The State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia (= Svetlanov Symphony Orchestra) is a Russian orchestra based in Moscow. Sometimes known in English as the Russian State Symphony Orchestra, the orchestra gives concerts in Moscow at the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory and at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall. The State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia for 75 years has been one of the leading orchestras of Russia and a special pride of this country's musical culture.
The orchestra was founded in 1936 as the USSR State Symphony Orchestra, (or USSR Symphony Orchestra) with Alexander Gauk as its first Music Director. The ensemble's debut performance took place on October 5, 1936, at the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. Only a few months later, it went on an extensive tour around the former USSR. The orchestra acquired its current name after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
From its inception, the orchestra has been led by the finest musicians such as its founder Alexander Gauk (1936-1941); Natan Rakhlin (1941-1945), who guided it through the difficult World War II years; Konstantin Ivanov (1945-1965), who, for the first time, took it on international tours.
The orchestra's longest serving music director was Evgeny Svetlanov, "the last romantic of the 20th century," from 1965 to 2000. Under Svetlanov's leadership the orchestra became one of the world's best, and its repertoire has grown to include virtually all Russian symphonic music, nearly all Western classics, and countless works by contemporary composers. Svetlanov's tenure ended with his controversial dismissal by Russia's minister of culture, Mikhail Shvydkoi, who had accused Svetlanov of spending excessive time conducting outside of Russia. On October 27, 2005, the name of Evgeny Fedorovich Svetlanov became part of the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia official name name of Svetlanov Symphony Orchestra in recognition of his invaluable contribution to Russian musical culture.
From 2000 to 2002 the orchestra was headed by Vassily Sinaisky, and from 2002 to 2011, by Mark Gorenstein. In 2011, Gorenstein caused controversy with his remarks about Armenian cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan during the 2011 International Tchaikovsky Competition, which led to his removal as conductor for the competition. The orchestra then demanded Gorenstein's dismissal from the orchestra, with accusations of abusive behaviour. Gorenstein was subsequently dismissed from the orchestra in September 2011. On October 24, 2011, the orchestra announced the appointment of Vladimir Jurowski as its 6th and current Principal Conductor, with immediate effect, for an initial contract of 3 years.
The orchestra performs at such prestigious venues as the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, Tchaikovsky Concert Hall (Moscow), Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall (New York), Kennedy Center (Washington, D. C.), Musikverein (Vienna), Albert Hall (London), Salle Pleyel (Paris), Teatro Colon (Buenos Aires), and Suntory Hall (Tokyo).
The list of world renowned and legendary figures who graced the podium of the orchestra as guest conductors includes H. Abendroth, A. Cluytens, V. Gergiev, N. Golovanov, Mariss Jansons, Erich Kleiber, Kirill Kondrashin, Kurt Masur, A. Melik-Pashaev, Yehudi Menuhin, E. Mravinsky, Charles Munch, M. Rostropovich, G. Rozhdestvensky, S. Samosud, Kurt Sanderling, and Y. Temirkanov to name a few.
Among the outstanding soloists who have performed with the orchestra are I. Arkhipova, Yu. Bashmet, M. Caballe, Plácido Domingo, A Fischer, Emil Gilels, Natalia Gutman, O. Kagan, L. Kogan, V. Krainev, M. Long, Yehudi Menuhin, David Oistrakh, Nikolai Petrov, Mikhail Pletnev, Sviatoslav Richter, Vladimir Spivakov, V. Tretyakov, and E. Virsaladze. Recently, this stellar roster was expanded to add A. Baeva, A. Buzlov, M. Fedotov, M. Gulegina, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Evgeny Kissin, A. Knyazev, A. Korobeinikov, M. Kultyshev, N. Lugansky, D. Matsuev, V. Rudenko, Alexander Rudin, and Maxim Vengerov.
After its first tour abroad in 1956, the orchestra has regularly represented Russian culture in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, South Korea, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, the USA, and other countries and participated in the major international festivals and charitable events.
The ensemble devotes a great deal of time to touring Russian cities and also, to charitable activities, including free performances at the country's hospitals, schools, and orphanages.
The orchestra's discography includes hundreds of recordings released by leading Russian and foreign labels such as Melodiya, Bomba-Piter, EMI Classics, BMG, Naxos, Chandos, Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm, and others. The special place in this list belongs to the famous Anthology of the Russian Symphonic Music encompassing audio recordings of Russian composers from Glinka to Glazunov, a Svetlanov's project, to which he dedicated many years.