The roots of the Brno Philharmonic go back to the 1870s, when the young Leoš Janáček endeavoured to establish a Czech symphony orchestra in Brno. The works of the famous twentieth-century composer constitute the core of the orchestra’s repertory, and to this day the Filharmonie Brno considers itself to be the authentic performer of his oeuvre.
The present orchestra was created in 1956 by merging the Brno-based Radio and Regional orchestras, and since then has been among the leading Czech orchestras in terms of both size and importance. On its tours abroad, it has performed about a thousand concerts throughout Europe, the United States of America, Latin America, and both the Middle and Far East. The Filharmonie Brno is a regular guest at festivals in the Czech Republic and abroad, frequently joining forces for these appearances with the Czech Philharmonic Choir Brno.
The orchestra regularly records for the Czech Radio, Czech Television and a number of music labels (including Supraphon, Sony Music, IMG Records, BMG and Channel 4), and in 2020 founded its own label, Filharmonie Brno. It is also receiving a growing number of commissions from global clientele through the agency Czech Orchestra Recordings.
Throughout its history, the orchestra has had a number of Czech and international conductors, including Břetislav Bakala, František Jílek, Petr Altrichter, Jiří Bělohlávek, Sir Charles Mackerras, Jakub Hrůša or Tomáš Netopil. Maestro Dennis Russell Davies has been appointed the orchestra’s new chief conductor and artistic director beginning with the 2018/2019 season.
Since 2000 the Filharmonie Brno has been organising the open-air summer festival at the Špilberk castle in Brno, and in 2012 has become the organiser of the renowned traditional festivals Moravian Autumn, Easter Festival of Sacred Music and Exposition of New Music. The orchestra sponsors the internationally lauded children’s choir Kantiléna, has been involved since 2010 in the young musicians’ festival Mozart’s Children, and in 2014 founded the Filharmonie Brno Orchestra Academy.
Today Filharmonie Brno is not only a strong player in the field of symphonic music at home and abroad, but also the primary organiser of the musical season in the second largest Czech city, an active instigator of festivals and a creative leader in orchestral programming.
Its home is the beautiful Besední dům (former civic house), the Brno counterpart to Vienna’s Musikverein, built in 1873 according to a design by Theophil Hansen, though the orchestra is now looking forward to its new modern concert hall, which is being designed by a team of Tomasz Konior, Petr Hrůša and acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota.