Philharmonia Zurich - Ensemble - Opernhaus Zürich

Philharmonia Zürich

The Zürich Opera Orchestra was created following the division of the venerable Tonhalle and Theatre Orchestra in 1985. In 2012, with the beginning of Andreas Homoki’s directorship and the accession of the new General Music Director Fabio Luisi, the Zürich Opera Orchestra became the Philharmonia Zürich.

Each season, the Orchestra can be heard at about 250 opera and ballet performances given by Zürich Opera House. The Philharmonic Concerts are also organised as a podium for the concert repertoire. Soirées and chamber music matinees complete the Orchestra’s artistic spectrum.
Before Fabio Luisi took over artistic direction of the Orchestra at the beginning of the 2012/13 season, his predecessors had included Franz Welser-Möst (1995–2008, General Music Director from 2005), and most recently Daniele Gatti as Principal Conductor (2009–2012). In 2000/01, the Zürich Opera Orchestra’s consistency and versatility were rewarded with extensive international recognition when it was voted “Orchestra of the Year” in a survey conducted by Opernwelt magazine.

Many renowned conductors, such as Riccardo Chailly, Christoph von Dohnányi, Vladimir Fedoseyev, John Eliot Gardiner, Valery Gergiev, Bernard Haitink, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Heinz Holliger, Zubin Mehta, Ingo Metzmacher, Georges Prêtre, Nello Santi, Ralf Weikert and many others come to Zürich regularly to work with the Orchestra on opera and/or concert performances. The Orchestra can also frequently be heard abroad, including performances at the Musikverein in Vienna, the Alte Oper Frankfurt, London’s Royal Festival Hall, and in Tokyo.

One of the Philharmonia Zürich’s special features is the Orchestra La Scintilla, a period instrument ensemble consisting of musicians from the Philharmonia Zürich that enriches Zürich’s cultural scene with its opera performances on historic instruments. It emerged from the Orchestra’s long-standing collaboration with Nikolaus Harnoncourt. The Orchestra La Scintilla works with conductors like William Christie, Thomas Hengelbrock and Marc Minkowski. Under the direction of Ada Pesch it can be heard regularly in the world’s great concert halls, and performs with renowned soloists such as Cecilia Bartoli, whom it has accompanied on concert tours lasting several weeks.

Throughout the musical spectrum, from baroque to contemporary works, the Philharmonia Zürich consistently proves itself to be a stylistically confident, dedicated orchestra – whether in the pit or on the concert stage.



The “Aktientheater Zürich” is founded on Untere Zäune. Richard Wagner conducts there in the early 1850s, including performances of his own operas, Der fliegende Holländer and Tannhäuser. The “Orchesterverein” (Orchestral Association), a permanent ensemble of 31 professional musicians who play for the “Allgemeine Musikgesellschaft” (General Music Society) and the Aktientheater, is established the same year.

1868  The Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich is founded. The ensemble gives both symphony concerts and operatic performances until 1944.

1890  The “Aktientheater” burns down.

1891  A new “Stadttheater” is built (known as Zürich Opera House from 1964); conductors of the orchestra include Richard Strauss and Wilhelm Furtwängler.

1895  The new Tonhalle concert hall is built; the orchestra’s first Chief Conductor, Friedrich Hegar, and his friend Johannes Brahms spur the orchestra to musical greatness; later, under Chief Conductor Volkmar Andreae, the Tonhalle Orchestra collaborates closely with Ferruccio Busoni.

1944  The SRG (Swiss Radio Company) disbands its Zürich-based radio orchestra, whose members are incorporated into the Tonhalle Orchestra. Now consisting of 142 musicians, the orchestra is divided into a concert and a theatre ensemble, and is known as the Tonhalle and Theatre Orchestra (TTO) Zürich. Highlights in the history of the TTO’s theatre ensemble include the Monteverdi and Mozart cycles of the 1970s under Nikolaus Harnoncourt (conductor) and Jean-Pierre Ponnelle (director). The orchestra is strongly influenced by conductors such as Nello Santi (Musical Director from 1958 to 1969; permanent guest conductor since 1969) and Ferdinand Leitner (Senior Music Director at Zürich Opera House from 1969 to 1984).

