The Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra held their first concert with Ignacy Jan Paderewski as soloist on 5 November 1901 in a newly constructed building. The conductor was Emil Młynarski, the orchestra’s cofounder and first music director. Even before the First World War and between the world wars, the orchestra was the centre of Polish musical life, and one of the most important musical institutions in Europe.
In the first years following the Second World War, the concerts of the orchestra were held in theatres and sports halls. On 21 February 1955, in place of its old headquarters, destroyed by German air raids, the orchestra received a reconstructed building and the status of the National Philharmonic. Under the direction of Witold Rowicki, it regained its prestige as Poland’s leading symphonic ensemble. From 1955 to 1958, the post of the artistic director was held by Bohdan Wodiczko, who passed it back to Rowicki. In 1977, it was taken over by Kazimierz Kord. From January 2002 to August 2013, the orchestra’s executive and artistic director was Antoni Wit, and since 1 September 2013 the post of the artistic director has been held by Jacek Kaspszyk.
The Warsaw Symphony Orchestra enjoy popularity and recognition all over the world. The ensemble has toured five continents nearly 150 times, and performed in all the world’s major concert halls. It regularly accompanies the finalists of the Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competitions, the Warsaw Autumn Festival, and prestigious festivals abroad. It makes recordings for Polish Radio and Television, Polish foreign record labels, and film. Its achievements have been repeatedly recognised with prestigious music industry awards, including a 2013 Grammy Award and six other nominations to this award for recordings of oratorios by Krzysztof Penderecki and Karol Szymanowski, the Diapason d’Or, Gramophone Award, Record Geijutsu Award, Classical Internet Award, Cannes Classical Award, and the Polish Fryderyk awards. The ensemble has also performed at numerous prestigious international festivals in Vienna, Berlin, Prague, Bergen, Luzern, Montreux, Moscow, Brussels, Florence, Bordeaux, Athens, at La Folle Journée Festival in Nantes, Bilbao, Lisbon and Tokyo, and at the BBC Proms in London. Beginning with 2016, the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra has regularly cast selected concerts live over the Internet.