The Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra
The Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra exists as a professional orchestral body since 1871, but it was assigned its current name in 1920. During that time, the Orchestra has been at the forefront of musical art, not only in Zagreb but throughout Croatia and four continents. This is evident from the vast number of performances in its hometown as well as the impressive list of cities, countries and music halls the Orchestra has since performed at.
In most part, the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra owes its sucess to a number of art directors and chief conductors, namely Ivan pl. Zajc, Krešimir Baranović, Milan Sachs, Friedrich Zaun, Lovro pl. Matačić, Milan Horvat, Pavle Dešpalj, Pavel Kogan, Kazushi Ono, Alexander Rahbari, Vjekoslav Šutej, David Danzmayr, and the newly elected David Runtz. In the past few seasons alone, it has performed at the Carnegie Hall in New York, in Argentina, Oman, Kuwait and China, followed by performances in Vienna, Salzburg, Lisbon, Budapest, Warsaw, Krakow, Moscow, Leningrad, Rome, Dresden, Zurick and Milan.
In addition, the orchestra regulary tours at home, with seasonal concerts in Vukovar, Djakovo, Dubrovnik, Split and Istria.
The most memorable concerts of the past decade include the two performances of Mahler’ Symphony of a Thousand (held in Zagreb and Ljubljana in 2011) , during which the Zagreb and Slovenian Phil Orchestras joined together with 20 choirs from both countries and a number of top vocal soloist to deliver a 1135-people strong symphony conducted by the celebrated Valey Gergiev.
The orchestra is also a strong supporter of developing young musicians, both through its annual Most Successful Musician Award, as well as through holding concerts for Zagreb Academy of Music where the academy’s students are given a chance to perform as soloists, conductors and composers.
The Orchestra regularly promotes Croatian music whilst performing abroad and commissions new pieces from Croatian composers for its regular concert season in the Lisinski Hall.
In addition, the orchestra has been frequently recording for well-known record companies. In recent years, they recorded 3 CDs for Oehms Classics under maestro Dmitry Kitayenko, featuring pieces by Russian masters, while the first of the three CDs featuring contemporary Croatian composers are recently released by Cantus.
In its most recently developed concert series, The OFF CYCLE, the orchestra boldly ventures out of the world of classical music with its popular concerts such as Tango & Fado, Walt Disney Magic Music, Stjepan Hauser – the cello wizard, Guitar Fever by Vlatko Stefanovski, or rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar.The charity concerts also constitute a part of every concert season of the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra and they include among others Step into Life, Show Love and Concert for Life in Memory of Ana Rukavina and Vjekoslav Sutej. Finally, the concert season is further supplemented by regular Christmas concerts, Lent concerts, Philharmonic Balls, as well as concerts marking state holidays. It is hard to count how many times a year the orchestra gets up to greet a conductor whose first swing of the baton marks the beginning of another musical adventure.