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.
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.
In 1972, the Philharmonic Society incorporated early music ensemble Hortus Musicus, founded by Andres Mustonen.
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.