The New York Philharmonic plays a leading cultural role in New York City, the United States, and the world.

Each season the Orchestra connects with up to 50 million music lovers through live concerts in New York and around the world; international broadcasts on television, radio, and online; recordings; and education programs. Jaap van Zweden began his tenure as the 26th Music Director of the New York Philharmonic in the 2018–19 season. In 2019–20 he and the Philharmonic reaffirmed their vital commitments to serving as New York’s orchestra and to championing new music. Maestro van Zweden conducted repertoire ranging from four World Premieres — by Philip Glass, Tania León, Ellen Reid, and Nina C. Young — to symphonic cornerstones. He also presided over Project 19, marking the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment with commissions by 19 women composers, and Mahler’s New York: A Digital Festival, examining the composer / conductor who spent time in New York as the Philharmonic’s tenth Music Director. Other highlights include a new production of Schoenberg’s Erwartung and Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle and Jaap van Zweden’s first Young People’s Concert. Jaap van Zweden succeeds musical leaders including Alan Gilbert (2009–17); Lorin Maazel (2002–09); Kurt Masur (Music Director 1991–2002; named Music Director Emeritus in 2002); Zubin Mehta (1978–91); Pierre Boulez (1971–77); Leonard Bernstein (appointed Music Director in 1958; named Laureate Conductor in 1969); Arturo Toscanini (1928–36); and Gustav Mahler (1909–11).

American-born Ureli Corelli Hill, founder and first Conductor of the New York Philharmonic

As a champion of the new music of its time, the Philharmonic has commissioned and / or premiered works by leading composers from every era since its founding. Highlights include the World Premieres of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, From the New World (1893), Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 (1909), Gershwin’s Concerto in F (1925), and Berio’s Sinfonia (1968), as well as the US Premieres of Beethoven’s Symphonies No. 3 (1843), No. 4 (1849), No. 7 (1843), No. 8 (1844), and No. 9 (1846) and Brahms’s Symphony No. 4 (1886). Recent premieres / commissions include John Adams’s Pulitzer Prize– and Grammy Award–winning On the Transmigration of Souls (2002), dedicated to the victims of 9/11, and Scheherazade.2 — Dramatic symphony for violin and orchestra (2015); Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Piano Concerto (2007); Wynton Marsalis’s The Jungle (Symphony No. 4) (2016); Julia Wolfe’s Fire in my mouth (2019); and David Lang’s prisoner of the state (2019). The two new-music series introduced in Jaap van Zweden’s inaugural season — Nightcap and Sound ON returned in 2019–20 with late-night concerts curated by today’s composers and three evening chamber concerts performed by Philharmonic musicians; The Marie-Josée Kravis Creative Partner Nadia Sirota is host of both series and curator of Sound ON.

A resource for its community and the world, the New York Philharmonic complements annual free concerts across the city — including the Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer — with Philharmonic Free Fridays, which offers free tickets to young people ages 13 to 26, and Phil the Hall, low-cost concerts introduced in Jaap van Zweden’s inaugural season. The Orchestra has continued its famed Young People’s Concerts (ages 6–12), which began in 1924, and subsequently developed Very Young People’s Concerts (ages 3–6) and Young People’s Concerts for Schools (grades 3–12). The Philharmonic reaches thousands of students annually through Philharmonic Schools — an in-school program in which Philharmonic Teaching Artists guide students in how to listen, perform, and compose music — and the New York Philharmonic Very Young Composers Program — an after-school program in which students in New York and cities around the world learn to create their own music. Committed to developing tomorrow’s leading orchestral musicians, the Philharmonic offers training for pre-college students by Philharmonic musicians in partnership with institutions in New York committed to strong orchestra programs, including the Harmony Program, All-City High School Orchestra and Concert Band, and UpBeat NYC; the Shanghai Orchestra Academy and Partnership; and a multiyear residency partnership with the University Musical Society of the University of Michigan. In October 2019 the Orchestra is in residence at Oklahoma State University (OSU) performing the inaugural concerts of the new McKnight Center for the Performing Arts on the OSU campus in Stillwater.

