London Philharmonic Orchestra Explained

London Philharmonic Orchestra
Background:classical_ensemble
Alias:LPO
Origin:London, England, United Kingdom
Genre:Classical
Popular music
Soundtrack
Symphonic Metal
New Age
Occupation:Philharmonic orchestra
Years Active:1932-present
Associated Acts:London Philharmonic Choir
Website:www.lpo.co.uk
Current Members:Principal Conductor
Vladimir Jurowski
Principal Guest Conductor
Yannick Nézet-Séguin
Composer in Residence
Mark-Anthony Turnage
Past Members:Founder
Sir Thomas Beecham

The London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO), based in London, is one of the major orchestras of the United Kingdom, and is based in the Royal Festival Hall. In addition, the LPO is the main resident orchestra of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera. The LPO also performs concerts at the Congress Theatre, Eastbourne and the Brighton Dome.

History

Early years

The orchestra was formed in 1932 by Sir Thomas Beecham, and played its first concert on 7 October 1932 at the Queen's Hall, London. Its founding associate conductor was Malcolm Sargent.[1] During the early years, the orchestra was led by Paul Beard and David McCallum, and included leading players such as Anthony Pini, Reginald Kell, Léon Goossens, Gwydion Brooke, Geoffrey Gilbert, Bernard Walton and James Bradshaw.[2]

At one of the orchestra's early concerts, in November 1932, the sixteen-year old Yehudi Menuhin played a programme of violin concertos; those by Bach and Mozart were conducted by Beecham, and Elgar's Concerto in B minor was conducted by the composer.

In the 1930s the LPO was the orchestra for the international opera seasons at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, of which Beecham was artistic director.

Beecham conducted the orchestra in a series of 78-rpm recordings for Columbia Records, including a critically acclaimed 1939 recording of Brahms' 2nd Symphony, which was later reissued on LP and CD.

War and post-war years

In 1939 the orchestra's sponsors withdrew their financial support and the orchestra became self-governing, with members of the orchestra themselves taking decisions on the organisation's affairs. During the Second World War it was particularly active in touring the country and bringing orchestral music to places where it was not usually available. Many of the players' instruments were lost in an air-raid in the Queen's Hall in May 1941, and an appeal was broadcast by the BBC, the response to which was enormous, with instruments donated by the public enabling the orchestra to continue. During Beecham's absence, the orchestra was often conducted by Richard Tauber.

After the war, Beecham returned to the LPO for eighteen months, but left to found a new orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic (RPO). Guest conductors in this period included Victor de Sabata, Bruno Walter, Sergiu Celibidache and Wilhelm Furtwängler. In 1949/50 the LPO gave 248 concerts, compared with 103 by the London Symphony Orchestra and 32 each by the Philharmonia and RPO.[3]

After a period with no principal conductor, the orchestra engaged the Dutch conductor Eduard van Beinum in 1947. At that time, foreign nationals were allowed to work in Britain for only six months of the year. In van Beinum’s absences, a roster of conductors guest-conducted the LPO, including Jean Martinon. Van Beinum’s health obliged him to resign in 1950. The LPO's managing director, Thomas Russell, then invited Sir Adrian Boult to take up the principal conductorship, after Boult had retired from his chief conductorship with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

In 1947 the London Philharmonic Choir was founded as the chorus for the LPO.

The orchestra underwent a crisis between 1949 and 1952 because Russell, who had been the leading force in keeping the orchestra going during the war years, came under pressure in the Cold War years because of his communist beliefs. The London County Council withdrew its understanding that the LPO would be the resident orchestra at the new Royal Festival Hall, and eventually the orchestra voted to dismiss Russell.

Boult headed the LPO’s tour of the Soviet Union in 1956.[4] He subsequently stood down as principal conductor, but remained closely associated with the orchestra, and was made its President in 1965. Most of his stereophonic recordings for EMI were made with the LPO.

Through the late 1950s the LPO worked with conductors including Constantin Silvestri and Josef Krips. This was a bad period financially for the orchestra, and it was forced to abandon fixed contracts for its players with holiday and sick pay and pensions, and revert to payment by engagement.

In 1958 the LPO appointed William Steinberg as chief conductor. He was a noted orchestral trainer, and did much to restore playing standards to their former levels.

