Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra

Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra

Radio Symphony Orchestra

• Founded 1930


Moscow's Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra has had many names since its founding in 1930. Whatever its name, the orchestra has remained at the center of Russian musical life. Founded as the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, the group was one of several orchestras at the time associated with national radio networks; it was the house orchestra for the Soviet All-Union Radio Network. The orchestra at various times has used these names: the USSR State Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra, the USSR State Radio Symphony Orchestra, or the USSR All-Union National Radio and Central Television Symphony Orchestra. As such, the orchestra played not only Russian music but also that of composers from other Soviet republics, including Georgia's Otar Taktakishvili and Lithuania's Vytautas Barkauskas, and it has premiered contemporary works by composers from Shostakovich to Sofia Gubaidulina. Tchaikovsky, however, has remained at the center of the orchestra's repertory, and in 1993, with the structure of radio broadcasting in Russia being reorganized after the fall of the Soviet Union, the group was given the name Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra; the name Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow has also been used. From the start, the orchestra has attracted ambitious and prestigious conductors. The first one, Alexander Orlov, set the goals of an international standard and repertory. He was succeeded in 1937 by Nikolai Golovanov, who shepherded the orchestra through the difficult war years but was banished during Stalin's anti-Semitic purges (he was not Jewish, but he attempted to use Jewish singers at the Bolshoi Opera, where he was also a conductor). Alexander Gauk followed from 1953 to 1961, and his successor was Gennady Rozhdestvensky, one of the most acclaimed Russian conductors in history. In 1974, Rozhdestvensky was succeeded by Vladimir Fedoseyev, who remains the orchestra's music director (as of early 2019) in one of the longest periods of tenure of any conductor in the world. The orchestra's engagement with Tchaikovsky has been deep; during one season, five different conductors were brought in to provide different interpretation of the composer's Symphony No. 3 in D major, Op. 29 ("Polish"). The group's repertoire, however, is international, and it was the first Russian orchestra with a Russian conductor to record a complete cycle of Beethoven's symphonies. The Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra also recorded a complete set of Brahms symphonies for Warner Classics in 2007. The orchestra has recorded mostly for the Relief label, but issued an album of works by Rimsky-Korsakov and Stravinsky on the venerable Russian label Melodiya in 2018.