|Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
The Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, regarded as one of the world's finest symphonic ensembles, was founded in 1951 by Samuel Samosud, a distinguished conductor of the Bolshoi Opera. Originally part of the All-Union Radio Committee, the orchestra was established primarily for the broadcasting of operatic music and was given its current title in 1953. Under the direction of its founder, the Moscow Philharmonic performed the works of many new Russian composers and also gave concert performances of operas seldom heard by Russian audiences.
In 1958 Kiril Kondrashin, beginning a long-lasting relationship with the orchestra, conducted the ensemble during the first International Tchaikovsky Competition and in 1960 was named Music Director, a post he held until 1975. Under Kondrashin's direction, the Moscow Philharmonic toured extensively, participating in numerous festivals of modern music throughout the Soviet Union and in many of the world's important music centers. In 1963 the orchestra toured Hungary, Yugoslavia, England and France and in 1965 made a highly successful seven-week tour of the United States. The orchestra returned to the United States in 1970, 1979, 1990, 1992 and 1994 (twice, including a tour with Van Cliburn for his celebrated return appearances across the country), 1995, 1999 and 2001.
In 1976 Dmitri Kitaenko was named Music Director of the Moscow Philharmonic. He infused the orchestra's musicians with a new creative force, and, under his direction, they gave the first performances in the Soviet Union of Mahler's Symphony No. 8, Messiaen's "Turangalila Symphonie," Puccini's "Messa di Gloria" and many other works. Maestro Kitaenko resigned his post in 1990. In 1991 Vassily Sinaisky was named as his successor, serving through the 1995-96 season. In September 1996 the orchestra appointed Mark Ermler as its Music Director and Chief Conductor. He was succeeded in early 1998 by the eminent Russian conductor Yuri Simonov, who led the orchestra on an 18-city tour of the United States in 1999 and a 15-city tour of the United States in 2001.
Among the many distinguished guest conductors of the Moscow Philharmonic have been such musicians as Igor Stravinsky, Zubin Mehta, Igor Markevich, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Zanderling and Krzysztof Penderecki.
From 1991, under Maestro Sinaisky's direction, the Moscow Philharmonic toured widely in Europe (Austria, Germany, Britain, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Italy), Asia (Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong), and Latin America (Brazil, Argentina). During the 1996-97 season the orchestra and Maestro Ermler gave concerts on tour in Great Britain and Spain. Many renowned soloists, such as Isaac Stern, Nikolai Petrov, Maxim Vengerov, Liana Issakadze, Cyprien Katsaris and Yefim Bronfman, have performed with the orchestra both in Moscow and on tour.
The ensemble's repertoire encompasses the complete works of Russian classical composers and of the contemporary Russian School, as well as the music of Mahler, the Second Viennese School, and such American composers as Copland, Bernstein and Gershwin. In addition, the orchestra performs numerous works of the Western avant-garde.
The Moscow Philharmonic has made more than 100 recordings, many of which have been honored with music's most coveted prizes. It has also participated regularly in the most prestigious music festivals of Europe and has performed in more than 5,000 concerts.
The Russian conductor Yuri Simonov has achieved international success both in the opera house and the concert hall. For many years Chief Conductor at the Bolshoi Opera, he made his debut in the West at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in 1982 and has since been invited to appear with the foremost orchestras and opera companies in Europe and North America. From 1994 to 2002 he was Music Director of the Belgian National Orchestra in Brussels. He was named Music Director of the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra at the start of the 1998-99 season.
Born into a family of opera singers in Saratov, Russia, Mr. Simonov made an early conducting debut at age 12, leading a school orchestra performance of Mozart's Symphony No. 40. Studies at the Leningrad (St. Petersburg) Conservatory with Prof. Rabinovich followed. He conducted his first opera there in 1963, Dargomyzhsky's "The Mermaid." From 1967-69 he served as assistant to Evgeny Mravinsky at the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra.
In 1968, Mr. Simonov became the first Russian to win the Santa Cecilia Conducting Competition in Rome. The following year he was invited by the Bolshoi Opera to make his debut with "Aida," which led almost immediately to his a appointment as Chief Conductor. The youngest conductor to hold that post in the company's history, he would also become the longest serving, remaining at the Bolshoi until 1985. His tenure was highlighted by his re-introduction of Wagner's works to the repertoire after a 45-year absence, and by several international tours, to Paris, Vienna, New York, Milan, Washington, D.C. and Japan. In 1979 Mr. Simonov founded the Bolshoi Theater Chamber Orchestra, comprised of 20 young string players from the Bolshoi Orchestra, and toured with them as Music Director to numerous cities in the Soviet Union and abroad. In 1985 he founded the Maly Symphony Orchestra in Moscow, leading it on tours to Poland, Hungary, Germany and Italy.
In addition to his Covent Garden debut with "Eugene Onegin," 1982 also witnessed Mr. Simonov's British orchestral debut with the London Symphony Orchestra. He has gone on to conduct the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic and the London Philharmonic, not only in London but also on tour and in the recording studio. Mr. Simonov made his American debut in 1989, conducting both the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The following year he made his American operatic debut leading Verdi's "Don Carlos" with Placido Domingo at the Los Angeles Opera. He also conducted Mussorgsky's "Khovanshchina" at the San Francisco Opera with Nicolai Ghiaurov.
His other guest conducting engagements have included concerts with the NHK Symphony in Japan, the Stuttgart Philharmonic, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, the Deutsche Oper Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Teatro Communale in Bologna, the RAI orchestras of Rome, Milan and Turin; the TVE Orchestra in Madrid, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the City of Birmingham Symphony, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Northern Sinfonia and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. Among the opera houses where he has appeared are those of Florence (for "Salome"), Genoa ("Cosí fan tutte"), Hamburg ("Don Carlos"), Dallas ("Eugene Onegin"), Paris ("Pique Dame") and Marseilles ("La Forza del Destino"). Mr. Simonov has also had a close association with the Budapest Opera, conducting nearly all of the Wagner's major works there. During the 1998-99 season in Budapest, he completed a new production of "Der Ring des Nibelungen" with "Götterdämmerung" and also performed the entire cycle. In June 2003 he completed a new production of "Pique Dame" in Moscow. In 2003-04 he made his debuts with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and the Warsaw National Phiharmonic and toured Japan with the Moscow Philharmonic.
Mr. Simonov has taken part in many of the world's major music festivals: Prague Spring and Autumn, Flanders, Athens, Zagreb, Edinburgh, Salisbury, Budapest Spring and Tanglewood. He has also toured Europe with the Leningrad Philharmonic, the European Youth Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, the Bergen Philharmonic, the Bulgarian Radio Orchestra, the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie and the Buenos Aires Philharmonic. With the Belgian National Orchestra, he toured the United Kingdom, Austria, Switzerland, Germany and France in 1997, and was invited to Spain and Germany during the 1998-99 season. With the Moscow Philharmonic he led an 18-city American tour in 1999 and a 15-city American tour in 2001, as well as tours in Japan, Germany, United Kingdom and other Europe countries.
From 1978-1991 Mr. Simonov served as professor of conducting at the Moscow Conservatory, occupying the chair previously held by Kiril Kondrashin. He has been a jury member at the conducting competitions in Florence, Tokyo and Budapest.
Mr. Simonov has recorded with the Bolshoi company for Melodiya; with the Berlin Philharmonic for EMI; with the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic and the Philharmonia for Collins Classics; and with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for Tring International.