St.Petersburg Symphony Orchestra

The St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2021. This year we are celebrating the 70th anniversary since the orchestra joined the St Petersburg Philharmonia.

The orchestra traces its history back to 1931, starting its activity as concert ensemble, and soon as the Leningrad Radio Symphony Orchestra. Playing in live broadcast, the musicians mastered a diverse repertoire. The orchestra’s mobility, which had been led by H. Unger, then by I. Alterman, was facilitated through cooperation with many conductors: O. Fried, F. Stiedry, A. Gauk, V. Dranishnikov, N. Golovanov, E. Mravinsky, I. Mussin, B. Khaikin, E. Grikurov, K. Eliasberg, N. Rabinovich, K. Kondrashin.

During the war, the Leningrad Radio Symphony was the only orchestra that remained in the besieged city. Despite the fact that in the first winter of the war the orchestra actually ceased to exist, nonetheless, after heroic efforts, in August 1942, headed by K. Eliasberg it performed the Leningrad premiere of Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony. Currently, critics argue that “the performance by the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra can be called highly authentic: there is a feeling that the musicians have inherited from the older generation the tradition of orchestral performance of the ‘Leningrad’ Symphony”. (Tianjin Daily, 2015). Altogether, the orchestra performed more than 300 times during the blockade, and some concerts – including the premiere of the “Leningrad“ symphony – were held at the Grand Philharmonic Hall.

Continuing to step out onto the famous stage, in 1953, the orchestra received the status of a Philharmonic. It was headed by N. Rabinovich, K. Eliasberg and A. Jansons, who took the orchestra on its first foreign tours (Finland, 1965). In 1962-1963, I. Stravinsky and B. Britten performed their compositions with the orchestra. The orchestra also played under the batons of S. Baudo, I. Markevitch, K. Masur, L. Maazel, E. Svetlanov and G. Rozhdestvensky, soloists – V. Cliburn, S. Richter, E. Gilels, I. Stern, Y. Menuhin, D. Oistrakh, M. Rostropovich, D. Shostakovich.

In 1968, the orchestra was headed by Yuri Temirkanov. The conductor initiated a rapid growth of the orchestra’s repertoire, which played a crucial role in gaining their recognition abroad: the orchestra toured in Bulgaria, Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands (including the Amsterdam Concertgebouw), Japan and the United States. “Leningrad is a magnificent city, it deserves two great orchestras. And it has them..." (New York Post, 1977, after a concert at Carnegie Hall).

From April 1977 – June 2018, Alexander Dmitriev headed the orchestra. During this phase of the orchestra’s history, it was awarded the “Academic” title (1985); its biography and repertoire were replenished with the first performances in our city of works by Handel, Mahler, R.  Strauss, Debussy, Ravel, Scriabin, Schreker, Honegger, Tippett, Orff, Dutilleux, Part, Schnittke, Nono, Ligeti, Adams, Crumb, Piazzolla as well as Leningrad-St Petersburg composers, and recorded all the symphonies of Beethoven and Schubert, works by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, Ravel and Britten. The orchestra’s creative partners include conductors N. Jarvi, A. Katz, D. Kitaenko, Y. Simonov, V. Fedoseev, A. Lazarev, E. Serov, R. Barshai, J. Domarkas, R. Martynov, V. Ziva, E. Klas, P. Kogan, M. Shostakovich, V. Sinaisky, S. Sondeckis, A. Titov, M. Rostropovich, P. Berglund, M. Jurowski, J.-C. Casadesus and Y.P. Tortelier; composer K. Penderecki; soloists G. Sokolov, N. Gutman, E. Virsaladze, Y. Bashmet, V. Tretyakov, J. Lill, J. Ogdon, R. Holl, P. Donohoe and F. Kempf.

The orchestra takes part in prestigious international festivals, and tours in the countries of Europe, Asia, and America. Review ratings were always high: “First-class Tchaikovsky and impressive Shostakovich from the Academic Symphony Orchestra” (Bachtrack, 2015). “The players irrefutably had a total grasp, understanding and love of the music of their homeland. Tempo and dynamics were spot on and the playing was simply astonishing; artists in total control of every composition, ever bar and every note. They lived, breathed and played with exemplary musicianship, coaxed along by Dmitriev whose fluent, controlled conducting never deviated into unnecessary histrionics” (Bristol.com; 2017). “Raw passion: Alexander Dmitriev brings dynamic taste of St Petersburg to London” (Bachtrack, 2017). “Rimsky-Korsakov was delightful: in the first part, one could feel the excitement of the sea and the sound of the wind, as if being on a ship with Sinbad” (Rugby Advertiser, 2017).

