In 1992 a group of young musicians, students at academies of performing arts who were playing in the Mahler Youth Orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado, decided to found a chamber orchestra. Thus arose an orchestra titled the "Giovanni virtuosi da camera". In 1993 conductor Jirí Belohlávek was enlisted for collaboration and took over the artistic leadership of the ensemble, now renamed the New Czech Chamber Orchestra. A year later the orchestra won an award at the Youth Forum in Karlovy Vary. The spring of 1994 saw the birth of an idea to create a new show-case orchestra in Prague in which musicians of the younger generation would join forces. The leading role in this effort was again taken by Jirí Belohlávek, and after a half year of conceptual deliberations, intensive organisational preparations, and then auditions the new ensemble commenced its regular work in August 1994, now under its present title, the Prague Philharmonia (in Czech Prazska komorni filharmonie, i.e. Prague Chamber Philharmonia). Jirí Belohlávek has been successful in forging the young musicians into an ensemble with unusually coherent sections, where technical perfection and the spontaneous musicality of individual players is complemented by a sense for ensemble playing and acoustical balance, and strengthened by enormous vitality and, at the same time, an indispensable dose of artistic humility and responsibility.
The Prague Philharmonia is today, a 48-member orchestra, which maintains the formation of the classical Viennese orchestra, complementing and altering the layout as appropriate. As regards its repertoire, the orchestra targets the mature works of the classical and romantic periods, music of the 20th century, including neglected authors, as well as compositions which are rarely performed on the stage,and the newest output of contemporary composers.
Professor Jiří Bělohlávek, the founder and Chief Conductor of the orchestra since its inauguration, passed on his post to the Swiss conductor Kaspar Zehnder from the 2005-2006 season onwards. The orchestra will continue its collaboration with Permanent Conductor Jakub Hrůša. Collaboration with renowned foreign conductors such as Christopher Hogwood, Vjekoslav Šutej, Marco Zambelli, David Štern, and Czech conductors Martin Turnovský, Libor Pešek, Tomáš Hanus, and Zbyněk Müller is also a prominent feature of Prague Philharmonia.
Prague Philharmonia has regularly appeared on festival stages, both at home in the Czech Republic, and abroad: the Prague Spring Festival, Janaček May, Concentus Moraviae, Smetana's Litomyšl, the BBC Proms-London, the Festival Mitte Europa, the Radiofestival Montpellier, the La Roque d'Antheron Festival, Schleswig-Holstein, Harrogate, L'Epau Festival Le Mans, and Mostly Mozart at the Barbican in London. The orchestra has performed at significant venues and halls, including the Konzerthaus in Berlin, the Auditorio - National in Madrid, the Suntory Hall and Opera-City Hall in Tokyo, the Musikverein in Vienna, the Auditorium in Dijon, or the Cité de la Musique in Paris.
Renowned Czech and foreign artists have performed with Prague Philharmonia. The pianists featured include Ivan Moravec, Martha Argerich, Yefim Bronfman, András Schiff, Elizabeth Leonskaja, Duo Labeque, Maria-João Pires, Fazil Say; the violin players Sarah Chang, Shlomo Mintz, Isabelle Faust, Pavel Šporcl, Ivan Ženatý; and the violoncellists Mischa Maisky, Raphael Wallfish, David Geringas, and Jiří Bárta. Other soloists include the harpists Jana Boušková and Kateřina Englichová, the clarinettists harom Kam and Ludmila Peterková, and Radek Baborák on the French horn, who is a former member of the orchestra. The orchestra regularly accompanies the singers Magdalena Kožená, Eva Urbanová, Dagmar Pecková, as well as the world stars of the opera stage, José Cura, Ramon Vargas, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Natalie Dessay. In April 2005, the Prague Philharmonia accompanied the world-renowned Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti in Prague's Sazka Arena. In spring of 2006, concerts with the Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón in the Gasteig in Munich, and Jennifer Larmore in the Smetana Hall of Prague's Municipal House, received an enthusiastic acclaim.
Since its foundation, the orchestra has recorded over 60 titles for major record labels: Deutsche Grammophon, Harmonia Mundi, Decca, EMI, Naxos, and Supraphon.
Prague Philharmonia performances are supported financially by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic; the City of Prague; the Prague 1 Municipal Authorities and Ringier,a.s.