St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra

Orchestra

Biography

< Yuri Temirkanov, Profile >
Artistic Director and Chief Conductor
Acknowledged master of the conductor's art, Yuri Temirkanov has been the Artistic Director of the St Petersburg Philharmonic, as well as its Principal Conductor since 1988.

"Yuri Temirkanov’s conducting is like a magical immersion into a world that would have been lost to us, if not for the great conductor, one of the last giants of the last century" (Le Monde, 2012). Among the artist's engagements this year alone include conducting the Chicago and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestras, concerts with the orchestras of Santa Cecilia Academy, the London Philharmonic and Teatro La Fenice.

World-renowned orchestras have invited the musician to partner with them for more than three decades. During the years from 1979-1998 Temirkanov worked with the London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, first as Chief Guest Conductor, and since 1992 - as the Principal Conductor. Maestro also led the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (2000-2006), was the Chief Guest Conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra (1992-1997) and the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra (1998-2008).

But, according to Temirkanov, his home has always been and remains - St Petersburg, where the artist began his ascent to the Olympic heights of the conductors’ art. In 1967, as post-graduate of the Leningrad Conservatory (class I. Musin) in the status of the winner of the All-Union Conductors' Competition, he performed in the Grand Hall of the Philharmonic for the first time. A year later, the 29-year-old musician stood behind the podium of his own orchestra ? the Leningrad Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra (now the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra). Working together strengthened the reputation of both the conductor and the orchestra and they went on to perform at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and New York's Carnegie Hall.

Temirkanov's name is associated with the beginning of the revival of the Mariinsky (Kirov) Theater. During the years from 1976-1988, the musician was its Artistic Director and Principal Conductor. During this time, the repertoire included performances of such masterpieces as "Eugene Onegin" (even today, they are performed as directed by Temirkanov) and "The Queen of Spades" by Tchaikovsky, "War and Peace" by Prokofiev, "Peter I" by Petrov and "Dead Souls" by Shchedrin. The troupe began actively touring (USA, Japan, Europe) and symphonic concerts by the theater orchestra were again put into practice, including abroad.

"The most important thing in my orchestra (at least I hope so) - is that the musicians come to me to work not just for the money. They come to serve this cause," - maestro devoted these words to the Honored Ensemble of Russia. More than a quarter century has passed since the beginning of their creative collaboration. These were years, enriched by concerts in many countries of the world, and at the most famous venues. Among them, New York’s Carnegie Hall (where, in 2005, the orchestra was the first Russian orchestra to open the concert season), the Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Theatre des Champs Elysees in Paris and London's Barbican Hall, the Berlin Philharmonic, La Scala in Milan, Musikverein in Vienna and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw. The foreign press does not skimp on epithets. "This orchestra ? is the national treasure of Russia, and conductor, Yuri Temirkanov ? is one of the best in the world" (The Washington Post, 2014).

"That night in the [Roman] Auditorium it seemed some kind of magic occurred... Temirkanov’s talent and the virtuosity of the musicians transcended the notes recorded on note staff..." (Corriere de la sera, 2014). "The climax of the evening was the performance of Tchaikowsky’s Symphony - "Pathetique". It is hardly possible to surpass Maestro Temirkanov’s interpretation of this symphonic romantic masterpiece." (El Mundo, 2015). "He has once again demonstrated that none of the orchestras, performing Russian music can be compared with his musicians." (Opera World, 2015). "Hearing the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra performing a Russian repertoire is always a special pleasure, and the orchestra’s first night performance on the BBC Proms, conducted by Yuri Temirkanov, was above criticism. If the sign of a great interpretation is the ability to present us with a familiar work as if for the first time, both works - Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto and "Scheherazade" by Rimsky-Korsakov - were brilliant " (The Guardian, 2015). "In Dzintaru, Temirkanov delivered to each of the more than two million listeners each bar of the great and, seemingly long familiar to all, Tchaikowsky’s music [excerpts of music from the ballet "The Nutcracker "]" (LSM, 2016).

