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National Philharmonic Orchestra

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There are two orchestras named The National Philharmonic Orchestra.

(1) The National Philharmonic Orchestra is a British orchestra created exclusively for recording purposes. It was founded by RCA producer Charles Gerhardt and orchestra leader Sidney Sax due in part to the requirements of the Reader’s Digest recording project.

Before settling on this name, the orchestra began operation in 1964 using a variety of names including RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra and the London Promenade (the latter consisting largely of London Philharmonic Orchestra personnel). It was incorporated as the National Philharmonic Orchestra in 1970. Musicians from London’s huge talent pool were contracted by Gerhardt and Sax. The orchestra ceased to be an exclusive RCA recording organization at the same time that Gerhardt replaced Sax as the concertmaster. Decca Records began using the orchestra in March 1974. This was for a Phase 4 Stereo recording of the Yellow River Piano Concerto conducted by Elgar Howarth. Columbia Records began using the orchestra in 1975.

Such conductors as Leopold Stokowski, Richard Bonynge, and Charles Gerhardt made recordings with it. Bonynge recorded all three of Tchaikovsky’s ballets with it for Decca, and Gerhardt made a series of stereo recordings of Hollywood film music with it for RCA Victor. The orchestra has been featured on the soundtrack of many films, and, with Kenneth Schermerhorn conducting, it was also heard on the soundtrack of Baryshnikov’s production The Nutcracker, a staging of Tchaikovsky’s ballet which became a television classic, after being presented live onstage. The orchestra also provided the music for the stage production.

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