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The ISRAEL PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA is one of Israel's oldest and most influential cultural institutions. Since its founding in 1936, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra has dedicated itself to presenting the world's greatest music to audiences in Israel and around the world. Founded by Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra represents the fulfillment of his dream "to unite the desire of the country for an orchestra with the desire of the Jewish musicians for a country." Huberman spent countless hours persuading first-chair musicians of Eastern European and German orchestras, who had lost their jobs as a result of Nazism, to immigrate to Palestine. In doing so, Huberman created an "orchestra of soloists" which, under the esteemed leadership of Zubin Mehta, continues to absorb new immigrants and serve as a gathering point for musicians from all over the world.
Major soloists and conductors have always performed with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Its inaugural concert was conducted by Arturo Toscanini, who felt his participation was a means to demonstrate his opposition to Fascism. Its members traveled in armored cars to play in a besieged Jerusalem during the War of Independence, and, among Israelis, the memory of IPO Laureate Conductor Leonard Bernstein conducting the Orchestra in front of 5,000 soldiers on the Negev dunes after the battle for Beersheba, is an historic moment. Through it all, the Orchestra has enjoyed associations with such renowned artists as Emanuel Ax, Daniel Barenboim, Yefim Bronfman, Principal Guest Conductor Yoel Levi, Yo-Yo Ma, Lorin Maazel, Honorary Guest Conductor Kurt Masur, Itzhak Perlman, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Arthur Rubinstein, Gil Shaham, Isaac Stern, and Pinchas Zukerman. Their time and talent have enriched the cultural life of Israel and have helped the Orchestra to maintain its high artistic standards.
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is Israel's premier cultural ambassador and travels extensively throughout the world, particularly to countries where there is little or no Israeli representation. The good-will created by these tours, which have included historic visits to Japan, Argentina, Poland, Hungary, Russia, China, and India is of enormous value to the State of Israel. In 2005, the Orchestra's international touring garnered rave reviews when they traveled to Berlin, Germany to commemorate 40 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany, to London, Paris, and Geneva on a tour co-sponsored by the Weizmann and Pasteur Institutes, and to South America where the Orchestra visited eight cities in 20 days. This past December, world-renowned artists came to Israel to help celebrate the IPO's 70th Anniversary. The remarkable two-week festival of music and events marked the historic beginning of the Orchestra.
Currently, the Orchestra gives more than 130 performances each year in Israel to their 26,000 subscribers, where 12 different concert series are presented in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra has always been integral to the fabric of Israel. The Orchestra has played a prominent role in many celebrations and important historical milestones for the State of Israel and remains an eloquent voice for peace.