The Turku Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the more highly regarded of the twelve regional symphony orchestras of Finland.
Turku is the most ancient city in Finland. Located two hours northwest of the capital city of Helsinki, it is the home of the mother church of the Lutheran Church in Finland, site of a fourteenth-century castle, location of two important universities (one teaching in Swedish and the other in Finnish), and the Turku School of Economics. The city's name in Finnish is Turun. Turku is from a Slavic word meaning "trading place," and in Swedish the place is known as Abo.
The Turku Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the oldest in the world, and the oldest in Finland. It was founded in 1790, when Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven were all alive, and played the music of all three during their lifetimes. It was a private organization through most of its existence. It was financially re-organized in 1927, when it became a service of the municipal government.
At that time the orchestra's membership was down to twenty-seven men. Since then, it has been enlarged several times to comprise seventy-three permanent members. This makes it the fourth largest orchestra in Finland but a relatively small orchestra by international standards. It has a reputation for good playing. Its size makes it most suitable for Classical-era music, works of the more conservative Romantic-era composers, and much music of the post-Romantic era.
It ordinarily plays eighteen classical programs a year. In addition, it plays a regular series of chamber orchestra concerts using portions of its personnel, plus popular concerts, special events such as Christmas, Labor Day, and Good Friday concerts, children's and students' concerts, and tours. In addition, it functions as the orchestra for the Turku Opera Association productions at the Turku City Theater.
It has recorded for the Finlandia and Naxos labels. Its recording of Sibelius' early choral symphony, Kullervo, on Naxos quickly sold over 30,000 copies worldwide, a large quantity for a specialized classical release.