The NOSPR fulfils the role of a cultural ambassador representing Poland on the international music scene. The orchestra has collaborated with some of the greatest composers of the second half of the 20th century, to mention Witold Lutosławski, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, and Krzysztof Penderecki, and performed the premieres of their works.
The ensemble was created in Warsaw in 1935 and led by Grzegorz Fitelberg until the outbreak of the Second World War. In 1945, the orchestra was reactivated in Katowice by Witold Rowicki, and Fitelberg reassumed the post of its artistic director in 1947. After his death in 1953, the ensemble was managed successively by Jan Krenz, Bohdan Wodiczko, Kazimierz Kord, Tadeusz Strugała, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Stanisław Wisłocki, Jacek Kaspszyk, Antoni Wit, Gabriel Chmura, and Jacek Kaspszyk again. In September 2000, Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa became its executive and programme director. In August 2012, the post of the artistic director and principal conductor was taken by Alexander Liebreich.
Aside from archival recordings for the Polish Radio, the orchestra has recorded over 200 CDs for many renowned labels (among others Decca, EMI, Philips, Chandos, and Naxos), and has been awarded many prizes for its recording achievements, among others the Diapason d’Or and Grand Prix du Disque de la Nouvelle Académie du Disque, Cannes Classical Award and MIDEM Classical Award. In 2017 their Szymanowski, Lutosławski CD under Alexander Liebreich with soloist Gautier Capuçon, NOSPR’s third album in the Polish 20th-century classics series, won an International Classical Music Award.
The orchestra has performed with a plethora of globally acclaimed conductors and soloists. It has executed a range of spectacular projects, enthusiastically welcomed by international critics, to mention Marathon of Górecki Works, Drive to Kilar’s Music, and the Musical Marine Voyage. Since 2005, the orchestra has organised the biennial Festival of World Premieres Polish Modern Music, whose 7th edition was nominated to the Polish Music Coryphée Award in the Music Event of the Year category.