1985  Ralf Weikert is appointed Chief Conductor of the TTO (until 1992); the orchestra is continuously enlarged under his aegis. The TTO is divided into the Tonhalle Orchestra and the Orchestra of Zürich Opera.

1994  The “La Scintilla” ensemble, which performs on original instruments, is established within the orchestra.

1995  Franz Welser-Möst is Principal Conductor until 2008 (General Music Director from 2005); guest conductors such as Riccardo Chailly, Christoph von Dohnányi, Vladimir Fedoseyev, John Eliot Gardiner, Valery Gergiev, Bernard Haitink, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Heinz Holliger, Zubin Mehta, Ingo Metzmacher, Georges Prêtre, Nello Santi, Ralf Weikert, and Ivan and Adam Fischer collaborate regularly with the orchestra.

Daniele Gatti becomes Music Director of the orchestra and stays in this position until 2012.

With the arrival of Andreas Homoki as Director of the Opera House and the inauguration of Fabio Luisi as its new General Music Director, the orchestra is rechristened: it is now known as the Philharmonia Zürich.





Philharmonia Records


Fabio Luisi

Fabio Luisi, General Music Director of Zürich Opera House, hails from Genoa. In 2011 he was appointed Principal Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, after having already acted as Principal Guest Conductor since September 2010. He has been Principal Conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra since 2005 (until 2013).

Fabio Luisi was previously General Music Director of the Staatskapelle Dresden and the Saxon State Opera (2007–2010), Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the MDR Symphony Orchestra Leipzig (1999–2007), Musical Director of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (1997–2002), with which he recorded numerous CDs (Poulenc, Respighi, Mahler, Liszt, a recording of all the symphonic works of Arthur Honegger, and with Verdi’s Jérusalem and Alzira two operas), Principal Conductor of the Tonkünstler Orchester Wien (Vienna, 1995–2000), and Artistic Director of the Graz Symphony Orchestra (1990–1996).

Luisi has performed as a guest conductor with the following internationally renowned orchestras: Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Concertgebouw Orchestra, Staatskapelle Berlin, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Philharmonia London, NHK Symphony Tokyo, Munich Philharmonic, Santa Cecilia Orchestra, Rome, and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. He is also a frequent guest at the Vienna State Opera, the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Staatsoper Berlin. In 2002 he débuted at the Salzburg Festival with Richard Strauss’s Die Liebe der Danae and returned there the following year with Die Ägyptische Helena by the same composer. Luisi gave his début in the United States in 2000 at a concert with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, followed by a new production of Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Lyric Opera Chicago. He conducted at the Metropolitan Opera for the first time in 2005 (Verdi’s Don Carlo).

In 2011, Fabio Luisi conducted new productions of Don Giovanni, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung (2012) at the Metropolitan Opera, as well as Das Rheingold, Ariadne auf Naxos and Rigoletto. He conducted the Met’s productions of Don Carlo and La Bohème during a tour of Japan. He débuted at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden with Aida, and at the Gran Teatre de Liceu in Barcelona with Falstaff. He also conducted a tour of the United States with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and conducted concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Concertgebouw Orchestra (with which he gave guest performances at the Gustav Mahler Festival in Leipzig), the Cleveland Orchestra, and a production of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci at the Teatro Carlo Felice in his hometown of Genoa. In the coming months he will conduct a new production of Massenet’s Manon at the Met, and give his début with this opera at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.

Luisi’s CD recordings include Verdi’s Aroldo, Bellini’s I puritani, as well as all the symphonies and the oratorio Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln by the forgotten Austrian composer Franz Schmidt. There are also recordings of various symphonic poems by Richard Strauss and a much-lauded recording (Echo Classics Prize 2009 for the best symphonic recording of the year) of Bruckner’s 9th Symphony with the Staatskapelle Dresden.


