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Columbia University Press
New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra
dating from 1842, the oldest symphony orchestra in the United States. Its present name derives from the merger (1928) of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra with the New York Symphony Orchestra. The Philharmonic Society of New York was formed (1842) and gave its first concert that year. Ureli Corelli Hill, its first president, was also its first conductor (1842—47) and a violinist. The first permanent conductor, Carl Bergmann, was appointed in 1865 and remained until 1876. Other important conductors were Leopold Damrosch (1876—77), Theodore Thomas (1877—78; 1879—91), Anton Seidl (1891—98), Walter Damrosch (1902—3), Gustav Mahler (1909—11), and Josef Stransky (1911—23). In 1921 the Philharmonic merged with the National Symphony Orchestra, whose conductor, J. W. Mengelberg, remained with the Philharmonic until 1930. After engagements as guest conductor, Wilhelm Furtwängler was appointed (1925) permanent conductor. Arturo Toscanini was his successor (1928—36).

The New York Symphony Orchestra–the other component of the merged Philharmonic-Symphony–was founded by Leopold Damrosch in 1878 and conducted by him until 1885. His son Walter, who succeeded him, pioneered the performance of new works and brought symphonic music to many American communities for the first time. In 1920 this orchestra toured Europe, the first American group to do so.

After the 1928 merger Toscanini conducted until he was succeeded by John Barbirolli (1937—43), Artur Rodzinsky (1943—47), Bruno Walter (1947—49), Leopold Stokowski (1949—50), and Dmitri Mitropoulos (1949—58). Leonard Bernstein became musical director in 1958, retiring in 1969. He was succeeded by Pierre Boulez in 1971, who was, in turn, succeeded by Zubin Mehta (1978—91), Kurt Masur (1991—2002), and Lorin Maazel (2002—).

Now commonly known as the New York Philharmonic, the orchestra plays summer concerts of a more popular nature in New York City's parks. It has made many recordings and toured in many parts of the world. In 1962 the orchestra moved into Philharmonic Hall, now Avery Fisher Hall, at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and it now plays some 200 concerts each year.

See H. Shanet, Philharmonia: A History of New York's Orchestra (1974).