The LPO was founded in 1932, and has since enjoyed a key position in the UK's cultural landscape.

History of the LPO

Notable dates

7 October 1932
Sir Thomas Beecham conducts the newly formed London Philharmonic Orchestra on its first public appearance at the Queen's Hall.

Sir Thomas Beecham conducts

1932 footage of Sir Thomas Beecham introducing and conducting the LPO at Queen's Hall on 15 December 1932

20 November 1932
Sir Edward Elgar conducts his Violin Concerto with the young Yehudi Menuhin as soloist.

September 1939
The original company is put into liquidation and the players take control. Principal Horn, Charles Gregory, is elected first Chairman of the new company.

10 May 1941
The Orchestra takes part in the last concert given in London's Queen's Hall before it is destroyed in the Blitz.

22 June 1942
The Orchestra gives the world premiere of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 7 (Leningrad), in a BBC studio broadcast under Sir Henry Wood.

24 October 1943
The Orchestra gives the UK premiere of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 6, at London's Adelphi Theatre under Anatole Fistoulari.

23 February 1950
The Orchestra gives the UK premiere of Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 6, under Eduard van Beinum at London's Royal Albert Hall.

3 May 1951
The Orchestra takes part in the first concert at the newly opened Royal Festival Hall.

10 April 1955
The Orchestra gives the UK premiere of  Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10, under Sir Adrian Boult at Royal Festival Hall.

25 September 1956
The London Philharmonic Orchestra touches down in the Soviet Union with Principal Conductor Sir Adrian Boult for a two-week tour, becoming the first ever British orchestra to appear in Soviet Russia.

Spring 1961
The LPO is the first British orchestra to tour to Australia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, India and Sri Lanka (then Ceylon).

21 May 1964
The Orchestra plays at Glyndebourne for the first time, appearing at the summer festival as the Glyndebourne Festival Orchestra before reverting to its own name the following year.

23 April 1970
The Orchestra performs for the first time in the USA, beginning a major tour of the country in New York with a concert at Carnegie Hall conducted by Principal Conductor Bernard Haitink.

3 March 1973
The LPO's 40th anniversary season is crowned by an invitation to become the first Western orchestra to visit China.

26 September 1977
One of the great orchestra-conductor relationships begins: Klaus Tennstedt conducts the Orchestra for the first time in a performance of Mahler's First Symphony at Royal Festival Hall.

The Orchestra establishes its Education & Community programme.

July 1993
The LPO becomes the first British orchestra to visit South Africa post-Apartheid.

21 March 1998
The Orchestra inaugurates its Roots Classical Fusions concerts, combining musical traditions from across the globe and inspiring the Orchestra's ongoing Education & Community programme.

21 April 2005
The Orchestra launches its own record label with four titles conducted by Principal Conductors Kurt Masur, Klaus Tennstedt and Bernard Haitink, and Principal Guest Conductor Vladimir Jurowski.

19 September 2007
Vladimir Jurowski's first concert as Principal Conductor as the Orchestra celebrates its 75th anniversary season.

15 April 2011
The Orchestra is selected to record the world's national anthems for the London 2012 Olympics.

5 July 2012
The Orchestra is invited to perform at the launch of London’s newest and tallest skyscraper, The Shard.

3 June 2012
The Orchestra performs as part of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames.

24 May 2014
The LPO wins the prestigious 'Ensemble' award at the RPS Music Awards, celebrating outstanding achievement for its major involvement in Southbank Centre's 2013 The Rest Is Noise festival.

Oct 2014 - April 2015
Rachmaninoff: Inside Out: a season-long celebration of Rachmaninoff's music.

18 December 2014
The LPO is the first UK orchestra to perform in Iceland's new Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik. 

15 June 2015
The Orchestra performs at Runnymede Park as part of the celebrations of the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta, attended by Her Majesty the Queen and Prime Minister David Cameron.

September 2015
The LPO tours Mexico – the first visit in over 20 years and part of the UK/Mexico Year of Culture.

September 2017
Vladimir Jurowski celebrates his 10th anniversary as the LPO’s Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor.

During the COVID-19 pandemic the LPO was unable to give public concerts but sustained its relationship with audiences and engaged with many new audiences – both in the UK and worldwide – through ‘LPOnline’, an extensive programme of online and distanced performances.

August 2020
With the 2020 Glyndebourne Festival cancelled, the Orchestra gave ten outdoor performances of Offenbach’s opera Mesdames de la Halle in Glyndebourne's gardens, conducted by Robin Ticciati.

September 2020
Karina Canellakis becomes the Orchestra's Principal Guest Conductor.

September 2021
Edward Gardner becomes the Orchestra’s 13th Principal Conductor, succeeding Vladimir Jurowski, who becomes Conductor Emeritus in recognition of his transformative impact on the Orchestra as Principal Conductor from 2007–21.

The Orchestra returns to live concerts with audiences at the Royal Festival Hall.