Members 15/16

General Music Director

Fabio Luisi

Personal Assistant to General Music Director Marie Wolfram-Zweig

Orchestra director

Heiner Madl

Orchestra authorised Achim Knobelspies
Orchestra office Sara Waegner

Library Anja Bühnemann, Dominique Ehrenbaum 

Orchestra technician Thomas Bossart, Andres Martinez, Sebastian Lange, Markus Metzig

1. Violin

Concertmeister Bartlomiej Niziol, Ada Pesch, Hanna Weinmeister, Keisuke Okazaki, Xiaoming Wang, Wen-Chun Lin
Jonathan Allen, Josiane Clematide, Franziska Eichenberger, Juliana Georgieva, Lisa Gustafson, Betül Henseler, Ulrike Jacoby, Martin Lehmann, Judit Morvay, Jakub Nicze, Tatjana Pak, Seraina Pfenninger, Dominique Schiess, Janet van Hasselt, Carolin Forster Borioli*, Vera Landtwing Schramm*, Julia Munoz Toledo*, Daniele D'Andria**, Alexander Kuznetsov**, Mateusz Slawomir Smol**

2. Violin

Solo Anahit Kurtikyan, Eoin Andersen*, Yuko Arakaki-Krachler, Michael Salm Hermann Alexejew, Marianne Borling, Andrea Bossow, Cornelia Brandis, Martina Goldmann, Regine Guthauser, Daniel Kagerer, Nadezhda Korshakova, Anne-Frédérique Léchaire, Sibylle Matzinger-Franzke, Ursula Meienberg, Mikolaj Tomaszewski, Marina Yakovleva Häfliger, Chen Yu, Daniele D'Andria**, Alexander Kuznetsov**, Mateusz Slawomir Smol**


Solo Karen Forster, Valérie Szlàvik, Sebastian Eyb, Rumjana Naydenova
Louis Chaintreuil, Maria Clément, Daniel Hess, Florian Mohr, Natalia Mosca, Juliet Shaxson, Martina Zimmermann, Hugo Bollschweiler*, Artur Wieczerzynski**


Solo Claudius Herrmann, Massimiliano Martinelli, Xavier Pignat, Christine Theus
Luzius Gartmann, Alexander Gropper, Christof Mohr, Barbara Uta Oehm, Daniel Pezzotti, Andreas Plattner, Seiji Yokota**


Solo Viorel Alexandru, Dariusz Mizera, Ruslan Lutsyk, Roman Patkoló
Wolfgang Hessler, Hayk Khachatryan, Dieter Lange, Bruno Peier, Karolina Tukaj**


Solo Maria Goldschmidt, Maurice Heugen, Rute Daniela Pereira Fernandes
Andrea Kollé, Pamela Stahel, Thomas Voelcker, Nathalie Hérouan**


Solo Bernhard Heinrichs, Philipp Mahrenholz, Samuel Castro Bastos
Maria Alba Carmona Tobella, Clément Noël, Martin Danek**


Solo Rita Meier, Robert Pickup, Nina Sara Höhn
Heinrich Mätzener, Filipa Margarida Sacramento Nunes, Orfeas Hiratos**, Livio Russi**


Solo Urs Dengler, Anne Gerstenberger, Artan Hürsever
Elisabeth Göring, Marc Jacot, Baris Önel**


Solo Glen Borling, László Szlávik, Tomas Gallart
Hanna Rasche, Edward Deskur, Lionel Pointet, Andrea Siri, Xiaoxin Liu**


Solo William Nulty, Laurent Tinguely, Evgeny Ruzin
Albert Benz, Paul Muff, Marco Antonio Carneiro da Silva**


Solo David García, Sergio Zordan
Weston Adolphus Sprott*, Benjamin Green, René Meister, Tobias Lang**


Ricardo Lopes Sotomaior Carvalhoso


Norbert Himstedt, Renata Walczyna


Hans-Peter Achberger, Didier Chevallier, Michael Guntern, Dominic Hermann, Sergi Sempere Ramos**


