Maharajah of Mysore

1949

The Maharajah of Mysore funds Karajan

1949 : The Maharajah of Mysore funds Karajan

The funds needed to support Legge’s ambition to lure Herbert von Karajan away from the Vienna Philharmonic arrive from an unusual source. Through a connection with Russian pianist/composer, Nicolas Medtner, a young Indian Prince, the Maharajah of Mysore, donates generously. A delighted Legge makes the Maharajah the President of the Orchestra.

Dennis Brain

1957

Dennis Brain dies

1957 : Dennis Brain dies

Tragedy: making the long drive back from a concert at the Edinburgh International Festival, Dennis Brain’s car leaves the road and hits a tree. The principal horn and founder member dies instantly, aged just 36.

Otto Klemperer

1959

Klemperer made Conductor-for-Life

1959 : Klemperer made Conductor-for-Life

Lucerne Festival: Legge welcomes Otto Klemperer back to the Orchestra following a smoking accident and makes him Conductor-for-Life of the Philharmonia.

Otto Klemperer and Lorin Maazel

1970

Maazel appointed Associate Principal Conductor

1970 : Maazel appointed Associate Principal Conductor

With Klemperer’s health in decline, Lorin Maazel is appointed alongside him as Associate Principal Conductor, to an approving London press: “With Klemperer to look after the orchestra’s soul, Maazel will doctor the body.”

Riccardo Muti

1972

Muti becomes Principal Conductor

1972 : Muti becomes Principal Conductor

Following a nod from Karajan, Walter Legge recommends the talents of a young Riccardo Muti to the Orchestra, saying simply to General Manager Gerald McDonald: “He is the conductor for you”. He was, and Muti swiftly became the Philharmonia’s Principal Conductor.

Vladimir Ashkenazy

1977

Ashkenazy conducts the Philharmonia for first time

1977 : Ashkenazy conducts the Philharmonia for first time

Renowned pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy cements his second musical career as a conductor, making his first appearance with the Philharmonia at a concert in Swansea.

Riccardo Muti, with Principal Second Violin Gillian Eastwood and First Violin and Chairman Martyn Jones

1979

Muti offered position of Music Director

1979 : Muti offered position of Music Director

Riccardo Muti is offered, and accepts, the title of Music Director, succeeding Klemperer. Muti’s conditions – that he have the last word on concert programming and new membership of the Orchestra – are possible given the strength of the relationship with the players.

Leader Carl Pini and Prince Charles

1979

Prince of Wales agrees to become Patron

1979 : Prince of Wales agrees to become Patron

In May, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales becomes the Patron of the Philharmonia, the first since the Orchestra’s founding in 1945. He remains a supporter to this day, and has been a great champion of the Orchestra and its work.

Vladimir Ashkenazy in Japan

1981

Ashkenazy made Principal Guest Conductor & Japan tour

1981 : Ashkenazy made Principal Guest Conductor & Japan tour

The Philharmonia Orchestra’s tour to Japan in 1981 sees much-loved pianist and conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy, recently appointed Principal Guest Conductor, settle into his role by conducting twenty concerts in a gruelling one-month tour!

Giuseppe Sinopoli

1983

Sinopoli made Principal Conductor

1983 : Sinopoli made Principal Conductor

Giuseppe Sinopoli, aged 36, makes his first appearance with the Philharmonia on 13 February 1983, and is offered the appointment of Principal Conductor 20 days later.

President Vincent Meyer

1985

Vincent Meyer joins the Philharmonia as President

1985 : Vincent Meyer joins the Philharmonia as President

On 1 April 1985, the young Swiss philanthropist Vincent Meyer is appointed President of the Philharmonia. Mr Meyer still holds this position and has played a big part in the ever-evolving success of the Philharmonia.

David Whelton

1988

David Whelton appointed Managing Director

1988 : David Whelton appointed Managing Director

David Whelton leaves Arts Council England to become Managing Director of the Philharmonia Orchestra. The 2015/16 season marks Mr Whelton’s final season with the Orchestra as Managing Director, after 29 years in the post.

Giuseppe SInopoli conducting the orchestra

1992

Sinopoli steps down from role as Principal Conductor

1992 : Sinopoli steps down from role as Principal Conductor

At the end of the 1991/92 season Giuseppe Sinopoli steps down from his role as Principal Conductor after ten years, leaving a substantial legacy of acclaimed recordings, international touring and projects of immense value to the Orchestra.

Christoph von Dohnányi conducting the Philharmonia in rehearsal

1994

Dohnányi becomes Principal Guest Conductor

1994 : Dohnányi becomes Principal Guest Conductor

At the end of the 1993/94 season Esa-Pekka Salonen and Claus Peter Flor come to the end of their contracts as Principal Guest Conductors. Christoph von Dohnányi, who only two years earlier had come back to conduct the Philharmonia for the first time in 20 years, accepts the Orchestra’s invitation to become the new Principal Guest Conductor, commencing in September 1994.

Christoph von Dohnányi conducting the Philharmonia in rehearsal

1997

Dohnányi becomes Principal Conductor

1997 : Dohnányi becomes Principal Conductor

After three years serving as Principal Guest Conductor, Christoph von Dohnányi is appointed to the post of Principal Conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in 1997. In 2008, the Maestro’s long-standing relationship with the Orchestra is affirmed with the title of Honorary Conductor for Life.

Esa-Pekka Salonen

2008

Salonen becomes Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor

2008 : Salonen becomes Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor

Twenty-five years after his spectacular debut with the Philharmonia conducting Mahler’s 3rd Symphony, Esa-Pekka Salonen returns to become the Philharmonia’s Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor after 17 years at the helm of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Salonen’s tenure with the Orchestra has been marked by acclaimed in-depth concert series and the development of award-winning digital projects including RE-RITE and The Orchestra app for iPad.