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The Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra has embodied the sound of the Hansa City for more than 185 years. Today, the orchestra plays at nearly all opera and ballet performances at the Hamburg State Opera, in addition to its Philharmonic Concerts. The Hamburg Philharmoniker is an internationally renowned symphony orchestra based in Hamburg and also serves as the orchestra of the Hamburg State Opera. It is one of three major orchestras in Hamburg, the others being the Hamburger Symphoniker and the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra.

The forerunner organization, die Philharmonische Gesellschaft (The Philharmonic Society), was founded one hundred and eighty-eight years ago (November 9, 1828), and was led by Friedrich Wilhelm Grund.

09-11-1828: The Philharmonic Society, an "association for the performance of winter concerts", is founded in Hamburg. Under the leadership of Friedrich Wilhelm Grund, the Society becomes a 19th-century meeting-place for renowned artists, including Clara Schumann, Franz Liszt, Hans von Bülow and Johannes Brahms.

1889: Pjotr Iljitsj Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) travels to Hamburg for the German premiere of his Symphony No. 5, which he dedicates to the board of the Philharmonic Society.

1896: The "Association of Friends of Music in Hamburg" is founded, aiming to create a non-seasonal, standing symphony orchestra in Hamburg by raising private and state funds. The association is supported in its goals by Hamburg’s Senate.

1904: Max Fiedler becomes the orchestra’s conductor. His goal is to introduce modernism to its programme. Fiedler manages to engage renowned soloists, for example Artur Schnabel and the violinists Pablo de Sarasate, Fritz Kreisler and Mischa Elman.

1905: Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) conducts the Hamburg premiere of his Symphony No. 5.

1908: The newly-built Musikhalle is inaugurated with a festive concert by the Philharmonic Orchestra. Laeiszhalle.

1934: It merged with the Stadttheater-Orchester to become the Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg (the name under which it recorded a celebrated Eighth Symphony of Anton Bruckner under Eugen Jochum in 1949). The present name was adopted in 2005.

Chief conductors

Die Philharmonische Gesellschaft (1828)

1828-1862: Friedrich Wilhelm Grund
1867-1895: Julius von Bernuth (de) (1830-1902)

Vereins Hamburgischer Musikfreunde (1896)

1908-1921: José Eibenschütz (no)
1904-1922: Max Fiedler
1922-1933: Karl Muck

Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg (1934)

1934-1949: Eugen Jochum
1951-1959: Joseph Keilberth, Artistic Director
1961-1973: Wolfgang Sawallisch
1973-1976: Horst Stein
1976-1982: Aldo Ceccato
1984-1988: Hans Zender, GMD
1988-1997: Gerd Albrecht, GMD
1997-2005: Ingo Metzmacher, GMD
2005-2015: Simone Young, GMD
2015-current: Kent Nagano, GMD