The Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra is a 105-member ensemble that is the oldest major orchestra from Sweden and arguably that country's most critically acclaimed. It receives support from the Swedish Royal family and appears annually at the Nobel Prize ceremony and Nobel Prize Concert. The orchestra performs a regular schedule of concerts in the Stockholm Concert Hall and frequently goes on tour across Europe, Asia, the U.S., and elsewhere abroad. The orchestra has made countless recordings for a variety of labels, including BIS, Chandos, and Virgin Classics. While known for incisive performances of Swedish works by Stenhammar, Alfvén, Anders Hillborg, and others, it performs a wide range of repertory, from music of Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and Mahler to works by Sibelius, Shostakovich, Schnittke, and Christopher Rouse. The orchestra hosts two annual contemporary music festivals, the Stockholm International Composer Festival and Composer Weekend in May.
The Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra (now officially called the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra) was formed in 1902 as the Stockholm Concert Society, a name it retained for over a half century. The first principal conductor, Georg Schnéevoigt, was appointed in 1915, the year after the orchestra became a permanent ensemble. In 1917 the orchestra began performing regular children's concerts.
Schnéevoigt served until 1924, when Czech conductor Vaclav Talich took the helm. In 1926 the orchestra relocated to the newly constructed Stockholm Concert Hall, which has since remained the ensemble's home.
German conductor Fritz Busch served as principal conductor from 1937-1940, and from his first year the orchestra began broadcasting regular concerts over Swedish Radio. Busch was succeeded in 1942 by Hungarian Carl von Garaguly. Garaguly made several notable recordings during his tenure, including the Concerto No. 1 for strings by Hilding Rosenberg and Rapsodie ebraica by Moses Pergament, recorded in 1949 and 1950, respectively.
Well-known conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler made several notable recordings with the orchestra in the post-war era, as well, including accounts of the Beethoven Symphonies No. 6, No. 7, and No. 8, for EMI. Garaguly stepped down in 1953 and Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt became principal conductor in 1955. From 1957, the ensemble was called the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.
Schmidt-Isserstedt departed in 1964 and Antal Doráti became principal conductor in 1966. He was succeeded by another well-known conductor, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, who would have two tenures, 1974-1977 and 1991-1995. During Rozhdestvensky's second term, the orchestra developed ties to the Swedish Royal family, and from 1992 became known as the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.
Between Rozhdestvensky's two tenures another Russian, Yuri Ahronovitch (1982-1987), and Finnish conductor Paavo Berglund (1987-1990) served as the orchestra's principal conductor. Two conductors shared podium duties from 1995-1998, Andrew Davis and Paavo Järvi.
The first American to become principal conductor, Alan Gilbert, served from 2000-2008. Gilbert led the orchestra on several notable tours, including acclaimed back-to-back concerts at Carnegie in October 2005, in works by Prokofiev, Mahler, Stenhammar, and Alfvén. 2005 was also the year the orchestra began performing at the annual Nobel Prize concert. Sakari Oramo succeeded Gilbert in 2008 and earned a contract extension through 2015.