"Our every performance throughout the world - is our presentation of our Russian culture. Always." (Yuri Temirkanov).

During the 2015/2016 Season, the conductor and his orchestra carried out six concert tours, visiting Italy (three times), France (twice), Spain (twice), the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Romania, Latvia, Japan and China, participated in such festivals as Annecy Classic, MITO SettembreMusica, BBC Proms, Lucerne Festival and the George Enescu Festival.

Of course, regular performances are held in the musicians’ "home" - the Grand Hall of the St Petersburg Philharmonic. Here, this season the music of Brahms will be played under the baton of Maestro, as well as Bruckner, Ravel, Respighi, Bizet, Shchedrin, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Khachaturian.

"Ask me why I postponed everything and came to the Yuri Temirkanov Concert today, - is the same as asking a woman why she gives birth to a child. This is my need, an urgent need to listen to music in a great performance." (A. Dzhigarkhanyan). A musician's creativity is recognized not only by the public and critics (Italians, in particular, in the 2000’s, twice honored him with the prestigious Abbiati Award in the category "Best Conductor"). People's Artist of USSR, laureate of the State Prize and the President of Russia Prize, the holder of the Order "For Services to the Fatherland", Commander of the Order of Star of Italy, an honorary member of the Academy of Santa Cecilia, an Honorary Doctor of the St. Petersburg Conservatory, honorary citizen of St. Petersburg ? all this is not a complete list of Temirkanov’s regalia.

In 2015, the following were added to this list - the Teatro La Fenice Foundation Award "Life in Music" and the Japanese title of Knight of the Order of the Rising Sun. In November 2015, Yuri Temirkanov was appointed the first-ever Honorary Life Conductor of the orchestra and choir of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia (Rome).

< St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Profile >
Artistic Director and Chief Conductor
According to foreign critics, the history of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra - "part of the world elite and, no doubt, historically the most important of the Russian orchestras" - began with the decree of Alexander III dated 16 July 1882, which initiated the creation of the Court Choir. Transformed into the Court Orchestra at the beginning of the XX century, for the first time in Russia, the orchestra performed the symphonic poems "The Life of a Hero" and "Thus Spake Zarathustra" by Richard Strauss, Mahler's First Symphony and Bruckner's Ninth Symphony, Scriabin's "Poem of Ecstasy" and Stravinsky’s First Symphony. A.Nikish and R.Strauss conducted the orchestra as well as A.Glazunov, who dedicated the "Festival Overture" to the orchestra. In 1917, the Court Orchestra became the State Orchestra, and was headed by S.Koussevitzky.

In 1921, the orchestra, given the hall of the former Noble Assembly at its disposal, opened the country's first Philharmonic. The unprecedented in scale activities of the orchestra drew a new and sometimes far removed from classical music audience to its Grand Hall. Outstanding Russian musicians underwent a rigorous test of their conducting skills with the orchestra. Such legendary Western conductors as B.Walter, F.Weingartner, G.Abendroth, O.Fried, E.Kleiber, P.Monteux and O.Klemperer; soloists V.Horowitz and S.Prokofiev, performed with the orchestra. The orchestra mastered a vast contemporary repertoire. In 1918, it presented the premiere of Prokofiev’s "Classical Symphony", and in 1926 ? Shostakovich’s First Symphony.

In 1934, the orchestra - the first in the country - was awarded the title “Honored Collective of the Republic." 1938 ushered in a half-century of the "Age of Mravinsky" - years of hard work, which earned the orchestra a place among the most prominent orchestras of the world. In 1946, the orchestra embarked on its first foreign trip ? and gave the first overseas performance in the country’s symphonic performance history. This was followed by regular tours around the world, performing at the most prestigious European festivals. A unique and creative alliance formed between D.Shostakovich and E.Mravinsky, to whom the composer devoted the Eighth Symphony. The conductor and the orchestra performed five Shostakovich's symphonies for the first time.