Julie Palloc, Una Prelle


Kateryna Tereshchenko**


*Ad interim




Philharmonic Concerts 15/16

Season 15/16


This season’s Philharmonic Concerts will focus on great 19th- and 20th-century Russian composers, combining central works of the repertoire such as Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto or his Symphony No. 5 with seldom heard masterpieces like Dmitri Shostakovich’s large-scale 10th Symphony. Besides our General Music Director Fabio Luisi, who will conduct three of the seven evenings, the concerts – all of which will be given at the Opera House – will also showcase young conductors and solo instrumentalists on their way to really great careers. The Venezuelan Rafael Payare, for example, is one of the current shooting stars on the conducting scene, and the Russian pianist Anna Vinnitskaya, who lives in Hamburg, has stepped up to the world’s concert podiums since winning the prestigious “Reine Elisabeth” music competition in Brussels five years ago.

The Philharmonic Concerts are supported by Evelyn and Herbert Axelrod

  1. Bruckner

    1. Philharmonisches Konzert
    27.09.2015 - 20:00
  2. Brahms / Schostakowitsch

    2. Philharmonisches Konzert
    29.11.2015 - 18:00
  3. Strawinsky / Tschaikowsky / Prokofjew

    3. Philharmonisches Konzert
    13.12.2015 - 20:00
  4. Haydn / Mozart / Beethoven

    4. Philharmonisches Konzert / 1. La Scintilla-Konzert
    20.12.2015 - 11:15
  5. Prokofjew / Rachmaninow

    5. Philharmonisches Konzert
    21.02.2016 - 20:00
  6. Gedenkkonzert Nikolaus Harnoncourt

    6. Philharmonisches Konzert
    17.04.2016 - 11:15
  7. Rimski-Korsakow / Adolphe

    7. Philharmonisches Konzert
    10.07.2016 - 11:15

Philharmonic concerts

Saison 16/17

One of the highlights of this year’s concert season will be the collaboration between the Philharmonia Zurich and the violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. The programme, featuring works by Bruch and Brahms, can be heard both in Zurich and on tour. The Orchestra “La Scintilla” will begin the season with the celebrated countertenor Franco Fagioli and a virtuoso Rossini programme. General Music Director Fabio Luisi was particularly anxious to stage the little-known Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke  (The Song of Love and Death of the Cadet Christoph Rilke) by the Swiss composer Frank Martin. Rainer Maria Rilke’s youthfully restless verses will be interpreted by the contralto Okka von der Damerau. Other concerts are devoted to the solo violin: InMo Yang, winner of the 2015 Paganini Competition, will be playing Paganini’s First Concerto, and Arabella Steinbacher the moving violin concerto by Alban Berg.

The Philharmonic Concerts are supported by Evelyn and Herbert Axelrod


  1. Galakonzert zu Nello Santis 85. Geburtstag

    1. Philharmonic Concert
    23.10.2016 - 19:30
  2. Schubert / Martin

    2. Philharmonic Concert
    18.12.2016 - 19:00
  3. Rossini

    3. Philharmonic Concert / 2. La Scintilla-Concert
    29.01.2017 - 18:00
  4. Berg / Zemlinsky

    4. Philharmonic Concert
    19.02.2017 - 19:30
  5. Bruch / Brahms

    5. Philharmonic Concert
    14.05.2017 - 20:00
  6. Paganini / Strauss

    6. Philharmonic Concert
    15.07.2017 - 19:00

Guest performances Philharmonia Zürich

Fabio Luisi, Conductor
Anne-Sophie Mutter, Violin
Philharmonia Zürich

«Nostalghia – In Memory of Andrei Tarkovskij»
for Solo violin and String orchestra

Violin concert Nr. 1 g-Minor op. 26

Symphony Nr. 4 e-Minor op. 98

12 May 2O17

16 May 2O17

17 May 2O17

18 May 2O17

20 May 2O17

21 May 2O17

22 May 2O17

23 May 2O17


Photo Gallery

Photographed by Monika Rittershaus and Frank Blaser