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The IPO was founded by violinist Bronisław Huberman in 1936, at a time when many Jewish musicians were being fired from European orchestras. Its inaugural concert took place in Tel Aviv on December 26, 1936, and was conducted by Arturo Toscanini.
The IPO enjoys frequent international tours, and has performed under some of the world's greatest conductors, including Leonard Bernstein and Zubin Mehta, both of whom are prominent in the orchestra's history. Bernstein maintained close ties with the orchestra from 1947, and in 1988, the IPO bestowed on him the title of Laureate Conductor, which he retained until his death in 1990. Mehta has served as the IPO's Music Advisor since 1968. The IPO did not have a formal music director, but instead "music advisors", until 1977, when Mehta was appointed the IPO's first Music Director. In 1981, his title was elevated to Music Director for Life. Kurt Masur is the IPO's Honorary Guest Conductor, a title granted to him in 1992. Gianandrea Noseda is Principal Guest Conductor, a role previously occupied by Yoel Levi.
With Mehta, the IPO has made a number of recordings for Decca. Under the baton of Bernstein, the IPO also recorded his works and those of Igor Stravinsky. The IPO has also collaborated with Japanese composer Yoko Kanno in the soundtrack of the anime Macross Plus.
As of 2006[update], the composers whose works have been most frequently performed by the IPO were Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, Mendelssohn and Dvořák. The initial concerts of the Palestine Orchestra in December 1936, conducted by Toscanini, featured the music of Richard Wagner. However, after the Kristallnacht pogroms in November 1938, the orchestra has maintained a de facto ban on Wagner's work, due to that composer's antisemitism and the association of his music with Nazi Germany.
The orchestra's performance in London on September 1, 2011 was disrupted by pro-Palestinian protesters. The concert was part of the BBC Proms. The radio broadcast was interrupted, but the concert was broadcast again a few days later. A few weeks earlier, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and active in the Academic boycotts of Israel, had called on the BBC to cancel the concert. The orchestra's secretary-general Avi Shoshani declared to London's The Times newspaper that the orchestra was unlikely to ever perform in the UK again. Nobody was prosecuted for the disruptions, partly because the management of the Royal Albert Hall, where the concert took place, declined to cooperate with a group of Israel-supporting lawyers.
American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (AFIPO) is a non-profit organization dedicated to sustaining the financial future of the Israel Philharmonic.Necessitated by the lack of substantial Israeli government subsidy or endowment for the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, AFIPO's purpose was crystallized in 1980 through the joint vision of Fredric Mann and Zubin Mehta, who created an endowment fund in the United States to ensure the IPO's future. AFIPO seeks to broaden the reach of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and bring its message through music throughout the world. The monies raised by AFIPO are directed towards a fund which assists with the operational support of the orchestra and its musical education programs throughout Israel. Based in New York, the organization cultivates support for the Orchestra by hosting events and encouraging supporters all over North America to contribute to the Israel Philharmonic, a cultural ambassador of the state of Israel.
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