The Pilsen concert life was developing successfully already in the 19th century. The Pilsen Philharmonic Circle founded in 1882 became one of forerunners of Pilsen Philharmonic in the Pilsen’s modern history. This ensemble played a distinctive role in the city´s culture life as well as prepared the platform for the later orchestra and culture life development.
There was a new shift in 20th century when the developing culture life lacked a high standard orchestra body who would not be tied to the theatre due to frequent rehearsals and performances. Establishing the Symphony Orchestra of the Public Education Circle late in 1919 showed a fundamental step in the Pilsen Philharmonic history. Since the 1922-3 season, the orchestra had organized its subscription cycles, and it reached the highest number of subscribers in the 1925-6 season, having 940 subscriptions. In 1934 this body accepted the name of Pilsen Philharmonic.
The new era started in 1946 where there was established a new ensemble under the name of Pilsen Radio Orchestra, having the facilities in the brand new Czech Radio in Pilsen building. Throughout the years of its existence it has established firm tradition and prestige among the renowned Czech orchestras but it also became an ensemble in demand abroad. After Czech Radio reorganisation steps in 1993 where the conclusion was to dismiss all radio orchestras besides the Prague one, the Pilsen ensemble decided to continue its tradition as a limited liability company and later a contributory organization under the name Pilsen Radio Orchestra – the City of Pilsen Symphony Orchestra.
Since August 1998 it has been a B. Co. (Benevolent Corporation) whose founder is the City of Pilsen and the ensemble accepted the name on the Pilsen Philharmonic.
A wide range of artistic personalities has contributed the renowned image of the orchestra: V Talich, A. Khachaturian, G Vágner, M Turnovský, B Liška, J Bělohlávek, L Pešek, J Stárek, A Katz, O Dohnányi, Sir Ch. Mackerras, V Šutej, S Baudo, L Kogan, G Kremer, D Oistrach or M Rostropovich. The body has cooperated with the opera stars such as Ramon Vargas, Montserrat Caballé, Chris Pedro Trakas, Robert Swensen and many others.
The Pilsen Philharmonic has toured the European and North American continents; it performed on the prestigious stages such as Herkulessaal and Gasteig in Munich, Tonhalle in Zürich, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Hall, Brucknerhaus in Linz, Auditorium Zaragoza or Rudolfinum Dvořák Hall in Prague.
Besides its concert activities, the orchestra takes a big part in recording for the Czech Radio as well as for foreign partners. The hundreds of recordings comprise Baroque up to contemporary music. The world premiere recording of Bohuslav Martinů opera The Day of Good Deeds, Op 194, counts to rarities and it has been awarded with many prizes.
From september 2008 to june 2013, the Pilsen Philharmonic was led by Koji Kawamoto, the International Competition Prague Spring 2007 laureate. Tomáš Brauner, the International Conducting Competition Dimitris Mitropulos Athens 2010 laureate, has been the chief guest conductor since 2010 and since september 2013 the new chief conductor. The new chief guest conductor in the concert season 2014/2015 became Ronald Zollman.
The Pilsen Philharmonic is an ASOPS member (Czech Symphony Orchestra and Choir Association) and since 2013 has been the organizer of the Smetana Days International Festival.