The National Philharmonic Orchestra was a British orchestra created exclusively for recording purposes. It was founded by RCA producer Charles Gerhardt and orchestra leader / contractor Sidney Sax due in part to the requirements of the Reader's Digest
Before settling on this name, the orchestra began operation in 1964 using a variety of names including RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra and the London Promenade (the latter consisting largely of London Philharmonic Orchestra personnel). It was incorporated as the National Philharmonic Orchestra in 1970. Musicians from London’s huge talent pool were contracted by Gerhardt and Sax. By way of example, the violin section would routinely be peppered with leaders / concertmasters of all the major London orchestras, past and present, such as John Ronayne, Bela Dekany, Lionel Bentley, John Ludlow, John Brown, Donald Weekes, Irvine Arditti, Charles Meinardi, Hans Geiger, etc. The orchestra ceased to be an exclusive RCA recording organization at the same time that Gerhardt replaced Sax as the concertmaster. Decca Records began using the orchestra in March 1974. This was for a Phase 4 Stereo recording of the Yellow River Piano Concerto conducted by Elgar Howarth. Columbia Records began using the orchestra in 1975.
Such conductors as Leopold Stokowski, Riccardo Chailly, Richard Bonynge, Charles Gerhardt and Michael Kamen made recordings with it. Bonynge recorded all three of Tchaikovsky's ballets with it for Decca, Gerhardt made a series of stereo recordings of Hollywood film music with it for RCA Victor and Kamen recorded Eric Clapton's orchestral sessions from the 24 Nights concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in 1990 and 1991 for Duck Records.
The orchestra has been featured on the soundtrack of many films (particularly those scored by Jerry Goldsmith) as well as a selection of Star Wars suites from the John Williams catalogue. Bernard Hermann regularly used the orchestra for recordings of his film work.
Kenneth Schermerhorn conducted the orchestra on the soundtrack of Baryshnikov's production The Nutcracker, a staging of Tchaikovsky's ballet which became a television classic, after being presented live onstage. The orchestra also provided the music for the stage production.
The National Philharmonic Orchestra has since been disbanded.
Some of the film scores recorded in England and performed by The National Philharmonic Orchestra :
- Justine (1969),
- The Exorcist (1973),
- Barry Lyndon (1975),
- Grizzly (1976),
- The Omen (1976–81),
- The Boys from Brazil (1978),
- Alien (1979),
- Outland (1981),
- The Secret of N.I.M.H. (1982),
- The Wicked Lady (1983),
- The Dead Zone (1983),
- Supergirl (1984),
- Legend (1985),
- Link (1986),
- Licence to Kill (1989),
- Total Recall (1990),
- Not Without My Daughter (1991).
- Tom and Jerry: The Movie (1993).
There is also a National Philharmonic based in Washington, D.C., founded and conducted by Piotr Gajewski, currently in residence at the Music Center at Strathmore (Maryland).(website: ) It was formerly known as the National Chamber Orchestra.