The Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra (= MPO) is one of the leading symphony orchestras in the world. The Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1951 by Samuel Samosud, a distinguished conductor of the Bolshoy Opera. Originally part of the All-Union Radio Committee, the orchestra was established primarily for the broadcasting of operatic music, and was given its current title in April 1953.
Over the decades the MPO has given more than 5,500 concerts in 50 countries worldwide. It performed in the best concert halls of the world and took part at prestigious Russian and international festivals. It has been led by such outstanding conductors as G. Abendroth, K. Sanderling, A. Cluytens, F. Konvichny, Lorin Maazel, Igor Markevitch, Zubin Mehta, Charles Munch, K. Penderecki, K. Tsekki. During his visit to Moscow in 1962 Igor Stravinsky conducted Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra.
Many great singers of the second half of the 20th and early 21st century have performed with the MPO: A. Rubinstein, I. Stern, Yehudi Menuhin, Glenn Gould, Maurizio Pollini, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, D. Oistrakh, L. Kogan, M. Rostropovich, R. Kehrer, N. Starkman, V. Tretyakov, Y. Bashmet, Nikolai Petrov, E. Virsaladze, V. Krainov, D. Matsuev, N. Lugansky, Maxim Vengerov, Natalia Gutman, A. Kniazev and others.
The MPO was conducted first by the outstanding opera and symphony conductor Samuil Samosud (1951-1957). Under the direction of its founder the MPO performed the works of many new Soviet composers and also gave concert performances of operas seldom heard by Soviet audiences. In 1957-1960 the MPO was conducted by Nathan Rachlin. During this period the team has acquired the glory of one of the best orchestras in the USSR. An extraordinary success came to the MPO at the 1st International Tchaikovsky Competition (Moscow, 1958), where the MPO (led by K. Kondrashin) accompanied to Van Cliburn in the third round of piano competition. In 1960, the MPO was the first Soviet band which toured the USA. Kirill Kondrashin has led the MPO for 16 years (1960-1976). In these years the team has worked with Dmitri Shostakovich (including the premieres of his Fourth and Thirteenth Symphonies as well as other works.), G. Sviridov, A. Khachaturian, Dmitry Kabalevsky, M. Weinberg, many works by these and other composers being the first performed by MPO. The MPO triumphantly toured many countries around the world, participating in numerous festivals of modern music throughout the Soviet Union and in many of the world’s important music centres. Since 1973 has the title of an "academic orchestra". The MPO undertook a major tour of Japan with Kondrashin in April 1967 and CD’s of the Japanese radio recordings have been made available on the Altus label.
During 1976-1990 the MPO was under the baton of Dmitri Kitaenko. Under his direction, the MPO gave the first performance in the Soviet Union of Puccini’s Messa di Gloria, and Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony. 1991-1996 - Vassily Sinaisky, 1996-1998 - Mark Ermler. Each of them has made an outstanding contribution to the history of the orchestra, its performing style, repertory and maintained the best traditions, high status and artistic level of the team.
In 1998, Yuri Simonov, People's Artist of the USSR, became Music Director and Principal Conductor of MPO. His appointment marked a new era in the history of the MPO. One year later, the press reviews extolled the progress of the team: "It’s been a long time when such performance took place in this venue - vivid, strictly verified dramaturgy, saturated with subtle shades of feelings… The famous orchestra appeared transformed, responsive to every movement of Yuri Simonov.” In 2001, critics included the band among top three Moscow orchestras. Under the baton of Yuri Simonov the MPO became world-famous. During the last four seasons only MPO performed in France (UNESCO Festival), Japan, South Korea, Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, Poland, Lithuania, UK, Spain and took part in the 35th Hong Kong Art Festival. "What a fine orchestra the Moscow Philharmonic is! And what a predominantly young orchestra too! The orchestra displayed a full and rich sound – wonderful warm string tone, singing woodwinds, forceful and ringing brass and rampant percussion (when necessary). Simonov directed performances of the highest distinction”, - wrote the British critic Bob Briggs when the band toured the UK in October 2008. The MPO tours in cities throughout Russia as part of “All-Russian philharmonic seasons” project, participation in festivals and competitions became a tradition.
Nowadays the MPO is one of the props of philharmonic life. The best projects of Moscow Philharmonic are put into practice by it: premieres of works by contemporary composers, concerts of most famous opera singers in the world, active cooperation with regional concert agencies, promotion of young talents. The team under the direction of Yuri Simonov pays great attention to work with children. In the last four seasons the staff takes part in the incredibly popular subscription for children "Tales with the orchestra” with leading Russian actors accompanied by conductors Yuri Simonov, V. Ponkin, D. Kirpanev, I. Manasherov, N. Vinokurov. "Best-sellers are not only books. These are also subscriptions for children “Tales with the orchestra” from Moscow Philharmonic", - wrote Psychologies magazine in December 2008. The project "Tales with the orchestra” was a huge success in other Russian cities also.
In January 2007 the MPO received a grant from the Russian Government. In 2010 Yuri Simonov and the MPO won the "Conductor and Orchestra" category of the Russian national "Music Review".
The main highlight of year 2011 is Yuri Simonov’s 70th birthday. It started being celebrated with New Year concerts in China; continued with concerts in Moscow and Orenburg in March; on tour in Spain and Germany in April; in Ukraine, Moldova, Romania in May. The jubilee tours will be continued in United Kingdom and South Korea throughout the season 2011-2012. Beside that, on September 15 there was one more jubilee concert - this time in occasion of the MPO itself turning 60 years. The festive season of both the Orchestra and Maestro will be supported by great soloists: B.Berezovsky, N. Lugansky, D. Matsuev, V. Ovchinnikov, Maxim Vengerov, N. Boriso-Glebsky, S. Roldugin.
Most important activities of MPO (last five seasons):
Tours: China (2007), Croatia (2004), Czech Republic (2004), France (2004, 2006), Germany (2003, 2007), Hungary (2004), Italy (2004), Japan (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008), Korea (2006), Poland (2008), Slovakia (2004), Spain (2005, 2009), UK (2005, 2008), USA (2005).
Festivals: Russia: “Russian Winter” (Moscow), Moscow (every year); “Mozart – 250 year Jubiley”, Moscow (January 2006); “Shostakovich - 100 year Jubiley”, Vladimir (September 2006); “Aliabiev Music Automn”, Tumen (September 2005), “Russian music on Baltic soil”, Kal, Vilnus (June 2008), France: Besanson Festival (2004); “Shostakovich – 100 year Jubiley” - UNESCO, Paris (September 2006); China: “35 Hong Kong Arts Festival”, Hong Kong (February 2007); Poland: “Moscow Season in Gdansk”, Gdansk (April 2008); UK: “Canterbury Festival”, Canterbury (October 2008); “Swansea Festival”, Swansea (October 2008); Spain: .“Festival de Cantabria”, Cantabria (May 2009); “Festival internacional de Musica y Danza ciudad de Ubeda” (May 2009).
MPO has made more than 300 records and CD’s, many of which have been awarded some of the most coveted prizes.