St.Petersburg Symphony Orchestra

St.Petersburg Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2021. The celebration of this anniversary began in the last season, which, like the current one, was timed to coincide with another important date, the 100th anniversary of the St. Petersburg Philharmonia. In the cycle of historical concerts which were dedicated to the anniversary of the orchestra, the programs were held in the Grand Hall under the baton of B. Walter, A. Kluitans, E. Mravinsky, M. Jansons, K. Sanderling. Programs from the repertoire of N. Rabinovich, K. Eliasberg, A. Jansons, A. Dmitriev, who headed the orchestra in different years. June 22 marked the start of the Great World War with the performance of Shostakovich's legendary Seventh Symphony. This concert, which included the honoring of the musicians of the St.Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, was conducted by Vladimir Altschuler.

The history of the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra traces back to 1931. It started as a concert ensemble and became the Leningrad Radio Symphony Orchestra later.  Working in live broadcast, the musicians mastered a diverse repertoire. Mobility of the orchestra, which was led by H. Unger, then I. Alterman, facilitated through cooperation with many conductors: O. Fried, F. Stiedry, A. Gauk, V. Dranishnikov, N. Golovanov, E. Mravinsky, I. Musin, B. Khaikin, E. Grikurov, K. Eliasberg, N. Rabinovich, K. Kondrashin.

During the war, the Leningrad Radio Orchestra was the only one to remain 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, on 9th August 1942, headed by K. Eliasberg, it performed the Leningrad premiere of Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony. Currently, critics state that «the performance by the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra can be called highly authentic: there is a feeling that the musicians have inherited the tradition of orchestral performance of the «Leningrad Symphony» from the older generation» (Tianjin Daily, 2015). During the siege the Orchestra performed over 300 times, part of the concerts - including the premiere of the «Leningrad Symphony» – took place at the Grand Philharmonic Hall.

Continuing to play on the famous stage, the orchestra received the status of the Philharmonic in 1953. 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. S. Baudo, I. Markevitch, K. Masur, L. Maazel, E. Svetlanov and G. Rozhdestvensky conducted the orchestra; V. Cliburn, S. Richter, E. Gilels, I. Stern, Y. Menuhin, D. Oistrakh, M. Rostropovich, D. Shostakovich soloed with it.

In 1968, the orchestra was headed by Y. Temirkanov. The conductor initiated a rapid growth of the orchestra’s repertoire and played a major role in gaining international recognition: 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 to June 2018, the orchestra was led by Alexander Dmitriev. During this phase of the orchestra’s history, it was awarded the "Academic" title (1985), its biography and repertoire were replenished with first in our city performances of works by Handel, Mahler, R. Strauss, Debussy, Ravel, Scriabin, Schreker, Honegger, Tippett, Orff, Dutilleux, Arvo Pärt, Schnittke, Nono, Ligeti, Adams, Crumb, Piazzolla as well as Leningrad – St. Petersburg composers, and recording of all the symphonies of Beethoven and Schubert, works by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, Ravel and Britten. Conductors N. Järvi, A. Katz, D. Kitaenko,  Y. Simonov, V. Fedoseyev, 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, Y.P. Tortelier, A. Buribaev; 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 were the orchestra’s creative partners.

The orchestra participates in prestigious international festivals, tours around Europe, Asia and America: in recent seasons it has visited the UK and China twice, for the first time - Israel, as well as Finland and Spain. The reviews were high: "First-class Tchaikovsky and impressive Shostakovich from the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra" (Bachtrack, 2015); "Musicians undoubtedly demonstrated absolute insight into the music of their homeland and showed that they understand and love it. The tempo and dynamics were impeccable, and the playing was amazing; these performers are able to handle any composition and control every beat and note. They lived in and breathed by music, demonstrating a worth imitation skill of playing, and this performance was smoothly and confidently led by Dmitriev, in the manner of which there is not a drop of theatricality" (, 2017); "True passion: Alexander Dmitriev brought brightness and dynamism from St. Petersburg to London" (Bachtrack, 2017); "Rimsky-Korsakov was delightful: in the first part you could feel the sea waves and the noise of the wind, as if you were on a ship with Sinbad" (Rugby Advertiser, 2017).

For the fourth season Nikolay Alexeev has been actively cooperating with the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, performing the opening and closing season concerts, going on tours.

In the 2019/2020 season, the orchestra leaded by N. Alexeev performed in China, toured Latvia with the Boris Eifman Ballet Theater. The conductor's tour with the Orchestra is planned in China at the end of December this year. N. Alexeev also opens (with S. Dogadin) and closes the season with the St.Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, under his conducting will be performed Brahms’ and Beethoven’s Violin Concertos, Tishchenko’s Dante Symphony No.5 and other works. In December 2021, the St.Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, together with N. Alexeev, will take part in the Gala Concert of the “Arts Square” International Festival dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Philharmonia. The conductor will also hold one of the musical evenings dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the Orchestra at the festival. The program of the evening will be composed of pieces performed by Y. Temirkanov when Maestro was the chief conductor of this Orchestra in 1968-1976. The Orchestra conducted by N. Alexeev will take part in the “Musical Collection” Festival at the end of the season.

Conductor Vladimir Altschuler, who has been working with the St.Petersburg Symphony Orchestra for over 25 years, is celebrating his 75th birthday this season. The concert dedicated to this anniversary with soloist A. Rudin will be performed in November. The program of the concert includes Schumann's Cello Concerto, Brahms's Fourth Symphony and Liszt's Preludes. In January, the conductor will traditionally hold a concert dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. In the cycle of concerts dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Philharmonia, a concert in memory of S. Slonimsky will take place. S. Slonimsky’s 23rd symphony - dedicated to Vladimir Altschuler, will be performed by the Orchestra and the conductor for the first time in  St.Petersburg. In addition, the conductor will perform concerts in honor of Zemlinsky (150th anniversary of his birth) and Mendelssohn (175th anniversary of death). In April, the repertoire of the Orchestra will feature Mahler's First Symphony, which is also conducted by Vladimir Altschuler, and Haydn's Trumpet Concerto (soloist S. Nakaryakov). And in May and June, the orchestra and conductor are expected to perform at the opening of the 57th “St. Petersburg Musical Spring” International Festival and at the “Musical Collection” Festival (together with E. Virsaladze).

In the 2021/2022 season, the St.Petersburg Symphony Orchestra will take part in a series of concerts dedicated to the 150th anniversary of Scriabin’s birth and the 225th anniversary of Schubert’s birth, as well as in programs for the 75th John Adams’ anniversary and the 90th anniversary of Rodion Shchedrin.

Among the guest conductors this season are V. Fedoseyev, A. Buribaev, S. Kochanovsky, A. Libreich, A. Titov, J. MacMillan, V. Uryupin, P. Baleff, D. Liss, A. Anikhanov, F. Korobov; soloists include pianists E. Virsaladze, A. Gindin, A. Kashpurin, N. Mndoyants, I. Rudin, A. Tarasevich-Nikolaev, A. Melnikov; violinists S. Dogadin, P. Milyukov, A. Rozhdestvensky, V. Repin; cellists A. Rudin, Z. Fang; singers O. Petrova, A. Kalagina, M. Agadzhanyan and others.

St. Petersburg Philharmonia Title Partner
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Saint-Petersburg Philharmonia