The 1960s and 70s

In 1962 the orchestra undertook its first tour of India, Australia and the Far East. The conductors were Sir Malcolm Sargent and John Pritchard. Pritchard was appointed the LPO’s chief conductor in 1962. He was also music director of the Glyndebourne Festival, and in 1964 the LPO replaced the RPO as Glyndebourne’s resident orchestra.

In 1967 the LPO appointed Bernard Haitink as its principal conductor. He remained with the orchestra for twelve years, bringing a continuity that had been lacking since Beecham’s departure in 1939.

During this period the orchestra gave fund-raising concerts in which guests from outside the world of classical music appeared, including Danny Kaye, Duke Ellington, Tony Bennett, Victor Borge, Jack Benny and John Dankworth.

In the 1970s the orchestra toured the USA, China, Western Europe, Russia and the USA for a second time. Guest conductors included Erich Leinsdorf, Carlo Maria Giulini, Eugen Jochum,and Sir Georg Solti, who became the LPO’s chief conductor in 1979.

The 1980s and 90s

In 1982 the orchestra celebrated its golden jubilee. A contemporaneous book listed the many famous musicians who had worked with the LPO in its fifty years. In addition to those mentioned above, others were conductors Daniel Barenboim, Leonard Bernstein, Eugen Jochum, Erich Kleiber, Serge Koussevitzky, Pierre Monteux, André Previn and Leopold Stokowski, and soloists Janet Baker, Dennis Brain, Alfred Brendel, Roberto Carnevale, Pablo Casals, Aldo Ciccolini, Clifford Curzon, Victoria de los Ángeles, Jacqueline du Pré, Kirsten Flagstad, Beniamino Gigli, Emil Gilels, Jascha Heifetz, Wilhelm Kempff, Fritz Kreisler, Julian Lloyd Webber, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, David Oistrakh, Luciano Pavarotti, Maurizio Pollini, Leontyne Price, Arthur Rubinstein, Elisabeth Schumann, Rudolf Serkin, Joan Sutherland, Richard Tauber and Eva Turner.

Klaus Tennstedt was principal conductor of the LPO from 1983 to 1987. After Tennstedt stood down because of ill-health, the orchestra was without a principal conductor for 3 years, until the accession of Franz Welser-Möst in 1990. Welser-Möst's tenure was controversial, during which time he received the nickname "Frankly Worse than Most" and many harshly critical reviews.[5] Welser-Möst did bring with him a recording contract with EMI Classics to his relationship with the LPO. However, management turnover, financial stresses, and political disputes at the Southbank Centre at the time contributed to the difficulty of the working atmosphere in the orchestra.[6] [7] Welser-Möst concluded his LPO tenure in 1996.

Present day

After the departure of Welser-Möst, the LPO was without a principal conductor for 4 years, until the appointment of Kurt Masur, who served in the post from 2000 to 2007. In December 2001, Vladimir Jurowski first conducted the LPO as a substitute guest conductor, to critical acclaim.[8] He subsequently became their Principal Guest Conductor in 2003. He conducted the LPO in June 2007 during the concerts marking the re-opening of the refurbished Royal Festival Hall.[9] In September 2007, Jurowski became the LPO's 11th principal conductor. In November 2007, the LPO named Yannick Nézet-Séguin as their new Principal Guest Conductor, effective with the 2008-2009 season.[10] In May 2010, the LPO announced the extension of Jurowski's contract as principal conductor through the 2014-2015 season, and the contract of Nézet-Séguin as principal guest conductor through the 2013-2014 season.[11]

Pieter Schoeman, violinist who has studied under Sylvia Rosenberg and Eduard Schmieder, is the orchestra's current concertmaster.

