About the Orchestra

Short Form Biography
Biography in German | Russian

The Russian National Orchestra was founded in 1990 by pianist and conductor Mikhail Pletnev. Of its debut at the BBC Proms in London, the Evening Standard wrote, "They played with such captivating beauty that the audience gave an involuntary sigh of pleasure."  The RNO has been described as "a living symbol of the best in Russian art" (Miami Herald) and "as close to perfect as one could hope for" (Trinity Mirror).

Maintaining an active international schedule, the RNO appears in the music capitals of Europe, Asia and the Americas, is a frequent guest at festivals such as Edinburgh, the BBC Proms and Festival Napa Valley, and presents the RNO Grand Festival each September to open the Moscow season. 

RNO concerts are often aired on National Public Radio, the European Broadcasting Union, and Russia’s Kultura channel. Their discography, launched with a highly praised 1991 recording of Tchaikovsky's Pathétique, now numbers more than 80 critically acclaimed recordings. Notable releases include the complete Beethoven symphonies and piano concertos on Deutsche Grammophon, Tchaikovsky’s six symphonies for Pentatone, and the RNO Shostakovich project, also on Pentatone, cited as “the most exciting cycle of the Shostakovich symphonies to be put down on disc, and easily the best recorded” (SACD.net). 

Their recording of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf and Beintus' Wolf Tracks, conducted by Kent Nagano and narrated by Sophia Loren, Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev, received a 2004 Grammy Award, making the RNO the first Russian orchestra to win the recording industry's highest honor.  Their recording of Shostakovich Symphony No. 7, conducted by Paavo Järvi, was awarded the Diapason d’Or de l’Année 2015 as the year's best symphonic album, and was nominated for a 2016 Grammy Award.

What They’re Saying

"[The] American-Russian Festival Orchestra, featuring distinguished players from the Russian National Orchestra and a number of prominent American orchestras...[conveys] a vital message to our participants and observers, that by working together we can share our musical and historical cultures and increase our understanding of one another."

Athena T. Blackburn

Founding board member, Festival Napa Valley