The Turku Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the oldest in the world, and the oldest in Finland. It was founded in 1790, when Mozart
, and Beethoven
were all alive, and played the music of all three during their lifetimes. It was a private organization through most of its existence. It was financially re-organized in 1927, when it became a service of the municipal government.
At that time the orchestra's membership was down to twenty-seven men. Since then, it has been enlarged several times to comprise seventy-three permanent members. This makes it the fourth largest orchestra in Finland but a relatively small orchestra by international standards. It has a reputation for good playing. Its size makes it most suitable for Classical-era music, works of the more conservative Romantic-era composers, and much music of the post-Romantic era.
It ordinarily plays eighteen classical programs a year. In addition, it plays a regular series of chamber orchestra concerts using portions of its personnel, plus popular concerts, special events such as Christmas, Labor Day, and Good Friday concerts, children's and students' concerts, and tours. In addition, it functions as the orchestra for the Turku Opera Association productions at the Turku City Theater.
It has recorded for the Finlandia and Naxos labels. Its recording of Sibelius' early choral symphony, Kullervo, on Naxos quickly sold over 30,000 copies worldwide, a large quantity for a specialized classical release.