The largest independent symphony orchestra in Thuringia, the Jenaer Philarmonie (Jena Philharmonic Orchestra) was established in 1934 with the intent to revive and continue the old traditions of the "Collegium musicum Jenense" and the academic concerts by the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena). In 1953 it became a symphonic orchestra and acquired its present-day status of philharmonic orchestra in 1969. The Jenaer Philarmonie has appeared throughout Germany and in many European countries. There have been successful appearances in concerts for Radio France at the Festival Printemps Musical in Paris, at the opening of the 38th International Festival Wratislavia Cantans in Poland and at the Sagra Musicale in Rimini in September 2004, in France in May 2008 and in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, in April 2010. The current Intendant of the orchestra is Bruno Scharnberg.
In addition to the orchestra, the Philharmonic Choir (Philharmonischer Chor Jena), the Boys' Choir (Knabenchor der Jenaer Philharmonie), and the Jena Madrigal Choir (Jenaer Madrigalkreis) are parts of the Jenaer Philharmonie. The three choirs associated with the Jenaer Philarmonie ensure that the complete choral-orchestral repertoire is a part of the orchestras schedule.
Ernst Schwaßmann was the orchestra's first Generalmusikdirektor (General Music Director, GMD), from 1934 to 1945. Andrey Boreyko, GMD from 1998 to 2003, now has the title of Ehrendirigent (honorary conductor) with the orchestra. Andrey Boreyko conducted the orchestra in commercial recordings for such labels as Teldec. In April 2012, the orchestra appointed the American conductor Marc Tardue as its next GMD, effective September 2012.
Since autumn 2005 the Jenaer Philarmonie has been a partner in the European Union sponsored network ONE, together with seven orchestras from France, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Latvia and Germany. Since autumn 2008 the Jenaer Philarmonie has been a member of the Thuringian Orchestral Academy, a joint project of the Franz Liszt School of Music, Weimar and the Staatskapelle Weimar, for the artistic development of graduates in orchestral instruments.
The orchestra has made commercial recordings for such labels as Teldec and CPO, including music of Franz Liszt and Wagner for the latter.