Nikolay Alexeev has been actively cooperating with the orchestra for the sixth season, performing the season’s opening and closing concerts, going on tours. In December 2021, the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra under the baton of N. Alexeev took part in the XXI Arts Square International Winter Festival dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Philharmonia (soloists E. Virsaladze, N. Lugansky, Z. Fung). In the 2022/2023 season E. Leonskaja (Austria) and E. Virsaladze soloed in the concerts of N. Alexeev at the opening of the XVI Music Collection International Festival. In the new season, N. Alexeev (in ensemble with F. Kopachevsky) reopens the season of the Academic symphony orchestra. The concert planned for November with the participation of soloists L. Berlinskaya and A. Ancelle (France) promises to become a major event.

Under the leadership of Vladimir Altschuler, who has been working with the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra as a full-time conductor for over 25 years, last season the orchestra has performed monographic concerts dedicated to Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff (on the day of the 80th anniversary of the composer’s death), in December, an evening was held in memory of the Leningrad Radio Committee Orchestra’ siege concert on December 14, 1941, and in June (in an ensemble with A. Kashpurin) – a concert-closing of the orchestra season. In the 2023/2024 season the conductor presents works by Schumann, Bruckner, Glinka, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Mahler, Schönberg; in January 2024 he will traditionally hold a “Yellow Stars” concert for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and in June, under his direction, the orchestra will close its season.

Last season, the orchestra presented monographic concerts as part of the “Rachmaninoff. Pages of the diary” subscription dedicated to the composer’s 150th anniversary. Concerts took place on the 85th anniversary of V. Uspensky and the 90th anniversary of S.Slonimsky, on the 120th anniversary of A. Khachaturian and the 125th anniversary of Brahms’ death, on the 70th anniversary of K. Saariaho, the 75th anniversary of A. Lloyd Webber and 85th anniversary of P. Glass, and at the XXII Arts Square International Winter Festival an evening was held dedicated to the 90th anniversary of R. Shchedrin. Soloists such as E. Leonskaja (Austria), E. Virsaladze, V. Fedoseyev, V. Repin, F. Korobov, A. Anikhanov, A. Soloviev, D. Jurowski, A. Gindin, A. Ramm, M. Kultyshev, F. Kempf (Great Britain), F. Mondelci (Italy), N. Hakhnazaryan (Armenia), G. Kazazian, N. Koutcher, M. Fedotov and other musicians performed with the orchestra. St Petersburg premieres of the Third Violin Concerto by S. Gubaidulina, the “Heroes” Symphony No. 4 by P. Glass, “Verification” by A. Korolev, “Ciel d’hiver” by K. Saariaho.

In the 2023/2024 season, the orchestra holds the entire subscription “All Tchaikovsky Symphonies”, and also takes part in other philharmonic cycles, including the subscription «Anton Bruckner. The Great Austrian Romantic» (to the composer’s 200th anniversary), «Philharmonic from “The Creation”», «Master and Margarita», «Classics. New» and others.

In January 2024, the orchestra will take part in a cycle dedicated to the 80th anniversary of Leningrad’s complete liberation from the fascist blockade, and will perform the concert program of the Leningrad Radio Committee Orchestra, which was played at the Philharmonic under the direction of K. Eliasberg on August 30, 1943. Within the framework of the XXIII Arts Square International Winter Festival, the orchestra conducted by D. Botinis and with the participation of pianist F. Kempf will perform a program of works by Chopin and Prokofiev.

The guest conductors feature V. Fedoseyev (with a monographic program from Tchaikovsky's works), F. Korobov, A. Anikhanov, D. Jurowski, A. Rybalko, M. Alexeev, A. Soloviev, Yu. Lebedev, P. Maksimov, O. Soldatov, M. Kukushkin, E. Bushkov, A. Danilov and others.

The soloists feature F. Kempf (Great Britain), V. Kuleshov, E. Mechetina, F. Kopachevsky, B. Andrianov, A. Korobeinikov, O. Weinstein, A. Laukhina, laureates of the XVII Tchaikovsky International Competition S. Davydchenko, I. Papoyan, F. Osver, I. Sendetsky, as well as dramatic artists S. Makovetsky, A. Galibin.

In addition to symphonic classics, the orchestra's programs include music by E. Artemyev, A. Petrov, I. Schillinger, Yu. Falik, A. Schoenberg, F. Brook, T. Takemitsu, G. Korchmar, N. Kapustin, V. Pleshak, P. Maurice, N. Khrushcheva.

In December-January, the orchestra is scheduled to tour in China (conductor D. Botinis)

Grand Hall:
191186, St. Petersburg, Mikhailovskaya st., 2
+7 (812) 240-01-80, +7 (812) 240-01-00
Small Hall:
191011, St. Petersburg, Nevsky av., 30
+7 (812) 240-01-70
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Box office opening hours: 11 am to 8 pm (on concerts days to 8.30 pm)
Lunch Break: 3 pm to 4 pm
Box office opening hours: from 11 am to 7 pm (on concerts days to 7.30 pm)
Lunch Break: 3 pm to 4 pm
© 20002024
Saint-Petersburg Philharmonia