The Munich Philharmonic was founded in 1893, and since then, under the direction of renowned conductors, it has vastly enriched Munich’s musical life. Gustav Mahler conducted the orchestra in the world premières of his 4th and 8th Symphonies, and in November 1911, the world première of Mahler’s “Das Lied von der Erde” took place under Bruno Walter’s direction. Ferdinand Löwe led the first Bruckner concerts and established the orchestra’s Bruckner tradition, which was then gloriously continued by Siegmund von Hausegger and Oswald von Kabasta.
During the Rudolf Kempe era the Philharmonic made its first tour to what was then the U.S.S.R. The legendary Bruckner concerts with general music director Sergiu Celibidache made a major contribution to the orchestra’s international reputation. With chief conductor James Levine the orchestra won the prize for the “Best Concert Program in the 2002/2003 Season” from the German Music Publishers’ Association. The Munich Philharmonic made Zubin Mehta the first “conductor laureate” in the orchestra’s history. For the 100ths anniversary of the première of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 in Munich, chief conductor Christian Thielemann conducted two performances of this work. He was succeeded as chief conductor by Lorin Maazel, who held the position until his death in 2014.
As of the 2015-16 season, the position of chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic is held by Valery Gergiev. Tours have taken the Munich Philharmonic to numerous European cities as well as Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan and the USA. Programme highlights conceived by Valery Gergiev include performances of symphonic cycles by Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Rachmaninov as well as new formats, such as the “MPHIL 360°” festival. Concerts are regularly broadcast via live stream and on radio and TV. In September 2016, the first CD recordings documenting the Munich Philharmonic’s work were released under the orchestra’s own label, “MPHIL”. Currently, the Munich Philharmonic and Valery Gergiev are working on a complete recording of Anton Bruckner’s symphonies in the church of St. Florian abbey.
With “Spielfeld Klassik”, the Munich Philharmonic has developed a comprehensive music education programme for young and old. Up to 35,000 people of all ages attended the more than 150 events held each year. Concerts for children, pupils and young people, opportunities for watching rehearsals of the Philharmonic, demonstrations of musical instruments and concert subscriptions for school pupils and students provide especially children and young people with varied opportunities for listening to and learning about classical music and the day-to-day work of a large symphony orchestra. Under the motto of “MPhil vor Ort” (MPhil on Site), the Munich Philharmonic also leaves its home base – the Philharmonie Gasteig – to appear in unusual and varied locations, such as the Hofbräuhaus tavern as well as alpine meadows, clubs and industrial halls.