazel, L. Segerstam, R. Benzi, Y.- P. Tortelier, M. Rostropovich, V. Gergiev, V. Sinaisky, M. Yansons etc., have worked with the Orchestra.
Working with different conductors‘ individualities and facing the continuous expansion of the repertoire made the Orchestra mobile and flexible, so it obtained its unique image in a short time.
The orchestra’s history is marked with great soloists’ names, including S.Richter, E.Gilels, D.Oistrach, L.Kogan, V.Cliburn, I.Stern, A.Fischer, I.Menuhin, P.Furnier, L.Marshall, G.Sokolov, E.Virssaladze, N.Gutman, V.Tretyakov, R.Kerer, Yu.Bashmet, B.Pergamenshchikov etc.
The 75th anniversary of the Orchestra is the time of its artistic maturity with renowned traditions in the past and challenging perspectives on the future.