New York Philharmonic

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New York Philharmonic,

dating from 1842, the oldest symphony orchestra in the United States. The orchestra as it now exists is the result of the merger of the Philharmonic Society of New York with the National Symphony Orchestra (1921), the City Symphony (1923), and finally the Symphony Society of New York (1928). Since the 1928 merger, the orchestra officially has been called the Philharmonic-Symphony Society of New York, Inc., although it is commonly referred to as simply the New York Philharmonic.

The original Philharmonic Society was established in 1842 and gave its first concert that year. Ureli Corelli Hill, its first president, was also its first conductor (1842–47) and a violinist. The first permanent conductor, Carl Bergmann, was appointed in 1865 and remained until 1876. Other important conductors have included Leopold DamroschDamrosch, Leopold,
1832–85, German conductor. After taking a degree in medicine, he became (1857) first violinist in the ducal orchestra at Weimar, where he was a friend of Liszt and Wagner.
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 (1876–77), Theodore Thomas (1877–78; 1879–91), Anton Seidl (1891–98), Walter DamroschDamrosch, Walter Johannes,
1862–1950, German-American conductor and composer; son of Leopold Damrosch. At his father's death in 1885, he finished the season as conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, New York City, and conducted there with Anton Seidl until 1891.
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 (1902–3), Gustav MahlerMahler, Gustav
, 1860–1911, composer and conductor, born in Austrian Bohemia of Jewish parentage. Mahler studied at the Univ. of Vienna and the Vienna Conservatory.
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 (1909–11), and Josef Stransky (1911–23). The 1921 merger with the National Symphony Orchestra brought to the Philharmonic its conductor, J. W. MengelbergMengelberg, Josef Willem
, 1871–1951, Dutch conductor. Conductor of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra (1895–1945), he was noted for interpretations of Mahler and Richard Strauss, whose Ein Heldenleben is dedicated to him.
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, who remained with the orchestra until 1929. After engagements as guest conductor, Wilhelm FurtwänglerFurtwängler, Wilhelm
, 1886–1954, German conductor, b. Berlin; son of Adolf Furtwängler. One of the greatest orchestral conductors of the 20th cent., he studied music in Munich, where he grew up.
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 was appointed (1925) permanent conductor. Arturo ToscaniniToscanini, Arturo
, 1867–1957, Italian conductor, internationally recognized as one of the world's great conductors. He studied cello at the Parma Conservatory, from which he graduated in 1885.
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 was his successor (1928–36).

The Symphony Society of New York—the other component of the Philharmonic's 1928 merger—was founded by Leopold Damrosch in 1878 and conducted by him until 1885. His son Walter, who succeeded him, pioneered the performance of new works and brought symphonic music to many American communities for the first time. In 1920 this orchestra toured Europe, the first American group to do so.

After the 1928 merger Toscanini conducted until he was succeeded by John BarbirolliBarbirolli, Sir John
, 1899–1970, English conductor and cellist, b. London. After being cellist (1920–24) in the International String Quartet, he organized the Barbirolli String Orchestra.
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 (1937–43), Artur Rodzinsky (1943–47), Bruno WalterWalter, Bruno,
1876–1962, German-American conductor, b. Berlin as Bruno Walter Schlesinger. Walter studied at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin. After he had conducted in several German cities, Gustav Mahler appointed him (1901) assistant conductor of the Vienna State
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 (1947–49), Leopold StokowskiStokowski, Leopold
, 1882–1977, American conductor, b. London. Stokowski studied in England and at the Paris Conservatory. He was organist and choirmaster at St. Bartholomew's Church, New York City (1905–8), and was conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony
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 (1949–50), and Dmitri MitropoulosMitropoulos, Dimitri
, 1896–1960, Greek-American conductor. A piano pupil of Busoni, in 1930 he substituted for an indisposed piano soloist and simultaneously conducted the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
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 (1949–58). Leonard BernsteinBernstein, Leonard
, 1918–90, American composer, conductor, and pianist, b. Lawrence, Mass., grad. Harvard, 1939, and Curtis Institute of Music, 1941. A highly versatile musician, he was the composer of symphonic works (the Jeremiah Symphony, 1944;
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 became musical director in 1958, retiring in 1969. He was succeeded by Pierre BoulezBoulez, Pierre
, 1925–2016, French conductor and composer of modernist classical music. He studied at the Paris Conservatory with Olivier Messiaen (1944–45) and studied twelve-tone technique with René Leibowitz (1946).
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 in 1971, who was, in turn, succeeded by Zubin MehtaMehta, Zubin
, 1936–, Indian conductor. Son of the violinist Mehli Mehta, founder and conductor of the Bombay Symphony Orchestra, Mehta studied medicine for two years before continuing the family's musical tradition.
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 (1978–91), Kurt MasurMasur, Kurt
, 1927–2015, German conductor, b. Brieg, Germany (now Brzeg, Poland). Masur was noted for his authoritative performances of the German composers whose works form the core of the traditional symphonic repertoire and of modern Eastern European and Russian
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 (1991–2002), Lorin MaazelMaazel, Lorin Varencove,
1930–2014, American conductor, b. Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. A musical prodigy, he spent his childhood in Los Angeles, where he made his conducting debut at nine and his violin debut at fifteen.
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 (2002–9), and Alan Gilbert (2009–).

The New York Philharmonic plays summer concerts of a more popular nature in New York City's parks. It has made many recordings and toured in many parts of the world. In 1962 the orchestra moved into Philharmonic Hall, now David Geffen Hall, at Lincoln Center for the Performing ArtsLincoln Center for the Performing Arts,
in central Manhattan, New York City, between 62d and 66th streets W of Broadway. Lincoln Center is both a complex of buildings and the arts organizations that reside there.
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, and it now plays some 200 concerts each year.

Bibliography

See H. Shanet, Philharmonia: A History of New York's Orchestra (1974).

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