the name of concert organizations in some countries. In the 19th century, philharmonic societies were established in a number of European and American cities, including St. Petersburg, Moscow, Berlin, London, and New York, primarily to promote symphonic music. Similar societies became common in the 20th century; in European socialist countries, such societies came under state control.
In the USSR the aim of state-run philharmonic societies is to present and popularize musical compositions and concerts, as well as other types of stage performances, such as dance performances and poetry readings. The first Soviet philharmonic societies were organized in Petrograd in 1921 and in Moscow in 1922. As of Jan. 1, 1976, there were 136 such societies in the USSR, organized at the republic, krai, oblast, and city levels in large cultural and industrial centers. By popularizing the best of Russian and foreign classics, as well as Soviet and folk compositions, including the songs, dances, and instrumental music of peoples of the USSR and other countries, philharmonic societies assist in the artistic development and growth of young performers and promote cultural exchange with foreign countries. Tours of soloists and companies in the USSR and abroad are arranged by Soiuzkont-sert (All-Union Concert Agency) and Goskontsert (State Concert Agency).
Philharmonic societies have permanent soloists and chamber ensembles, as well as large musical groups, such as choruses and symphony orchestras. Most philharmonic society performances are given in permanent concert halls; some are given in various clubs. Frequently the societies organize tours to industrial settlements and rural areas.
Philharmonic societies play an important role in the development of Soviet musical culture, especially in that of professional music at the Union republic level.