The Athens State Orchestra is the oldest orchestral ensemble in Greece. Founded in the late 19th century as the Athens Conservatory Symphony Orchestra, it was known by various names and operated in a number of different forms before becoming the Orchestra we know today and giving its first concert as the Athens State Orchestra on 28 February 1943.
Since its foundation, the Athens State Orchestra has given Greek audiences the opportunity to enjoy the masterpieces of the world music repertoire, as well as providing the primary showcase for Greek compositions. An established presence on the Greek cultural scene, the orchestra performs other fifty concerts a year including regular appearances outside Athens in provincial Greek cities and at prestigious venues and festivals abroad.
Over its long history, the orchestra has worked with a number of celebrated conductors including Richard Strauss, Felix Weingartner, Hans Knappertsbusch, Bruno Walter, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Eugen Jochum, Igor Markevitch, Lorin Maazel, Yuri Temirkanov and Michel Plasson, and leading soloists including Arthur Rubenstein, Wilhelm Kempff, Alfred Cortot, Fritz Kreisler, Jacques Thibaud, Pablo Casals, Mstislav Rostropovich, Alfred Brendel, Daniel Barenboim and Martha Argerich, to name but a few.
Former artistic directors of the Orchestra included Filoktitis Oikonomidis, Theodoros Vavagiannis, Andreas Paridis, Manos Hadjidakis, Giannis Ioannidis, Alexandros Symeonidis, Aris Garoufalis and Byron Fidetzis. In May 2011, Vassilis Christopoulos became the ninth Artistic Director in the history of the Athens State Orchestra.