The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra is of recent vintage compared to its European peers, having taken shape from a merger of older performing organizations. One of those organizations was the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, which has continued to exist as an independent entity; the two groups are united under a single organizational umbrella, the Stichting Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest, and have a unique symbiotic relationship. Together, the two groups comprise an ensemble of 130 musicians. The Netherlands Philharmonic itself was formed in 1985, from a merger of the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the Utrecht Symphony Orchestra, and (partially) the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra. A major task of the combined Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestra is to accompany the performances of the Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam. They also give frequent concerts, separately and together, around the Netherlands (often at the Concertgebouw Hall and at the Muziekcentrum Vredenburg in Utrecht) and beyond. The Philharmonic's founding conductor was Hartmut Haenchen, who led the group from 1985 to 2002. For their entire joint existence, the Netherlands Philharmonic and the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra have shared a music director. Haenchen was succeeded by the Russian-American Yakov Kreizberg, who worked until his death in 2011. He was followed by Germany's Marc Albrecht. The Netherlands Philharmonic is known for an audience-friendly approach, giving concerts in accessible venues in Amsterdam's suburbs and mounting frequent educational programs where audiences can meet with orchestra musicians. The orchestra has a large discography that includes a 2002 recording of Richard Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra on the Dutch budget-label Brilliant. They have also recorded for PentaTone, Tacet, Challenge Classics, Denon, and Onyx. They backed mezzo soprano Alice Coote on a recording of Mahler's orchestral song cycles in 2017. The orchestra issued a reading of Strauss' Ein Heldenleben under Albrecht on PentaTone in 2018. The recording was made in the NedPhO-Koepel, a converted church that serves as the orchestra's rehearsal venue.