75th anniversary, marking three-quarters of a century of world-class concerts, definitive recordings, technological innovation, community-led outreach and artistic adventure. Philharmonia at 75 opens in January 2020 with a pair of concerts conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen focusing on the orchestra’s founding year and featuring the world premiere of a new commission from Mark Anthony Turnage, Towards Alba, a Horn concerto commissioned by the Philharmonia for this concert at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, where it is Resident Orchestra.
The Philharmonia is a world-class symphony orchestra for the 21st century. Founded in 1945, in part as a recording orchestra for the nascent home audio market, today the Philharmonia uses the latest digital technology to reach new audiences for symphonic music. VR experiences featuring music by Sibelius, Mahler and Beethoven, placing the viewer at the heart of the orchestra, have been presented at Southbank Centre and internationally. The Orchestra is led by Finnish conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen. Fellow Finn Santtu-Matias Rouvali takes over from Salonen as Principal Conductor in the 2021/22 season.
On 16 January 2020, Salonen conducts a French Horn-themed programme inspired by famous French Horn players connected with the Philharmonia, including Dennis Brain, Richard Watkins (soloist in the world premiere of Towards Alba) and Salonen himself. 

On Sunday 19 January 2020, the Philharmonia performs a concert of music composed in 1945, the year the Orchestra was founded. Salonen conducts three very different masterworks composed for a world emerging from the destruction of the Second World War: Vaughan Williams Symphony No. 6, Richard Strauss’s Oboe Concerto (with Principal Oboe Tom Blomfield the soloist) and Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements. 

In addition to the initial concerts, and to celebrate three-quarters of a century of remarkable recordings, the orchestra is partnering with Warner Classics, which owns much of the Orchestra’s back catalogue, to release a box set of recordings from the years the Philharmonia was run by its founder, Walter Legge (1945-64). 

Philharmonia – Birth of a Legend features recordings with conductors that made the early Philharmonia one of the greatest orchestras in the world: Herbert von Karajan, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Guido Cantelli, Arturo Toscanini, Otto Klemperer and Carlo Maria Giulini. 

Classic recordings sit alongside rarely-heard gems. A link to the modern-day Philharmonia is made with a bonus recording licenced from the BBC, of Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht at Royal Festival Hall in September 2018. 

Philharmonia – Birth of a Legend was coordinated by Jon Tolansky. The box set will be released internationally on 24 January 2020. 

Concert listings, full 2019/20 London Season: https://www.philharmonia.co.uk/london1920
Esa-Pekka Salonen: http://www.esapekkasalonen.com/
Southbank Centre: https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/festivals-series/classical-
season/philharmonia-orchestra
Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX. Times: 7.30pm. Admission: £12 – £58

Photos: Camilla Greenwell