Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (abbreviation IPO; Hebrew: התזמורת הפילהרמונית הישראלית, ha-Tizmoret ha-Filharmonit ha-Yisra'elit) is a major Israeli symphony orchestra based in Tel Aviv. Its principal concert venue is Heichal HaTarbut.

Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Leonard Bernstein, Osaka Festival Hall (1985)
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Zubin Mehta, 70th anniversary celebrations
Charles Bronfman Auditorium (Heichal Hatarbut), home of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in Tel Aviv
Zubin Mehta conducting
the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra
at the Jamshed Bhabha Theater (NCPA) in Mumbai
Bronisław Huberman, a Polish-Jewish violinist who founded the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra



The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra was founded as the Palestine Symphony Orchestra by violinist Bronisław Huberman in 1936, at a time of the dismissal of many Jewish musicians from European orchestras.[1] Its inaugural concert took place in Tel Aviv on December 26, 1936, conducted by Arturo Toscanini. Its first principal conductor was William Steinberg.

Its general manager between 1938 and 1945 was Leo Kestenberg, who, like many of the orchestra members, was a German Jew forced out by the rise of Nazism and the persecution of Jews. During the Second World War, the orchestra performed 140 times before Allied soldiers, including a 1942 performance for soldiers of the Jewish Brigade at El Alamein. At the end of the war, it performed in recently liberated Belgium. In 1948, after the creation of the State of Israel, the orchestra was renamed as the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 1955, the Orchestra played for Pope Pius XII at the Vatican, in appreciation for the assistance the Pope had given to Jewish victims of Nazism during World War Two.[2]

Particular conductors notable in the history of the orchestra have included Leonard Bernstein and Zubin Mehta. Bernstein maintained close ties with the orchestra from 1947, and in 1988, the IPO bestowed on him the title of Laureate Conductor, which he retained until his death in 1990. Mehta became the IPO's Music Advisor in 1969. The IPO did not have a formal music director, but instead "music advisors", until 1977, when Mehta was appointed the IPO's first Music Director. In 1981, his title was elevated to Music Director for Life.[3] In December 2016, the Israel Philharmonic announced that Mehta is to conclude his tenure as music director as of October 2019.[4] Principal guest conductors of the orchestra have included Yoel Levi and Gianandrea Noseda.

With Mehta, the IPO has made a number of recordings for Decca. With Bernstein, the IPO recorded his own works and works of Igor Stravinsky, for Deutsche Grammophon. The IPO has also collaborated with Japanese composer Yoko Kanno in the soundtrack of the anime Macross Plus.

The initial concerts of the Palestine Orchestra in December 1936, conducted by Toscanini, featured the music of Richard Wagner.[5] However, after the Kristallnacht pogroms in November 1938, the orchestra has maintained a de facto ban on Wagner's work, due to that composer's antisemitism and the association of his music with Nazi Germany.[6]

The Secretary-General of the orchestra is Avi Shoshani. The IPO has a subscriber base numbering 26,000.[7] Commentators have noted the musically conservative tastes of the subscriber base,[8] although the IPO is dedicated to performing new works by Israeli composers, such as Avner Dorman.

Among the orchestra's education initiatives are the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music, a partnership between the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and Tel Aviv University. Created by Zubin Mehta and philanthropist Josef Buchmann to educate orchestral musicians to supply the artistic future of the IPO and other orchestras,[9] the school is located on the university's campus in Tel Aviv and works very closely with the IPO, including orchestral training programs, master classes with IPO guest artists and special concerts at the IPO's halls. Several members of the IPO are BMSM alumni, while various IPO musicians serve as BMSM faculty members.

