Sir Thomas Beecham founded the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 1932 with assistance from arts patrons Robert Mayer and Samuel Courtauld.
Consisting then of 106 players and giving more than 70 concerts yearly, the ensemble immediately established itself as a major orchestra. On October 7, 1932, its inaugural concert took place at Queen's Hall, with Beecham conducting. The orchestra began making recordings in 1933, but their number remained scarce until the 1950s. In 1936, the LPO made a highly successful tour of Germany, giving one concert in Berlin in the presence of Adolf Hitler. Financial difficulties beset the orchestra by 1939, prompting Beecham to help raise money. Soon, however, he resigned and relocated to the United States for a stint with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, though he maintained ties to the orchestra. Adrian Boult, Malcolm Sargent, and Basil Cameron shared podium duties until 1945. In 1947, the LPO formed the London Philharmonic Choir and named Eduard van Beinum, long associated with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, as principal conductor. Van Beinum had a successful but brief reign and was succeeded in 1951 by Adrian Boult. Under his leadership, the LPO began recording heavily and would continue to do so thereafter, becoming one of the most heavily recorded ensembles among the world's major orchestras, with hundreds of LP and (then later) CD titles issued by various major labels. American William Steinberg succeeded Boult in 1958, but served only two seasons, leaving the orchestra once more without a principal conductor. John Pritchard was appointed his successor in 1962 and effected many important changes in the orchestra personnel and repertory. In 1966, Bernard Haitink succeeded Pritchard and had a tenure longer than any previous or subsequent conductor, serving until 1979. Georg Solti was appointed principal conductor that year, holding the post until 1983, at which time he took on emeritus status, thereby maintaining ties to the orchestra. East German conductor Klaus Tennstedt became principal conductor in 1983. Another, but far younger, German conductor, Franz Welser-Möst, succeeded him in 1990 and led an often controversial tenure. Still, his concert tour of South Africa was a great success, as were several recordings. Kurt Masur, took the reins as principal conductor in September 2000. As the LPO marked its 75th anniversary in 2007, Vladimir Jurowski was named as the twelfth Principal Conductor.
The LPO regularly performs in Royal Festival Hall, London.