The Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra (Hungarian: Budapesti Filharmóniai Társaság Zenekara) is Hungary's oldest functioning orchestra, being founded in 1853 by Ferenc Erkel under the auspices of the Budapest Philharmonic Society. For many years it was Hungary's only professional orchestra.
The orchestra is drawn from musicians of the Hungarian State Opera House and the Hungarian National Theatre, and most of its concerts take place at the opera house. It has made numerous concert tours to other European countries, the United States and Japan.
Its first concert was on 20 November 1853, under Ferenc Erkel, the program consisting of works by Beethoven (7th Symphony), Mozart, Mendelssohn and Meyerbeer.
Landmark events include:25 March 1865: the first complete performance in Budapest of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor, "Choral"
16 December 1870: the premiere of Liszt's Beethoven Cantata (No. 2, S. 68), conducted by the composer, written for the centenary of Beethoven's birth
9 November, 1881: first performance of Brahm's Piano Concerto No 2, played by Johannes Brahms and conducted by Alexander Erkel
19 March 1888: the first performance in Hungary of Berlioz's Grande Messe des Morts (Requiem), conducted by Sándor Erkel
20 November 1889: the world premiere of Mahler's Symphony No. 1 "Titan", conducted by the composer
8 April 1907: the first performance in Hungary of Liszt's oratorio Christus (this was Hans Richter's final appearance with the orchestra).
Many Hungarian composers have written works especially for the orchestra, including Erkel, Liszt, Goldmark, Dohnányi, Bartók, Kodály, Weiner, Kadosa and Szokolay.
Many renowned foreign composers have conducted the Philharmonic Orchestra in performances of their works: Brahms, Dvořák, Mahler, Mascagni, Prokofiev, Ravel, Respighi, Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Other conductors to appear with the orchestra include Denes Agay, Eugen d'Albert, Édouard Colonne, Arthur Nikisch, Gabriel Pierné, Felix Weingartner, Bruno Walter, Erich Kleiber and Otto Klemperer, .