The St. Petersburg Philharmonia, the oldest Philharmonia in Russia, is more than two hundred years old. Its history goes back to 1802 when the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Society, the first one in Europe, was created. It organized the world premiere of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis in 1824.
The building housing the Philharmonia was constructed in 1839 by the architect P. Jacot (the facade designed by C. Rossi) for the St. Petersburg Assembly of the Nobility.
The hall with its wonderful acoustics and a seating capacity of over 1500 has been the center of the city's musical life since the 1840s. Numerous renowned musicians of the 19th century performed including F. Liszt, H. Berlioz, R. Wagner, G. Mahler, A. Rubinstein, K. Schumann, P. Viardo, P. Sarasate and many. Many works of such exponents of Russian classical tradition as Borodin, Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Glazunov were premiered in this historic place.
On June 21, 1921 the name was changed to the Petrograd Philharmonia. The orchestra was conducted by E.Couper, the first Director of the Philharmonia, a talented conductor and brilliant organizer.
The concert program was dedicated to P.I.Tchaikovsky's works. In a short period of time the Philharmonia developed diverse concert, educational and publishing activities; the unique Philharmonic Library was instrumental to these endeavors. The Philharmonic Orchestra (at present the St. Petersburg Philharmonic) became its leading orchestra. In the course of 50 years (1938 - 1988) it was headed by the outstanding Russian conductor E.A. Mravinsky. Since 1988 Yuri Temirkanov, one of the world's leading conductors, has been Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Orchestra.
Over the years the concert repertoire was broadened with works by the distinguished composers of the XX century such as Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Bartok, Hindemith (all of them performed in the Great Hall). The number of guest artists also increased. Such famous twentieth-century musicians as O.Klemperer, B.Walter, E.Ansermet, E.Kleiber, L.Stokowski, A.Cortot, A.Schnabel, A.Rubinstein, B.Britten, F.Fischer-Diskau, S.Richter, E.Gilels, A.B.Michelangeli, G.Gould, Y.Menuchin, M.Rostropovich and many others appeared in the Hall.
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