Sinfonia Varsovia is one of Poland's most important symphony orchestras and has attracted a large roster of both soloists and guest conductors. The Sinfonia has issued an unusually large catalog of recordings, numbering more than 270 releases on labels in Poland and elsewhere.
Sinfonia Varsovia was founded in 1984; Varsovia was the Latin name for the orchestra's home city of Warsaw. The group has an unusual origin in that it expanded from a chamber group, the Polish Chamber Orchestra (Polska Orkiestra Kameralna). Sinfonia Varsovia came together after Polish Chamber Orchestra director Franciszek Wybranczyk and art center manager Waldemar Dabrowski invited star violinist Yehudi Menuhin to Warsaw to perform as a soloist and conduct the orchestra. Additional players from around Poland were brought on board for the Menuhin concerts, which were successful both critically and commercially, and led the orchestra to continue at the larger size under the new Sinfonia Varsovia name. Menuhin accepted the title of guest conductor and continued to appear frequently with the group, conducting it in recorded cycles of Schubert (1994) and Beethoven (1998) symphonies. Wybranczyk served as conductor from 1984 until 2004 when he was succeeded by Janusz Marynowski. In 2003, composer Krzysztof Penderecki became the Sinfonia's artistic director, remaining in the position until his death in 2020. The orchestra has also sometimes maintained the post of music director, held by Penderecki from 1997 to 2008, and Marc Minkowski from 2008 to 2012. Sinfonia Varsovia has attracted guest conductors of the highest rank, including Lorin Maazel, Claudio Abbado, and Valery Gergiev, among many others. On the long list of internationally prominent soloists who have appeared with the Sinfonia are Alfred Brendel, Gidon Kremer, and Murray Perahia. Sinfonia Varsovia maintains its own Orchestra Studium to train young orchestral musicians, and indeed, the group's membership has been predominantly youthful over the years.
Sinfonia Varsovia is known internationally for its recordings, which began in 1991 with an album on the CD Accord label devoted to works of Witold Lutoslawski. The orchestra has recorded an exceptionally wide variety of music from the 16th century to the present, with a slight emphasis on Polish music. Sinfonia Varsovia has also recorded for Apex, Albany Music, Toccata Classics, and many other small labels. In 2017, the group was signed to Warner Classics and released the album 39'45. The group has continued to record for Warner Classics, issuing releases with innovative conceptual programs such as Möbius in 2019.
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