The history of the ST.PETERSBURG SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA began in 1931 when a small ensemble was organized at Leningrad Radio. Shortly after that, the ensemble grew to the size of a symphony orchestra. The orchestra, performing in the live air format and collaborating with many conductors, called for constant reinvigoration of a program and acquired flexibility in its performing manner. During the World War II Siege of Leningrad, the orchestra of Leningrad Radio was the only symphony orchestra remaining in the blockaded city. In - August 1942, conducted by Karl Eliasberg, this orchestra played the historic Leningrad première of the Seventh Symphony by Shostakovich in the Philharmonia.
In the summer of 1953 it became the second orchestra of Leningrad Philharmonia. Tours were held for the first time, including tours abroad; in 1962-1963 a series of composers concerts were complemented with I. Stravinsky and B. Britten. The orchestra gained fame in the nation as one of the best orchestras to accompany soloists, performing with Van Cliburn, Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, Yehudi Menuhin and David Oistrakh. In 1968 right after PhD studies at Leningrad conservatory, Yuri Temirkanov joined the orchestra. His activity is related to the rapid growth in repertoire and important tours.
In 1977 the orchestra was taken over by its today's artistic director Alexander Dmitriev. The collaboration of this conductor with the orchestra continues for more than thirty years. It is the first time in the history of this orchestra that an alliance lasts for so long. These years are marked by the awarding of the honorary title "academic orchestra" to the team. The orchestra has toured Europe, Asia, America. It took part in prestigious international festivals ("Arts Square", "Stars of the White Nights", "Prague Autumn", "Swansea", "Canterbury"). The history of the orchestra's performances with guest conductors, composers and soloists is as abundant as ever. The discography of the team was enriched with recordings of all Beethoven's and Schubert's symphonies, and Tchaikovsky`s, Rachmaninov`s, Ravel`s and Britten`s compositions. During the ensuing years in St. Petersburg, the orchestra presented premières of music by Mahler, Debussy, Ravel, Scriabin, Tippet, Orff, Petrov, Slonimsky, Falik, and Pärt. Slonimsky dedicated his Twelfth Symphony to the orchestra · at the concert dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Yuri Falik's birthday the orchestra played the premiere of his Third Symphony.
The orchestra, participated in debut concert of the Conservatory student Andrei Petrov in 1954, half a century later the ensemble played at the first concert in memory of the late composer. The Leningrad Symphony by Shostakovich still plays a significant part in its repertoire. In 2004 it was played in honor of the 60th anniversary of the reversal of blockade. On the 9th of May, 2005 (Victory Day) it was played in the Royal Albert Hall under the baton of Maxim Shostakovich - son of the composer.
He graduated from Glinka Choir College and the Leningrad State Conservatory, where he studied choir conducting (prof. E. Kudryavtseva) and musical theory (prof.Y. Tyulin). After that Dmitriev enrolled in a graduate course of symphonic conducting, taught by Nikolai Rabinovich. For ten years (1961·1971) he led the Symphony Orchestra of Karelian Radio and Television and at that stage he won the 2nd National Conducting Competition. Then he took an internship at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, Austria under H.Swarovski and K.Osterreicher, whereupon E. Mravinsky invited Dmitriev to join his highly respected Leningrad Symphony Orchestra. In 1971·1977 Dmitriev led the Leningrad Small Opera and Ballet Theatre (Mikhailovsky Theatre today). In 1977, Dmitriev became chief conductor of the St.Petersburg Academic Symphony Orchestra.
Alexander Dmitriev is Professor of the Rimsky·Korsakov St. Petersburg state conservatory (among his pupils: A.Boreiko, V.Altschuler, A.Anikhanov, A.Steinlucht). For many years he has led the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra in Norway. Among his awards are the title of People's artist of the USSR and Winner of the State Prize of the Russian Federation, "Order of Honour of Cultural and Art Merit, in recognition of his longstanding achievements", Honorary symbol "For Merit for Saint·Petersburg" and the Prize of the St. Petersburg Government in Literature, Art and Architecture·2009, in "Musical Performing Art".