Long a leader in American musical life, the Philharmonic has become renowned around the globe, having appeared in 435 cities in 63 countries on five continents. In October 2009 the Orchestra, led by then Music Director Alan Gilbert, made its debut in Hanoi, Vietnam, in the Hanoi Opera House. In February 2008 the musicians, led by then Music Director Lorin Maazel, gave a historic performance in Pyongyang, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — the first visit there by an American orchestra and an event that was watched around the world, and for which the Philharmonic received the 2008 Common Ground Award for Cultural Diplomacy. Other historic tours have included the groundbreaking 1930 tour of Europe, led by Toscanini; the first tour of South America and Latin America, in 1958; the first tour of the USSR, in 1959 with Leonard Bernstein; the 1984 Asia Tour, including the first tour of India, with Zubin Mehta; and the 1998 Asia Tour, with the first performances in mainland China, with Kurt Masur. In 2012 the Orchestra became an International Associate of London’s Barbican Centre; extended residencies in 2012, 2015, and 2017 featured signature Philharmonic projects, including London editions of Young People’s Concerts and Philharmonic Very Young Composers.

The New York Philharmonic has made more than 2,000 recordings since 1917. In 2018 it launched a partnership with Decca Gold, Universal Music Group’s newly established US classical music label; the most recent releases are David Lang’s prisoner of the state (2020) and Julia Wolfe’s Fire in my mouth (2019), both conducted by Jaap van Zweden. A media pioneer, the Philharmonic began radio broadcasts in 1922 and is currently represented by The New York Philharmonic This Week — the award-winning series syndicated nationally 52 weeks per year and available on On television, in the 1950s and ’60s the Orchestra inspired a generation through Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts on CBS. Its television presence has continued with annual appearances on Live From Lincoln Center on PBS, and in 2003 it made history as the first orchestra ever to make a solo appearance on the Grammy awards, one of the most-watched television events worldwide. In 2006 the New York Philharmonic was the first major American orchestra to offer downloadable concerts, recorded live, and followed this with a self-produced digital recording series. In September 2016 the Philharmonic, which has the most Facebook fans of any American orchestra, produced its first-ever Facebook Live concert broadcast, and reached more than one million online viewers through three broadcasts that season alone. In March 2020, in response to the cancellations of concerts due the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philharmonic launched NY Phil Plays On, a portal hosting video and audio of performances, free, on its website and social media platforms.

The Orchestra also shares its trove of music history free online through the ever-expanding New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives, which comprises more than three million pages of documents, including every printed program since 1842 and scores and parts marked by Philharmonic musicians and Music Directors such as Gustav Mahler and Leonard Bernstein. One of the world’s most important orchestral research collections, the New York Philharmonic Archives also presents exhibits in David Geffen Hall for concertgoers to enjoy. An interactive exhibit introduced last season features video clips of Music Directors and guest conductors, stories of pioneering women in Philharmonic history, recordings, backstories of music that the Philharmonic has premiered, a behind-the-scenes look at planning tours around the world, and Orchestra members’ immigration stories. Audience members can also see Bernstein’s composing pencils, batons and scores used by notable conductors, Philharmonic records, and a Grammy Award.

Founded in 1842 by local musicians led by American-born Ureli Corelli Hill, the New York Philharmonic is the oldest symphony orchestra in the United States, and one of the oldest in the world. The roster of composers and conductors who have led the Philharmonic includes such historic figures as Theodore Thomas, Antonín Dvořák, Gustav Mahler (Music Director, 1909–11), Otto Klemperer, Richard Strauss, Willem Mengelberg (Music Director, 1922–30), Wilhelm Furtwängler, Arturo Toscanini (Music Director, 1928–36), Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland, Bruno Walter (Music Advisor, 1947–49), Dimitri Mitropoulos (Music Director, 1949–58), Klaus Tennstedt, George Szell (Music Advisor, 1969–70), and Erich Leinsdorf.