The Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia was the first orchestra in Italy to devote itself exclusively to the symphonic repertoire, giving the premieres of works such as Respighi’s Fountains of Rome and Pines of Rome. Founded in 1908, the orchestra has been conducted by some of the major musical figures of the 20th century—from Mahler, Debussy, Saint-Saëns, R. Strauss, Stravinsky, Sibelius, Hindemith, Toscanini, Furtwängler, de Sabata, Karajan, and Abbado to contemporary conductors who include Valery Gergiev, Christian Thielemann, Gustavo Dudamel, and Yuri Temirkanov. Its music directors have included Bernardino Molinari, Franco Ferrara, Fernando Previtali, Igor Markevitch, Thomas Schippers, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Daniele Gatti, and Myung-Whun Chung. