History

  • State Philharmonic Society of ESSR was founded on 4 February 1941. During the succeeding war years, the continuity of State Philharmonic Society was interrupted. Nevertheless, concert activities were going on until the threat of occupation forced most of performing musicians to leave their homes.
  • In November 1944, State Philharmonic Society of ESSR was restored with Paul Varandi, an actor and stage director as Director and Gustav Ernesaks as Artistic Director of the institution. The premises of the Philharmony were located in the Drama Theatre, Tallinn Art Hall, Kopli Cultural Centre, Nõmme Cinema and other locations in Tallinn.
  • In addition, Ernesaks’s male choir the Philharmonic Society incorporated the choir of Tallinn Female Society (stopped its activities in 1950) and Vladimir Sapozhnin’s jazz orchestra (in collaboration with conductors Erich Kõlar, Boris Kõrver, Leo Tauts, Richard Mölder, Peeter Saul, Feliks Mandre), brass band (conductors Voldemar Jakobson, Leopold Vigla, Aleksei Stepanov; reorganised into a pop orchestra in 1957). Auditions were also held for 60 performers with various profiles, ranging from magicians to bear tamers.
  • On 27 February 1945, the Symphony Orchestra of the State Radio Committee gave its first independent concert.
  • On 13 July 1945 the opening concert in a restored Estonia Concert Hall took place (conductor Sergey Prokhorov, programme included Heino Eller’s “Festive overture”, Artur Kapp’s 2nd Symphony). Theatre “Estonia” building now houses the administrative offices of the State Philharmonic Society and the State Male Choir. 
  • In the 1950s, the Philharmonic Society consisted of male choir, pop orchestra and folk dance ensemble, the soloists Ellen Laidre, Vera Poteshina, Nadezhda Anniko, Ines Rannap, Vladimir Sapozhnin, Roland Pikhof. Numerous lecture concerts and school concerts are organised.
  • In the 1960s the concert hall of the Philharmonic Society hosted Gennadi Rozhdestvenski, Mihhail Homitser, Emil Gilels, Mstislav Rostropovitsh, Svyatoslav Richter, David Oistrakh, Aleksandr Gauk, Ida Händel, Karel Ancerl, chamber orchestras from Cologne and Italy, not to mention the local stars Mari Möldre, Ruut Tarmo, Helmut Vaag, Lia Laats, Eino Baskin, Jüri Järvet, Vello Viisimaa, Ervin Abel, Jaanus Orgulas, Jüri Pärg, acrobats Sergei Fatkin - Jüri Druus, dancers Helgi and Leo Mõttus.
  • In 1960, Gennadi Podelski founded the female vocal group Laine. 
  • In 1963, pop music studio was opened. 
  • In 1972, the Philharmonic Society incorporated early music ensemble Hortus Musicus, founded by Andres Mustonen. 
  • In 1974, the Philharmonic Society incorporated chamber choir of Ellerhein (since 1981 – Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir). 
  • In 1987, the pop music department was separated from the Philharmonic Society. 
  • In November 1989, the first Festival of Early and Contemporary Music took place (Tatjana Grindenko, Oleg Kagan, Natalia Gutman, Andres Mustonen, Taivo Niitvägi, Peeter Klaas, Moscow Baroque Quartet, Gidon Kremer, Aleksei Ljubimov, Hortus Musicus).
  • On 30 September 1989, the State Philharmony was renamed Eesti Kontsert (since 1997 a state concert institution). 
  • Oleg Sapozhnin continued as the Director, followed by Enno Mattisen in 1993 and Aivar Mäe in 1999. * In 1992, the position of artistic director was eliminated and the management of concert activities was distributed between producers and assistant producers. 
  • On 10 August 1997, Eesti Kontsert opened a thoroughly renovated Estonia Concert Hall to wider concert audiences. 
  • On 6 November 1998, a renovated Vanemuise Concert Hall in Tartu was opened. The concert hall is regularly used also as a conference and exhibition venue. 
  • On 30 November 2002, a brand new Pärnu Concert Hall was opened. The new building houses Pärnu branch of G. Otsa Music School, Pärnu City Gallery and Pärnu City Orchestra. The hall with approximately 1000 seats is suitable for hosting conferences, exhibitions, theatre performances and other events. 
  • On 8 October 2008, the newest concert hall in Estonia - Jõhvi Concert Hall – was opened (architects Ra Luhse, Tanel Tuhal, acoustics Linda Madalik). The main auditorium (seating 926) is a versatile space, with alternate stage configurations and different capacities. The chamber hall (seating 170) is an intimate auditorium ideal for chamber music concerts, seminars, recitals, and more. In addition, the chamber hall is also suitable for cinema screenings.