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St Davids Hall, UK, Cardiff (25/Jun/2019) Artist Biography
The Philharmonia Orchestra is a British orchestra based in London. It was founded in 1945 by Walter Legge, a classical music record producer for EMI. Since 1995, the orchestra has been based in the Royal Festival Hall.
The Philharmonia also has residencies at De Montfort Hall, Leicester; the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury; the Corn Exchange, Bedford; and The Anvil, Basingstoke. Esa-Pekka Salonen has been the orchestra's principal conductor and artistic advisor since 2008. Helen Sprott is the orchestra's current managing director,
The Philharmonia Orchestra performs more than 160 concerts a year and tours widely, and also records music for films and computer games. Since its inception in 1945, the Philharmonia has commissioned more than 100 compositions from composers that include Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Mark-Anthony Turnage and James MacMillan.The orchestra was founded in 1945 by Walter Legge.
As Legge was a recording producer for EMI, it was believed that the orchestra was primarily formed for recording purposes, but that was not Legge's intention. He had been Sir Thomas Beecham's assistant at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, before World War II, and, assuming that he and Beecham would be in charge there again after the war, Legge planned to establish a first-class orchestra for opera, concerts and recordings. After the war, opera resumed at Covent Garden under a different management, but Legge went ahead with his plans for a new orchestra. His contacts in the musical world during the war enabled him to secure the services of a large number of talented young musicians still serving in the armed forces in 1945. At the Philharmonia's first concert on 25 October 1945, more than sixty per cent of the players were still officially in the services. Beecham conducted the concert (for the fee of one cigar), but as he refused to be Legge's employee and Legge refused to cede control of the orchestra, Beecham instead went on to found the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
In its early years, with financial support of the Last Maharaja of Mysore, Jayachamaraja Wodeyar Bahadur (1919-1974), the orchestra engaged many prominent conductors, including Arturo Toscanini, Richard Strauss and Wilhelm Furtwängler. Herbert von Karajan was closely associated with the Philharmonia in its early years, although he never held an official title with the orchestra. At first, Legge was against appointing an official principal conductor, feeling that no one conductor should have more importance to the orchestra than Legge himself.
But Karajan was principal conductor in all but name. He built the orchestra into one of the finest in the world and made numerous recordings, including all the Beethoven symphonies.
Otto Klemperer, the first principal conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra
In 1954, Karajan was elected music director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and subsequently curtailed his work with the Philharmonia. Needing to find a new conductor for the orchestra, Legge turned to Otto Klemperer, whose career was flagging at the time. Klemperer's name became closely linked with the orchestra during an "Indian summer" of celebrated recordings. In 1959, Klemperer was named music director for life.
On 10 March 1964, Legge announced that he was going to disband the Philharmonia Orchestra. At a recording session with Klemperer, a meeting was convened where those present unanimously agreed that they would not allow the orchestra to be disbanded. Klemperer gave his immediate support. On 17 March 1964, the members of the orchestra elected their own governing body and adopted the name New Philharmonia Orchestra. The inaugural concert of the New Philharmonia under its own auspices took place on 27 October 1964. It was a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, conducted by Klemperer, who was now honorary president of the orchestra. From 1966 until 1972, the chairman of the orchestra was the principal flautist, Gareth Morris.
The orchestra gave many more live performances after it became self-governing than it had under Legge's management. It reacquired the rights to the name "Philharmonia Orchestra" in 1977, and has been known by that name ever since.Wide ThumbClearartFanartBanner User Comments