The current LPO chief executive and artistic director is Timothy Walker.[12] The LPO has begun to issue CDs under its own label.[13]

Non-classical work

As well as giving its classical concerts, the LPO has made several film soundtracks, including Lawrence of Arabia, Philadelphia, The Mission, The Lord of the Rings film trilogy as well as some CD albums of video game music from the Square Enix series Dragon Quest composed by Koichi Sugiyama, Symphonic Poem: Hope for Final Fantasy XII, the soundtrack for Xenosaga Episode I composed by Yasunori Mitsuda and even Elkie Brooks' Screen Gems, the entire album of which was used in modern films. From 1992 they contributed to Lalo Schifrin's Jazz Meets the Symphony project. They can also be heard in the 1993 television production of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, conducted by Simon Rattle and the 1989 EMI recording of the opera. The orchestra also occasionally plays on popular music and heavy metal music records like Nightwish's Once, Dark Passion Play, and Imaginaerum.[14] In 1994, they featured in the 1994 Oasis hit "Whatever", providing the string section. In the mid-1990s the LPO even released tribute albums to rock bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and The Who with covers of the bands' songs, including a rendition of "Kashmir", and a version of "Baba O'Riley", which was featured in the movie Slackers. The Orchestra also recorded most of the 4 CD set "Simply Rock Moods" composed of covers of rock songs in classical, yet contemporary style; for example: "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M. and "Sailing" by Rod Stewart. In 1999, the orchestra was featured on Chick Corea's album Corea. The LPO will record the 205 national anthems for the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.[15]

Suspension of musicians

Four string players were suspended by the orchestra in 2011 for signing a letter to The Independent newspaper calling on The Proms to cancel a concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, on the grounds of the latter's involvement with the Israeli state and its partnership with the Israeli Defense Forces, who impede the development of Palestinian culture, including the prevention of Palestinian musicians from travelling abroad to perform. The suspensions was criticized as 'disproportionate' by Geoffrey Alderman[16] and 'too harsh' by Norman Lebrecht.[17] LPO chief executive Timothy Walker said 'Jewish pressure' led to the suspensions.[18] One of the suspended players later took a claim for discrimination on the grounds of belief to an employment tribunal.[19]

Principal conductors

Sources

External links

Notes and References

  1. Aldous, p 69
  2. Notes to EMI/WRC set SHB 201-204
  3. Hill, Ralph (ed) (1951). Music 1951. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books. OCLC 26147349
  4. Pepper, Maurice, "The London Philharmonic Orchestra in Russia" (February 1957). The Musical Times, 98 (1368): pp. 67-69.
  5. News: Why all those insults made me stronger. Telegraph. Ivan Hewitt. 2005-08-18. 2008-10-05.
  6. News: A Young Conductor Starts at the Top. New York Times. Nicholas Kenyon. 1992-03-15. 2008-10-05.
  7. News: Battered but Unbowed, a Maestro Rebounds. New York Times. James R. Oestreich. 1994-11-13. 2008-10-05.
  8. News: Last-minute stand-in makes an electrifying debut. Telegraph. Matthew Rye. 17 December 2001. 2009-11-20.
  9. News: LPO/Jurowski. The Guardian. Tim Ashley. 15 June 2007. 2007-09-02.
  10. News: Nézet-Séguin Named London Phil Principal Guest Conductor. Playbill Arts. Kevin Shihoten. 20 November 2007. 2007-11-21.
  11. London Philharmonic Orchestra extends contracts with Vladimir Jurowski and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. London Philharmonic Orchestra. 19 May 2010. 2010-05-25.
  12. News: Lord of the dings. The Guardian. Erica Jeal. 31 March 2003. 2007-04-20.
  13. News: London Philharmonic launches own label. The Guardian. Charlotte Higgins. 24 March 2005. 2007-04-20.
  14. http://nightwish.com/en/band/reports?c=21
  15. http://www.paralympic.org/Media_Centre/News/General_News/2011_04_15_a.html London 2012 hands baton to London Philharmonic Orchestra
  16. News: The wrong LPO punishment. Geoffrey Alderman. The Jewish Chronicle. 2011-09-28. 2012-02-02.
  17. Web site: A time for orchestral compassion, and commonsense: Reprieve the LPO-4. Norman Lebrecht. 2011-12-20. Slipped Disc. 2012-02-02.
  18. News: LPO: 'Jewish pressure' led to suspensions. Marcus Dysch. The Jewish Chronicle. 2011-09-27. 2012-02-02.
  19. News: Violinist suspended for Israel Proms protest takes claim to tribunal. Alex Needham. The Guardian. 2012-01-13. 2012-02-02.