...work with no other orchestra has ever given me as much satisfaction as my work as soloist
and conductor for the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra.
29 August, 1991
In April of 1984, Waldemar Dąbrowski, director of the St. I. Witkiewicz Studio Centre for the Arts in Warsaw and Franciszek Wybrańczyk, director of the then extant Polish Chamber Orchestra invited the legendary violinist Sir Yehudi Menuhin to perform in Poland as soloist and conductor. To match the exigencies of the planned repertoire, the orchestra increased the number of its members, inviting renowned musicians from all over Poland to perform together. The ensemble’s initial concerts under the direction of Yehudi Menuhin were enthusiastically applauded by audiences and praised by critics, while Lord Menuhin himself did not hesitate to accept Waldemar Dąbrowski’s and Franciszek Wybrańczyk’s proposal to become the first guest conductor of the newly established symphony orchestra named Sinfonia Varsovia.
The Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra was soon invited to play concerts in the United States and Canada, with more invitations to follow – from Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Finland, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Switzerland and Greece, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Sinfonia Varsovia has performed in the world’s most celebrated concert halls, including New York’s Carnegie Hall, Théatre des Champs Elysées in Paris, the Barbican Centre in London, Vienna’s Musikverein, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Suntory Hall in Tokyo and Herkulessaal in Munich.
The Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra played at renowned festivals in Salzburg, Gstaad (the Yehudi Menuhin Festival), Aix-en-Provence, Montreux, La Roque d’Anthéron, Schleswig-Holstein, the Pablo Casals Festival, Würzburg, Alte Oper (Frankfurt am Mein), Beethovenfest Festival in Bonn, La Folle Journée, La Roque d’Antheron, Festival de Musique de Menton, Queen Elisabeth Musical Voyage, the Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival, the Warsaw Autumn festival and the Chain festival, devoted to Witold Lutosławski.
The Orchestra has a very particular relationship with the Chopin and His Europe Festival, at which it has been performing since the very first edition of the event.
Since 2010, the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra has been organising the La Folle Journée Festival in Warsaw together with René Martin, director of the French C.R.E.A. association.
Of special note is the Franciszek Wybrańczyk Sinfonia Varsovia To Its City Festival. This project was initiated in 2001 by Franciszek Wybrańczyk, the founder and long-time Director of the orchestra. The festival is accessible to the public at large and it has become a landmark on the cultural landscape of Warsaw, becoming a favourite among music-lovers of the capital of Poland. The festival aims to showcase the greatest works of music literature as performed by the Sinfonia Varsovia with famous soloists and conductors.
The orchestra’s repertoire is exceptionally extensive, ranging from 18th century works to contemporary compositions. The orchestra has played Polish and world premieres.
Sinfonia Varsovia has performed with many distinguished conductors, including Claudio Abbado, Charles Dutoit, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Valery Gergiev, Jacek Kaspszyk, Emmanuel Krivine, Witold Lutosławski, Lorin Maazel, Paul McCreesh, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Yehudi Menuhin, Krzysztof Penderecki and soloists as Piotr Anderszewski, Martha Argerich, Yuri Bashmet, Boris Berezovsky, Teresa Berganza, Rafał Blechacz, Frank Braley, Alfred Brendel, Gautier Capuçon, Renaud Capuçon, Piotr Paleczny, José Carreras, Placido Domingo, Augustin Dumay, Stephen Hough, Sharon Kam, Kiri Te Kanawa, Nigel Kennedy, Gidon Kremer, Radu Lupu, Albrecht Mayer, Mischa Maisky, Shlomo Mintz, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Olga Pasiecznik, Murray Perahia, Maria João Pires, Ivo Pogorelić, Vadim Repin, Mstislav Rostropovich, Henryk Szeryng, Andreas Vollenweider, Christian Zacharias and Frank Peter Zimmermann.
Sinfonia Varsovia has made numerous recordings on compact disc and for radio and television. The orchestra boasts a discography of more than 290 albums, recorded for famous international labels: Decca, Denon Nippon Columbia, Deutsche Grammophon, EMI, Naïve, Naxos, Sony, Virgin Classics and for Polish labels, including BeArTon, CD Accord, NIFC, Polskie Nagrania and Polskie Radio. Many of these recordings received prestigious music awards, including the Diapason d’Or, Diapason Découverte, Grand Prix du Disque and the Polish Fryderyk award, which the Orchestra received nine times.
Krzysztof Penderecki became the orchestra’s musical director in 1997 and its artistic director in July 2003, a position he still holds, often also working together with the ensemble as its conductor.
In 2008-2012 the post of the orchestra’s musical director was held by the world-famous French conductor Marc Minkowski. In 2004, Franciszek Wybrańczyk handed over the duties of the director of Sinfonia Varsovia to Janusz Marynowski - his assistant and long-time musician in the orchestra.
Until 31 December 2007, the orchestra operated from the St. I. Witkiewicz Studio Art Centre in Warsaw.
On 1 January 2008, the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra became a council cultural institution. The Orchestra’s coordinator is the Capital City Of Warsaw.
In 2010 the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra has received a new home at 272 Grochowska Street in Warsaw’s Praga District. That year, the authorities of the city of Warsaw have announced an international competition for the design of a concert hall and architectural development of the Orchestra’s new headquarters. The winning design was produced by Atelier Thomas Pucher of Graz (Austria). In 2015, in the presence of the President of the capital city of Warsaw, Ms. Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, architect Thomas Pucher and Janusz Marynowski, director of the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra signed a contract for the delivery of design documentation for a new concert hall for Sinfonia Varsovia and for the development of the property at 272 Grochowska Street. The first concert in the new facility is to take place in Spring 2024.