In 2007, Lahav Shani first appeared with the IPO as guest soloist. Starting in October 2013, he appeared as guest conductor with the orchestra each year. In January 2018, the IPO announced the appointment of Shani as its next music director, effective with the 2020-2021 season, a position he retains as at April 2022.[10][11]

In February 2024, the IPO, led by Tomer Adaddi, performed alongside Shiri Maimon for a concert and live album recording of her greatest hits,[12] including a Hebrew rendition of "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" from Evita, in which Maimon starred in 2015.[13]

Awards and recognition


In 1958, the IPO was awarded the Israel Prize, in music, the first time that an organisation received the Prize.[14]

Music advisors


Music directors


Boycott controversies


The orchestra's performance in London at The Proms on September 1, 2011 was disrupted by pro-Palestinian protesters. The radio broadcast was interrupted, but the concert was broadcast again a few days later.[15] The orchestra's secretary-general Avi Shoshani declared to London's The Times newspaper that the orchestra was unlikely to ever perform in the UK again.[16] Nobody was prosecuted for the disruptions, partly because the management of the Royal Albert Hall, where the concert took place, declined to cooperate with a group of Israel-supporting lawyers.[17]

American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (AFIPO) is a non-profit organization dedicated to sustaining the financial future of the Israel Philharmonic. Necessitated by the lack of substantial Israeli government subsidy or endowment for the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, AFIPO's purpose was crystallized in 1980 through the joint vision of Fredric R. Mann and Zubin Mehta, who created an endowment fund in the United States to ensure the IPO's future. AFIPO seeks to broaden the reach of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and bring its message through music throughout the world. The monies raised by AFIPO are directed towards a fund which assists with the operational support of the orchestra and its musical education programs throughout Israel. Based in New York, the organization cultivates support for the Orchestra by hosting events and encouraging supporters all over North America to contribute to the Israel Philharmonic, a cultural ambassador of the state of Israel.

See also



  1. ^ Outplaying Hitler: The Creation of the Palestine Symphony Orchestra
  2. ^ The Australian Jewish Times; 17 Oct, 1958
  3. ^ Davidson, Justin (2007-01-28). "His Life's Work: Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic". Newsday. Retrieved 2009-08-30.
  4. ^ "Zubin Mehta announces retirement from Israel Philharmonic". The Jerusalem Post. 2016-12-26. Retrieved 2017-11-07.
  5. ^ Hilferty, Robert (2007-01-29). "Facing the Wagner Question". New York Sun. Retrieved 2009-08-30.
  6. ^ Walsh, Michael (1992-01-13). "The Case of Wagner – Again". Time. Archived from the original on January 18, 2005. Retrieved 2009-08-30.
  7. ^ Lasserson, David (2006-12-21). "And the Orchestra Played On". Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2008-02-21. Retrieved 2009-08-30.
  8. ^ Erlanger, Steven (2007-01-30). "A Country's Cultural Centerpiece Comes Calling". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-30.
  9. ^ "First chair: After years of hardship, the Rubin Academy of Music at Tel Aviv University is finally playing a new tune". The Jerusalem Post. 15 April 2005.
  10. ^ "Lahav Shani Named Music Director of the IPO" (Press release). Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. 17 January 2018. Archived from the original on 2020-11-29. Retrieved 2018-01-17.
  11. ^ Michael Cooper (2018-01-17). "After 50 Years, Israel Philharmonic Names a New Conductor". New York Times. Retrieved 2018-01-17.
  12. ^ "Shiri Maimon and the Israel Philharmonic @ Hikul Hatarbut". Secret Tel Aviv. Retrieved 2024-06-09.
  13. ^ Steinberg, Jessica (2018-02-01). "Israel's Shiri Maimon takes on Broadway with role in 'Chicago'". Times of Israel.
  14. ^ "Israel Prize recipients in 1958 (in Hebrew)". Israel Prize Official Site. Archived from the original on February 8, 2012.
  15. ^ Marcus Dysch (2011-09-02). "Anti-Israel protesters disrupt BBC Proms". The Jewish Chronicle. United Kingdom. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  16. ^ Neil Fisher (2012-01-03). "We represent the country the minute we go on stage". The Times. United Kingdom.
  17. ^ Simon Rocker (2012-02-23). "No prosecution in Israel Proms disruption". The Jewish Chronicle. United Kingdom. Retrieved 2012-03-03.