St.Petersburg Symphony Orchestra

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 St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra traces its history back to 1931. For more than two decades, the orchestra’s activity was linked with the Leningrad Radio – at first a concert ensemble, and soon as a large symphony orchestra. Working in live broadcast, the musicians mastered a diverse repertoire. Mobility team, which was led by H. Unger, then I. Alterman, facilitated by the 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 in 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, their compositions performed with the orchestra I. Stravinsky and B. Britten. For remote staff were also 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 title “Academic”, gave premiere performances in our city of works by Handel, Mahler, Richard 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, V. Chernushenko, 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; composers Gyorgy Ligeti and Krzysztof 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 has taken part in prestigious international festivals, and has toured Europe, Asia, and America. Over the past four seasons, he has visited the UK twice, Israel for the first time, and also went to Finland, China (twice) and Spain. Review ratings were 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).

For the fifth season Nikolay Alexeev has been actively cooperating with the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, performing the opening and closing of the season concerts, going on tours. In December 2021, the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra under the leadership of N. Alexeev took part in the Gala Concert of the Arts Square International Festival dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Philharmonia. E. Virsaladze and N. Lugansky performed with the orchestra at the Festival Gala, and N. Alexeev together with Z. Fung performed the music from Y. Temirkanov’s programs during the concert dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the orchestra. This new season N. Alexeev is opening (together with E. Leonskaja) and closing the orchestra’s season.

Under the leadership of Vladimir Altschuler, who has been working with the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra for over 25 years and has recently celebrated his 75th birthday, the orchestra has performed the dedicated to Mr. Altschuler Slonimsky’s 23rd Symphony for the first time in St Petersburg. They have also held a concerts in honor of A. von Zemlinsky’s 150th anniversary of his birth. In the 2022/2023 Season the conductor presents the music by Mozart, Mendelssohn (his Symphony No. 2 Lobgesang was already performed  within the historic concert cycle “Philharmonia from the Creation”), Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Schubert, and Mahler, and in January he will traditionally hold a concert Yellow Stars dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

In the past season, dedicated to both the 90th anniversary of the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra and the 100th anniversary of the St Petersburg Philharmonia, the orchestra performed a number of historic programs from the repertoires of H. Unger, J.-C. Casadesus, Y. Temirkanov, and A. Dmitriev. The orchestra has performed with such musicians as V. Fedoseyev, E. Virsaladze, V. Repin, D. Liss, A. Liebreich, M. Fedotov, A. Titov, S. Kochanovsky, A. Anikhanov, V. Uryupin, D. Vlasenko, S. Dogadin, P. Milyukov, N. Mndoyants, I. Demidov, A. Korobeinikov, E. Mechetina, O. Petrova, I. Abdrazakov, V. Dzhioeva, V. Berzhanskaya, P. Laul, M. Kultyshev, I. Bessonov, and A. Tarasevich-Nikolaev. The concerts dedicated to the 150th anniversary of Scriabin’s birth have been held; under the leadership of V. Uryupin John Adams's “Harmonielehre” has been performed (being timed to the composer’s 75th anniversary); and the Philharmonia’s 2021/2022 season Composer in Residence Sir J. MacMillan has conducted the orchestra in a concert of his own works, including the Russian premiere of his Saxophone Concerto.

In the 2022/2023 Season the orchestra holds its musical subscription dedicated to the 70th anniversary of its joining the St Petersburg Philharmonia and participates in other cycles. The orchestra will perform four monographic concerts within the “Rachmaninov. Diary Pages” cycle timed to the 150th anniversary of the great Russian composer (V. Altschuler, F. Korobov, A. Anikhanov, F. Kempf, A. Tkachenko, A. Ghindin, and M. Kultyshev being among the participants).

The concerts dedicated to V. Uspensky’s 85th, S. Slonimsky’s 90th, and A. Khachaturyan’s 120th anniversaries of birth, as well as the one timed to the 125th anniversary of J. Brahms’ death are in this season's playbill; also there will be held the programs in memory of the concerts performed during the Siege of Leningrad by the Leningrad Radio Committee Orchestra, the successor of which is the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra. R. Shchedrin’s 90th birthday concert is expected to be this season’s highlight; under the baton of A. Anikhanov it will be performed during the International Winter Festival Arts Square.

Among the guest conductors this season are V. Fedoseyev (with a monographic program comprised of G. Sviridov’s music), F. Korobov, V. Uryupin, D. Jurowski, M. Alexeev, A. Rybalko, F. Mondelci, E. Topchjan, A. Dadashev, and the N. Malko Conducting Competition winner D. Matvienko; soloists include E. Virsaladze, V. Repin, A. Ramm, N. Koutcher, and G. Kazazyan. Besides the symphony classics, the orchestra’s programs include music by Ph. Glass and D. Bowie, Ch. Aznavour, M. Tariverdiev, A. Lloyd Webber, T. Kashif, and J. Williams, and also St Petersburg premiere of S. Gubaidulina’s Third Violin Concerto (with V. Repin soloing).

St. Petersburg Philharmonia Title Partner
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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Saint-Petersburg Philharmonia