The first Russian symphony orchestra traces its history from 1882, when it was founded on the Order of Alexander III, as the Court Musicians’ Choir. At the beginning of the 20th century, the choir performed the symphonic poems "Ein Heldenleben" and "Also sprach Zarathustra" by Richard Strauss, Mahler's First Symphony and Bruckner's Ninth Symphony, Scriabin's "Poem of Ecstasy" and Stravinsky’s First Symphony, for the first time in Russia. In those years, the orchestra was conducted by: A.Nikisch, R.Strauss, A.Glazunov and S.Kussevitsky.
In 1921, the orchestra had at its disposal the former Nobility Assembly Hall and thus the country's first philharmonic was opened. Such conductors as: B.Walter, F.Weingartner, H.Abendroth, O.Fried, E.Kleiber, P.Monteux and O.Klemperer as well as soloists V.Horowitz, J.Heifetz, Shostakovich and Prokofiev performed with the orchestra. In 1918, the orchestra presented the premiere of Prokofiev’s "Classical Symphony" and in 1926 – the First Symphony by Shostakovich.
In 1934, the orchestra – the first in the country – was awarded the title "Honored orchestra of the Republic." 1938 began what is referred to as the "Age of Mravinsky" and years of hard work earned the orchestra a place amongst the most prominent ensembles in the world. In 1946 the orchestra first performed internationally and since has regularly toured. A unique and creative alliance formed between D.Shostakovich and E.Mravinsky, to whom the composer dedicated his Eighth Symphony. Other important collaborations include those with K.Sanderling, A.Jansons and M.Jansons. During these years, the orchestra continued to work with leading conductors and soloists. Among the conductors were K.Kondrashin, E.Svetlanov, I.Markevich, Z.Mehta, L.Maazel, Ch.Munch and Ch.Bruck. Among the soloists were G.Gould, V.Cliburn, S.Richter, E.Gilels, D.Oistrakh, L.Kogan, I.Stern and I.Menuhin.
Since 1988, Yuri Temirkanov has lead the orchestra. Recently, the orchestra has been ranked in the top twenty orchestras in the world (according to Gramophone magazine) has toured in Europe, Asia, America, and participated in prestigious music festivals – in Lucerne, Italian MiTo, Verbier and Annecy. At the Grand Hall, the orchestra continues to introduce audiences to composers’ premieres: the works by Penderecki, Nono, Tishchenko, Slonimsky, Segerstam, Obukhov, Korngold, Rota and Desyatnikov. In the ‘Temirkanov Era’, the orchestra has been led by C.-M.Guilini, G.Solti, G.Rozhdestvensky, M.Jansons, K.Nagano, A.Wit, I.Marin, V.Jurowski, V.Sinaysky, I.Metzmacher, Jean-Claude Casadesus, M.Tabachnik and E.Krivin. The names of the soloists are no less sublime: I.Perlman, D.Norman, Yo-Yo Ma, E.Virsaladze, E.Leonskaya, E.Kissin, D.Matsuev, N.Lugansky, V.Feltsman, E.Grimaud, B.Berezovsky, G.Kremer, V.Repin, N.Gutman, M.Maysky, D.Geringas, A.Knyazev and E.Glennie