Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

Founded 1936

Israel Philharmonic Orchestra



The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is the foremost orchestra in Israel and one of the leading orchestras of the world with a track record of attracting such renowned conductors asArturo Toscanini, Zubin Mehta, Leonard Bernstein , Kurt Masur andGianandrea Noseda.

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra was originally known as the Palestine Orchestra and was founded in 1936 by Jewish musicians who had been members of many major European orchestras. Having been dismissed from their posts due to increasingly harsh measures imposed on Jewish citizens across Europe, they emigrated to Tel-Aviv where the Polish-Jewish violinist Bronislaw Huberman founded the orchestra. Huberman invited Arturo Toscanini to conduct the orchestra’s inaugural concert which took place on 26 December 1936. Toscanini declared “I am doing this for humanity”. Some of the orchestra’s earliest tours took place in Egypt in the early 1940s conducted by Toscanini and with Huberman as violin soloist, as well as frequent tours in the Western Desert for audiences of Allied Forces.

During the orchestra’s second decade in existence, the State of Israel was born, and the orchestra changed its name to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. At the ceremony of the Declaration of Independence on 14 May 1948 the orchestra performed at the Tel-Aviv Museum. A new generation of Jewish musicians emerged, who strongly identified with the new State of Israel, bringing a wave of excellence to the musical forum that was felt not just in Israel but in the music world as a whole. Such renowned conductors as Serge Koussevitzky, violinistsJascha Heifetz and Yehudi Menuhin and pianists Arthur Rubinstein and Claudio Arrau became strongly associated with the orchestra during this significant decade. The orchestra’s first USA tour conducted by Koussevitzky, Bernstein and Izler Solomon brought the IPO to further prominence. The following decade saw a further influx of the principal musical figures of the time, from violinists Pinchas Zuckerman andItzhak Perlman to pianistDaniel Barenboim and conductor Zubin Mehta. Also significant was the falling of the Iron Curtain, which saw the likes of the cellistMstislav Rostropovich and pianist David Oistrakh among the IPO’s soloists.

Early on in his career, Zubin Mehta became closely associated with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, conducting the orchestra on its European tour in 1968. The Israel Philharmonic appointed Mehta as its Music Advisor in 1969 followed by granting him the position of Music Director in 1977. Thereafter, he was named its Music Director for Life, in 1981. Leonard Bernstein was also closely associated with the orchestra for 40 years, leading to the IPO granting him the title of Conductor Laureate in 1988, a title he retained until his death in 1990. 

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra tours the world and performs in the foremost concert halls, as well as a subscription series and special youth concerts and the Arts for the People series that takes place throughout Israel. Zubin Mehta continues to bring excellence to the orchestra as Music Director. Gianandrea Noseda has been the orchestra’s Chief Guest Conductor since the 2011-2012 season.