In fact, a tradition of an original interpretation of famous scores was born. Music of the twentieth century as a whole assumed a significant role in the orchestra’s repertoire. Alternating as the second conductor of the orchestra were K.Sanderling, A.Jansons and M.Jansons; at the podium were L.Stokowsky, L.Maazel, Z.Mehta, K.Masur, E.Svetlanov, G.Rozhdestvensky and composers B.Britten, A.Copland, Z.Kodály, W.Lutoslawski, L.Berio, K.Penderecki, and soloists: V.Cliburn, G.Gould, A. Benedetti Michelangeli, I.Stern, S.Richter, E.Gilels, D.Oistrakh, E.Virsaladze, N.Petrov, G.Sokolov, V.Tretyakov, L.Kogan, N.Gutman, V.Krainev, V.Spivakov, and A.Lyubimov.

Since 1988, Yuri Temirkanov has headed the orchestra. Every year, the fruits of the collaboration of these musicians have received rave press reviews. "Who says that Russian orchestras are not the same anymore? The St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra with its Russian program ... gave one of the most mind-blowing concerts held in Scotland for many years, including at the Edinburgh Festival” (The Scotsman, 2014). "It was a very ordinary Thursday evening in Vienna's Musikverein. Or was it? .... How to describe the thrill caused by every chord of Shostakovich’s incredible Fifth Symphony, played by inspired guest performers? ” (Wiener Zeitung, 2015). "If the first evening of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra at the BBC Proms was unique, the second, also conducted by Yuri Temirkanov, became a celebration of characteristically Russian sound...” (The Guardian, 2015). "... We have heard it’s wonderful performance [Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony]... the Crescendo of the recurring theme of invasion, startling development, exquisite pianissimo in the first part, some little sarcastic tones in the Moderato, the integrity of the musical phrasing by the strings, the ultimate sharpness of the Adagio and the vivid resolution in the Finale literally chained us to our seats.” (Beckmesser, 2016). "This is a unique orchestra with a special, ‘Leningrad’ sound...” (Codalario, 2016).

Just during the 2016/2017 season, the orchestra’s busy touring activities included concerts at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and Concertgebouw, Carnegie Hall and Musikverein, the Kennedy Center and the San Carlo Theatre, the Berlin, Munich and Hamburg Philharmonics, the Dublin Concert Hall and the Royal Festival Hall in London, Brucknerhaus in Linz, the City Hall of Leeds and the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. The orchestra took part in such festivals as: “Stars at Lake Baikal” in Irkutsk, the VIII Mstislav Rostropovich International Festival in Moscow and the IX Mstislav Rostropovich International Festival in Baku, the summer festivals in Ravenna and Ljubljana, the music festivals “Schleswig-Holstein” and “Grafenegg”. During this season, the orchestra has planned tours in Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain and France.

The orchestra’s St Petersburg poster shows there is an evening dedicated to Rodion Shchedrin, commemorating the composer’s 85th anniversary and monographic concerts with the music of Shostakovich and Beethoven, Verdi’s Requiem for soloists, choir and orchestra and violin concertos by Sibelius and Tchaikovsky, Hindemith’s symphony “Mathis der Maler” and Respighi’s “Vetrate di chiesa” (within the framework of the joint cycle of the Grand Hall of the Philharmonia and the State Hermitage), rarely performed Prokofiev’s cantatas “To the 20th Anniversary of October” and “Seven of Them”, as well as Janáček’s “Glagolitic Mass”, Webern’s Six Pieces for Orchestra and “Conditionally Killed” by Shostakovich.

Behind the orchestral podium there will be such invited conductors as: Ch.Dutoit and M.Venzago (Switzerland), I.Metzmacher and M.Jurowski (Germany), A.Wit and J.Kaspszyk (Poland) and I.Marin (Austria), J.-C.Casadesus (France), V.Sinaisky, J.Nelson (USA), J.Hirokami (Japan) and J.Domarkas (Lithuania). Performing with the orchestra will be: N.Lugansky, V.Rudenko, M.Kultyshev, J.Rachlin, S.Khachatryan, S.Shoji, S.Dogadin, A.Rudin, A.Buzlov, A.Ramm, F.Meli, R.Vargas and many others.

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