National Philharmonic Orchestra

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The National Philharmonic Orchestra was a British orchestra created exclusively for recording purposes. It was founded by RCA Records producer and conductor Charles Gerhardt and orchestra leader and contractor Sidney Sax. The orchestra was created partly due to the requirements of an extensive recording project for the Reader's Digest.


Before settling on this name, the orchestra began operation in 1964 using a variety of names including RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra and the London Promenade (the latter consisting largely of London Philharmonic Orchestra personnel). It was incorporated as the National Philharmonic Orchestra in 1971 by Sidney Sax. Musicians from London's huge talent pool were contracted by Gerhardt and Sax. By way of example, the violin section would routinely be peppered with leaders / concertmasters of all the major London orchestras, past and present, such as John Ronayne, Bela Dekany, Lionel Bentley, John Ludlow, John Brown, Donald Weekes, Irvine Arditti, Charles Meinardi, Hans Geiger, etc. The orchestra ceased to record exclusively for RCA Records in 1974. Decca Records began recording the orchestra in March 1974. This was for a Phase 4 Stereo recording of the Yellow River Piano Concerto conducted by Elgar Howarth. Columbia Records began using the orchestra in 1975.

Conductors such as Leopold Stokowski, Riccardo Chailly, Richard Bonynge, Charles Gerhardt, Michael Kamen, Carlos Païta and Loris Tjeknavorian have made recordings with the orchestra. Bonynge recorded all three of Tchaikovsky's ballets with it for Decca. With producer George Korngold, Gerhardt made a series of stereo recordings of Hollywood film music with it for RCA (the now legendary "Classic film scores "series) and Kamen recorded Eric Clapton's orchestral sessions from the 24 Nights concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in 1990 and 1991 for Duck Records. Carlos Païta recorded Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 (Pathétique Symphony), Mussorgsky, Glinka, and Borodin for Lodia. Tjeknavorian recorded Borodin's Symphony No. 2, In the Steppes of Central Asia, and opera Prince Igor (including Polovtsian Dances) in 1977 for RCA.

The orchestra has been featured on the soundtrack of many films (particularly those scored by Jerry Goldsmith,Maurice Jarre and Robert O. Ragland) as well as a selection of Star Wars suites from the John Williams catalogue. Bernard Herrmann regularly used the orchestra for recordings of his film work.

Kenneth Schermerhorn conducted the orchestra on the soundtrack of Baryshnikov's production The Nutcracker, a staging of Tchaikovsky's ballet which became a television classic, after being presented live onstage. The orchestra also provided the music for the stage production.

The National Philharmonic Orchestra has since been disbanded.

Film music[edit]

Some of the film scores recorded in England and performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra:


  1. ^ Dursin, Andy (November 10, 2015). "Aisle Seat 11-11: The November Rundown". Film Score Daily. Archived from the original on January 28, 2019. Retrieved January 27, 2019.

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