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State Symphony Orchestra of Russia (Orchestra)

Chief conductor and artistic director: Mark Gorenstein

The State Symphony Orchestra of Russia is an orchestra that represents for many one of the basic reference points of musical life both in Moscow and in Russia as a whole. For almost 70 years it keeps the status of the leading orchestra of the country and is a special pride of the Russian culture. The State Orchestra of the USSR was founded in 1936 by decision of the Government. The legendary Alexander Gauk, a brilliant interpreter and phenomenal educator, became its first conductor. Later on the Orchestra was headed by outstanding conductors Natan Rakhlin, Konstantin Ivanov, Eugene Svetlanov, Vasily Sinaisky. In 2002 National Artist of Russia, Mark Gorenstein, became chief conductor and artistic director of the Orchestra.

From its very foundation the State Orchestra was bound to continue the concert traditions founded at the end of the 18th century—the time of the first organized public performances. After the Small and Big Halls of the Moscow Conservatory were opened the concerts became regular, and they were led by the most prominent musicians, conductors and composers of Russia and other European countries, among them Alexander Glazunov, Sergei Rachmaninov, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Alexander Skriabin, Sergei Taneev, Peter Tchaikovsky, Hector Berlioz, Antonin Dvorzhak, Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss… Continuing the traditions the State Orchestra has made a great contribution to education performing in the most remote parts of the country.

In the international arena the State Orchestra is recognized as one of the best symphony orchestras of the world.

This team became the first independent symphony orchestra to present the musical art of the Soviet Union to foreign countries. The first foreign tour of the State Orchestra took place in 1956 in Poland and Romania. Two years later it went to Belgium. In 1958 the Orchestra began its acquaintance with the Asian countries visiting China. Several years later it reached the American continent. A two-month tour across the USA ended with a concert in New York’s Madison Square Garden in front of an audience of 16 thousand people. From the beginning of the sixties the State Orchestra of the USSR began its triumphant procession across countries and continents, at the same time participating in prestigious international musical festivals (the Edinburgh Festival, Athens Music Festival, Florentine May Festival and many others) and other prominent cultural actions. The State Orchestra has performed and continues to perform in the best concert halls of the world such as: the Big Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, Musikverein in Vienna, Albert Hall in London, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Centre in New York, Salle Pleyel in Paris, Kennedy Centre in Washington, national opera Theatre Colon in Buenos Aires, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, and Stravinsky Concert Hall in Montreux. In autumn 2002, the Orchestra went on tour to Italy. The final concert took place in the summer residence of the Pope, Castel Gandolfo, at the Vatican with Mark Gorenstein as conductor and Roberto Alagnia and Angela Gheorghiu as soloists.

The whole artistic career of the State Orchestra was accompanied by world stars: its conductor’s stand was occupied by Nikolai Golovanov, Samuil Samosud, Alexander Melik-Pashaev, Kirill Kondrashin, Eugene Mravinsky, Alexander Lazarev, Vladimir Fedoseev, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Yury Temirkanov, Valery Gergiev, Mstislav Rostropovich.

Foreign maestros including Erich Kleiber, Yehudi Menuhin, Lorin Maazel and Andrew Litton, Neeme Jarvi, Kurt Masur, Herman Abendroth and Franz Konwitschny, Igor Markevich, Andre Cluytens and Charles Muench, Krzyshtof Penderezki regarded it an honor to conduct the State Academic Symphony Orchestra. The State Orchestra became the first Russian orchestra to be conducted by Igor Stravinsky who visited Russia for the first time in 1962 and highly estimated the musicians’ professional skills.

The list of soloists with whom the State Orchestra performed and made numerous recordings is also impressive. The orchestra’s partners on the stage were Svyatoslav Richter, Natalia Gutman, Oleg Kagan, Eliso Virsaladze, Vladimir Spivakov, Nikolai Petrov, Victor Tretyakov, Yury Bashmet, Daniil Shafran, Eugene Kisin, Lion Oborin, Emil Gilels, Anna Fisher, Margarita Long, Leonid Kogan, David Oistrakh, Yehudi Menuhin, Isaak Stern, Mstislav Rostropovich, Mikhail Pletnev, Andrey Korsakov, John Lill, Montserrat Caballe, Placido Domingo, Kathleen Battle… At the end of the 20th century the number of the State Orchestra soloists was enlarged by new stars—Denis Matsuev, Nikolai Lugansky, Ayako Uehara, Vadim Rudenko and others.

Many works of the Soviet composers were born in cooperation with the State Orchestra. The State Orchestra was the first performer of a number of pieces by Myaskovsky, Shaporin, Sviridov, Part, Slonimsky, and Eshpai. Composers frequently took part in performing their works with the State Orchestra themselves, including Prokofiev, Khachaturian, Kabalevsky, Shostakovich, Khrennikov, Babadzhanyan, Shchedrin, Eshpai, and Kancheli.

The Orchestra’s enormous discography consists of several hundreds of LPs and CDs. This titanic work includes the recording of the famous “Anthology of the Russian Music” (over 250 disks) and “Treasures of the West-European Music” presenting foreign music of all eras and styles. In 1969 Eugene Svetlanov and the State Orchestra were awarded the Grand Prix du Disque award by the French Academy of Sound Recording and Edison Music Award (the Netherlands) for the recording of all Tchaikovsky’s symphonies (carried out by the “Melody” together with “Pate Marconi”, France).




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