The Los Angeles Philharmonic was founded in 1919 by Los Angeles multi-millionaire and avid amateur musician William Andrews Clark, Jr. The orchestra's first music director was Walter Henry Rothwell. The next year the Philharmonic moved into The Temple, a church built in 1907 and renamed Philharmonic Auditorium. Despite the name change, the hall remained a place of worship, and the orchestra had to plan its activities around those of the church. The Philharmonic benefited from the attraction that California held for European expatriates; following Rothwell, its music directors were Georg Schnéevoigt (1927-1929), Artur Rodzinski (1929-1933), Otto Klemperer
(1933-1939), Alfred Wallenstein (1943-1956), and Eduard van Beinum
In 1945 Leopold Stokowski
had founded the Hollywood Bowl Symphony
for the summer concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, a striking art deco outdoor concert shell in a lovely natural amphitheater. The Los Angeles Philharmonic soon replaced it as the regular orchestra for this series, becoming a beloved part of the city's public cultural life. In 1962 Zubin Mehta
began his long and productive tenure as music director, which lasted until 1978. He was succeeded by Carlo Maria Giulini
(1978-1984), and in turn by André Previn
(1985-1989). The LA Phil's music director from 1992 to 2009 was Esa-Pekka Salonen
, the exciting young Finnish conductor and composer whose programming was built around the great established classics of the 20th century, new music, and a solid representation of established repertoire. Gustavo Dudamel
assumed leadership of the orchestra in 2009.
In 1964 the LA Phil had moved into a new home, the Dorothy Chandler Music Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles. The hall was shared with the Civic Light Opera Association and other concert and theater companies, a situation that grew uncomfortable and limiting for the Philharmonic. A new permanent home for the orchestra, Walt Disney Hall, featuring a striking design by Frank Gehry and titanium and brushed stainless steel exterior, was inaugurated in October 2003.
The LA Phil gives an annual 30-week winter season. More than 250 concerts are either performed or presented at its two iconic venues: Walt Disney Hall and the Hollywood Bowl. These presentations represent a breadth and depth unrivaled by other orchestras or cultural institutions. With a strong commitment to contemporary music from its earliest days, the Philharmonic remains noted for the extraordinary number and variety of new works it has commissioned.