The Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra is a Polish orchestra based in Warsaw and founded in 1901. It is one of Poland's oldest musical organizations. The orchestra was established by the initiative of an assembly of Polish aristocrats and financiers, as well as musicians. Between 1901 and the outbreak of World War II in 1939, several virtuoso - and conductor - composers regularly performed their works with the orchestra, includingEdvard Grieg, Arthur Honegger, Ruggero Leoncavallo, Sergie Prokofiev, Sergei Rachmaninov, Maurice Ravel, Camille Saint-Saens, Richard Strauss and Igor Stravinsky. Among the other legendary artists who played with the orchestra were pianists Ignacy Jan Paderewski and Arthur Rubinstein, violinists Jascha Heifetzand and Pablo de Sarasate and cellist Pablo Casals. The orchestra has been hosting the Chopin International Piano Competition since the contest began in 1927, and also appeared at the Wieniawski International Violin Competition and Universal Festival of Polish Art.
The Philharmonic experienced a catastrophe during the second World War, during which it lost half of its members, as well as its prestigious venue, which had been architecturally inspired by the Paris Opera, to the war. In 1947, the Warsaw Philharmonic resumed its regular season, but had to wait until 1955 for its home to be finally rebuilt. When that was finalized, the orchestra was proclaimed the National Orchestra of Poland.
The conductor Witold Rowicki helped modernize the orchestra and ensured that Polish music both old and recent was cultivated, as represented by the works of Frédéric Chopin, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki and Witold Lutoslawski. During this time the orchestra also refined their mastery of the world repertoire. In their home country, the orchestra appears at the Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music besides accompanying the final rounds of the Chopin International Piano Competitions. The symphony orchestra of the Warsaw Philharmonic has to its credit nearly 140 tours on five continents and has appeared in almost every major concert hall where it has been warmly received by audiences and praised by music critics for its excellent and dynamic performances. The orchestra has also performed at many prestigious international festivals in Vienna, Berlin, Prague, Bergen, Lucerne, Montreux, Moscow, Brussels, Florence, Bordeaux and Athens as well as at the “La Folle Journee” festivals in Nantes, Bilbao, Lisbon and Tokyo.
The Philharmonic has recorded music for numerous anime series. Significant shows include ‘The Count of Monte Cristo,’ ‘Cowboy Bebop,’ ‘Soukyuu no Fafner,’ ‘Giant Robo: The Animation,’ ‘Ah! My Goddess: The Movie,’ ‘Princess Nine,’ ‘Hellsing Ultimate,’ ‘Genesis of Aquarion’ and ‘Full metal Alchemist: Brotherhood’. The orchestra also recorded for Namco’s ‘Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War,’ and ‘Phantasy Star Universe’ with the Hollywood Session Orchestra. The orchestra was involved in a major performance of music for the film ‘Avalon’, composed by Kenji Kawai. Most recently they’ve recorded music for the video game ‘Final Fantasy XIII.’
The list of conductors and soloists who have appeared with the National Philharmonic is impressive, and includes artists from all over the world. Alongside the most distinguished Polish artists it includes Herman Abendroth, Martha Argerich,Vladimir Aszkenazy, Kathleen Battle, Joshua Bell, Teresa Breganza, Gary Bertini, Herbert Blomstedt, Ian Bostridge, Alfred Brendel, Giuliano Carmignola, Aram Chaczaturian, Charles Dutoit, Philippe Entremont, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, Helene Grimaud, Philippe Herreweghe, Robert Holl, Marek Janowski, Sumi Jo, Nigel Kennedy, Evgeny Kissin, Magdalena Kozena, Gidon Kremer, Lang Lang, Felicity Lott, Radu Lupu, Lorin Maazel, Mischa Maisky, Igor Markevich, Kurt Mazur, Yehudi Menuhin, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Midori, Marc Minkowski, Shlomo Mintz, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Kent Nagano, David and Igor Oistrahk, Murray Periaha, Maurizio Pollini, Simon Rattle, Slavomir Richter, Helmuth Rilling, Mstislav Rostropovich, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Arthur Rubinstein, Jordi Savall, Andras Schiff, Isaac Stern, Leopold Stokowski, Igor Stravinsky, Henryk Szeryng and Arcadi Volodos.
Image courtesy of Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra