Founded in 1842, the New York Philharmonic is one of the most renowned orchestras in the world, and the oldest symphony orchestra in the United States.
Popularly referred to as one of the “Big Five”, the New York Philharmonic was founded in 1842 by the American conductor Ureli Corelli Hill, along with with the Irish composer William Vincent Wallace, and had as its intended purpose the advancement of instrumental music. They are based in David Geffen Hall at New York’s Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts.
Their first concert took place on 7 December 1842 before an audience of 600. It opened with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and offered an eclectic, three-hour programme (which included chamber music and several operatic selections with a leading singer of the day) as was then the custom. The musicians operated as a cooperative society, deciding by majority vote such issues as membership, what music to play and who would conduct it. At the end of the season, the players would divide any proceeds among themselves.
In 1971, Pierre Boulez became the first French Music Director, during which time he expanded the Orchestra’s repertoire and introduced innovative approaches including the “Prospective Encounters” which explored new works, along with the composer, in alternative venues. He also launched the Emmy Award-winning “Live From Lincoln Center” television series that runs to this day.
An extensive archive dating back to the orchestra’s inception contains a wide variety of visual and written ephemera. In recent years, the archive has undertaken a digitization project to document the ‘International Era’, 1943-1970.
The Leonard Bernstein scholar-in-residence program was established in 2005 in recognition of the fifteenth anniversary of Bernstein’s death. The scholar-in-residence gives an annual lecture series and is also featured in performances with the NYP.
Members of the New York Philharmonic string section are heard on the 1971 John Lennon album Imagine, credited as ‘”The Flux Fiddlers”.
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