The Orchestra of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, founded in 1928 by Vittorio Gui under the name of Stabile Orchestrale Fiorentina, has been engaged right from the early days in numerous concerts and operas in the Teatro Comunale in Florence. In 1933 the Orchestra contributed to the creation of what is the one of the oldest and most prestigious music festivals in Europe, second only to the Salzburg Festival, and it is from the Festival del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino that the Orchestra took its name. Gui was replaced as Resident Conductor by Mario Rossi, Piero Bellugi and Bruno Bartoletti. High points of the Orchestra's history have included the resident conductorship of Riccardo Muti (1969-'81) and Zubin Mehta; Mehta has been Principal Conductor since 1985, and season after season heads important symphonic productions and highly-prestigious tours. The Orchestra also later established a privileged relationship with Myung-Whun Chung and Semyon Bychkov, who have been Principal Guest Conductors since 1987 and 1992 respectively.
The Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino enjoys a superb reputation throughout the music world, and in the course of its history has been headed by some of the finest conductors of the time, such as De Sabata, Guarnieri, Marinuzzi, Gavazzeni, Serafin, Furtwängler, Walter, Klemperer, Dobrowen, Perlea, Erich Kleiber, Rodzinski, Mitropoulos, Karajan, Bernstein, Schippers, Claudio Abbado, Maazel, Giulini, Prêtre, Sawallisch, Carlos Kleiber, Solti, Chailly, Sinopoli and Ozawa. Illustrious composers have also conducted their own works for the orchestra, sometimes for the very first performance; names include Richard Strauss, Pietro Mascagni, Ildebrando Pizzetti, Paul Hindemith, Igor Stravinsky, Goffredo Petrassi, Luigi Dallapiccola, Krzysztof Penderecki and Luciano Berio.
Since the Fifties, the Orchestra has made numerous musical recordings, many of which have received prestigious radio and television awards, including the Grammy Award. Among the Orchestra's most recent successes are its third tour of Japan, headed by the Honorary Conductor for Life, Zubin Mehta, and the tour including Warsaw, the Musikverein in Vienna, Frankfurt and Baden-Baden, which received thunderous applause. On the 80th anniversary of its foundation, the Orchestra received the Fiorino d'Oro award from the City of Florence for outstanding artistic achievement.
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