The Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia was the first orchestra in Italy to devote itself exclusively to symphonic repertoire, giving premieres of major masterpieces of the 20th century such as Respighi’s Fountains of Rome and Pines of Rome. Founded in 1908, the Orchestra has been conducted by some of the major musical figures of the 20th century: from Mahler, Strauss, Sibelius, Stravinskij, Toscanini, Mengelberg, Furtwängler, De Sabata, Karajan, Solti, Giulini, Carlos Kleiber and Claudio Abbado to the most impressive performers of our day including Riccardo Muti, Valery Gergiev, Kurt Masur and Christian Thielemann. Leonard Bernstein was the Honorary President from 1983 until 1990, during which time the likes of Lorin Maazel, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Georges Prêtre and Yuri Temirkanov regularly conducted the Orchestra di Santa Cecilia.
After a long partnership with Bernardino Molinari, the Orchestra’s Music Directors have been Franco Ferrara, Fernando Previtali, Igor Markevitch, Thomas Schippers, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Daniele Gatti and Myung-Whun Chung. With Sir Antonio Pappano, Musical Director since 2005, the stature of the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia has enjoyed extraordinary success, building an international reputation for itself. With Pappano at the helm, the Orchestra has appeared at some of the major music festivals including the Proms in London, the White Nights in St. Petersburg, the Lucerne and Salzburg Festival, and has performed in some of the world’s best-known venues, including Musikverein in Vienna, Philharmonie in Berlin, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Royal Albert Hall in London, Salle Pleyel in Paris, La Scala in Milan, Suntory Hall in Tokyo and Semperoper in Dresden.
After long-term collaborations with some of the biggest international record labels who have produced recordings that have since become legendary, Santa Cecilia Orchestra’s discography has grown considerably in the past few years: recent releases with EMI Classics (now Warner Classics), under Pappano, include Tchaikovsky’s last three Symphonies, Respighi’s Roman Symphonic Poems, Lalo’s Cello Concerto (with Han-Na Chang), Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (with Angela Gheorghiu, winner of a Classic Brit Award), Verdi’s Requiem (Gramophone Award, BBC Music Magazine, Classic Brit) and more recently Rossini’s Stabat Mater with Anna Netrebko (Gramophone Editors’ Choice Award) and Guillaume Tell, Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No.2, Mahler’s Symphony No.6, Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 “From the New World”, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, Verdi’s Quattro pezzi sacri, Britten’s War Requiem and Rossini Overtures.