Founded in 1900, the PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA has distinguished itself as one of the leading orchestras in the world through a century of acclaimed performances, historic international tours, best-selling recordings, and its unprecedented record of innovation in recording technologies and outreach. The Orchestra has maintained an unparalleled unity in artistic leadership with only six music directors piloting its first century: Fritz Scheel (1900-1907), Carl Pohlig (1907-1912), Leopold Stokowski (1912-1941), Eugene Ormandy (1936-1980), Riccardo Muti (1980-1992), and Wolfgang Sawallisch (1993-2003).
This rich tradition is carried on by Christoph Eschenbach, who became music director in 2003. The 2006/07 season, Eschenbach's fourth, highlights the music of Mozart and Shostakovich. In January 2007, Eschenbach led the Orchestra in the Academy of Music 150th Anniversary Concert. During his tenure, Eschenbach has conducted Beethoven's nine symphonies paired with music of our time; led a four-week Late Great Works Festival; launched the Orchestra's first-ever multi-year cycle of Mahler's complete symphonies; and led tours of Europe, Asia, and Florida and Puerto Rico.
The Orchestra began a three-year partnership with Ondine Records in 2005, and has so far released five recordings taken from live concerts. In September 2006, the Orchestra became the first major American orchestra to offer downloads of recent and archival music through its own Online Music Store, www.thephiladelphiaorchestra.com. As of April 2006, the Orchestra is broadcast regularly on NPR. Other recent highlights include a five-year, $125 million endowment campaign launched in 2003; the Orchestra's move to the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in 2001; and the Orchestra's 100th anniversary in 2000.
The Philadelphia Orchestra annually touches the lives of more than one million music lovers worldwide through its performances, publications, recordings, and broadcasts. The Orchestra presents a subscription season in Philadelphia each year from September to May, in addition to education and community partnership programs, and appears annually at Carnegie Hall. Its summer schedule includes an outdoor series at Philadelphia's Mann Center for the Performing Arts, free Neighborhood Concerts, a three-week residency at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in upstate New York, and an annual week-long residency at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival beginning July 2007.