The Eretz Israel Orchestra was founded in 1936 by Jewish violinist Bronislaw Huberman. Many Jewish musicians came to Eretz Israel at that time after having been persecuted in Europe, and Huberman successfully recruited a number of them to fulfill his dream of establishing a classical symphony orchestra. Huberman invited renowned conductor Arturo Toscanini to conduct the inaugural concert on 26 December 1936. With the declaration of Israeli independence in 1948, the orchestra's name was changed to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
Since its founding, the IPO has been an inherent part of Israel's national and cultural life. Among the moving moments in its history are concerts played before Allied troops on various fronts during World War II, playing the Hatikva national anthem at the Israeli Declaration of Independence ceremony, special concerts played during the Six Day War and during the First Gulf War and "The Philharmonic in the Park", which attracted 100,000 people to the largest classical music concert ever held in Israel.
The IPO has a broad fan base throughout the world and is frequently invited to play in the U.S., Europe, Canada, Japan and other places around the world. Everywhere they go the IPO serves as an emissary of peace, harmony and excellence.
Numerous legendary artists have been associated with the Philharmonic and were proud to play with it and conduct it: Arthur Rubinstein, Yehudi Menuhin, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Leonard Bernstein, Daniel Barenboim and Kurt Masur. Many of them formed close bonds with the Philharmonic, and no one more so than Maestro Zubin Mehta. The decorated and multitalented Mehta first appeared with the IPO in 1961 and continues to conduct many of its concerts. In 1981 he was appointed as its Music Director for Life.
The IPO considers musical education for the younger generation to be of the utmost importance, maintaining a variety of educational programs, among them the "KeyNote" program which provides music education for many populations, including the "Scales" project, that furthers music lessons and operates woodwind orchestras for at-risk children and the "Turning Point" project that furthers music education among the Israeli Arab population, realizing Zubin Mehta's vision.
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra performs some 150 concerts each year in subscription series and special concerts, making sure to present a wide variety of musical programs and concerts in order to bring the magic of classical music to a broad audience of all ages and social backgrounds.
IPO Secretary General