One of the world’s oldest orchestras and the very first one to be founded in Russia, the legendary Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra celebrates its 130th jubilee.
The orchestra was founded on July 16, 1882, when Emperor Alexander III decreed the establishment of a ‘musical choir’. The history of the orchestra, however, is linked to the names of two outstanding Russian conductors: Yevgeny Mravinsky, who ran the company from 1930 until 1980s, and his successor Yuri Temirkanov, who has been leading the orchestra for nearly 35 years. Music critic Leonid Gakkel shared his impressions of the two maestros in an interview with the VoR.
"Mravinsky was Saint Petersburg personified! He was a symbol of Petersburg, a true aristocrat, a patrician. Temirkanov is an artist, an open-hearted and very temperamental person, who shares his energy with the orchestra and the audience. Temirkanov should be credited for having managed to preserve the atmosphere which the orchestra had always been known for."
Many conductors, among them Leopold Stokovsky, Lorin Maazel, Bruno Walter and Otto Klemperer, who worked with the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic felt this special atmosphere.
Since 1934 the orchestra has remained the only one of its kind to have the ‘honored collective of the Russian Federation’ title. Two greatest composers of the 20th century, Dmitry Shostakovich and Sergei Prokofiev, started their careers at the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic. Since the orchestra first performed Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 1 in 1926, it remained the composer’s favorite team of musicians. Mravinsky conducted all symphonies by Shostakovich, and no other orchestra has surpassed that performance since then. Leonid Gakkel continues.