Presidential Symphony Orchestra is one of the oldest orchestras in the world that has been able to operate without any interruptions. In 1828, reformist sultan, Mahmud II invited Giuseppe Donizetti (brother of the Gaetano Donizetti) to come to Istanbul from the imperial palace of Austria-Hungary to lead the band. The band was called Muzika-i Humayun (the Imperial Band) and it has been performing solely in the palace.
In 1934 Turkish composer Ahmed Adnan Saygun and a year after well-known German composer Paul Hindemith were in charge of organizing the programs of the music schools in Turkey. At the suggestion of composer Paul Hindemith, Maestro Dr. Ernst Praetorius was appointed as the new Music Director and he elevated the orchestra to new artistic levels.
After the death of Praetorius, the orchestra worked for many years under the famous conductors like Hasan Ferit Alnar, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing and many others. Especially Lessing did not only conduct and record many premiers of contemporary Turkish music, but he also has created a new excitement for classical music in the entire community.
Presidential Symphony Orchestra made a name in the international music scene and performed in many European countries such as: Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Romania, Italy, France, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Spain, Poland, England, Hungary, Czech Republic, Yugoslavia, as well as Russia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, South Korea, Japan, USA, China and received positive critics from the world’s well known cultural centers.
CSO also worked with the world renowned conductors such as: Louis Fremaux, Lukas Foss, Walters Susskind, Jiri Belohlavek, Aaron Copland, Jean Perisson, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Karsten Andersen, Bruno Aprea, Massimo Pradella, Tadeusz Strugala, Marek Pijarowski, Andris Poga, Cansug Kahidze, Gilbert Varga, Christian Jarvi, Anatol Fistullari, Hermann Scherhen, George Pehlivanian, Michel Tabachnik, Alexander Rahbari.
The orchestra collaborated with notable soloists like Andre Navarra, Yehudi Menuhin, Wilhelm kempff, Joaquin Rodrigo, Albricht Mayer, Jean Pierre Rampal, Igor Oistrakh, Leonid Kogan, Raphael Wallfisch, Hagai Shaham, Truls Mork, Viktor Pikayzen, Julian Rachlin, Paul Tortelier, Pierre Fournier, Valeri Klimov, Grigory Sokolov, Peter Katin, Gary Karr, Stefan Ruha, Maria Kliegel, Elina Vahala, Robert Cohen, Aurèle Nicolet, Janos Starker, Yuri Bashmet, Valeri Oistrakh, Baiba Skride, Mintcho Mintchev, Andor Foldes, Alexander Markov, Johannes Moser, Vaclav Hudecek, Karl Leister, Lothar Koch, Alirio Diaz, Paul Badura Skoda, Natalia Gutman, Sarah Chang, Antonio Meneses, Stefan Dohr, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Roby Lakatos, Shlomo Mintz, Alexander Rudin, Maxim Vengerov, Vadim Repin, Angela Gheorghiu, Jose Carreras and many others.
Well known state artists like Suna Kan, Ayla Erduran, Ayşegül Sarıca, İdil Biret, Gülay Uğurata, Gülsin Onay, Verda Erman, Hüseyin Sermet collaborated with the orchestra closely, as well as world famous Turkish soloists like Ayhan Baran, Ruşen Güneş, Gülşen Tatu, Güher - Süher Pekinel, Ferhan - Ferzan Önder, Fazıl Say, Muhittin Dürrüoğlu.
The orchestra was conducted by permanent Turkish Chief Conductors such as State Artist Prof. Hikmet Şimşek, State Artist Prof. Gürer Aykal (1988), State Artist Prof. Rengim Gökmen (2007), Prof. Erol Erdinç (2011), Selman Ada (2014). Prof. Rengim Gökmen (2015) has been conducting the orchestra, since 2020 - 2021 Concert Season Cemi'i Can Deliorman is new Music Director and Principal Conductor.
Besides the periodic concerts, the orchestra has given more than two thousands concerts around every corner of the country, recorded TV concerts and educational projects for children, youth and has pioneered to introduce, to diffuse and to attach music culture in all parts of Turkey.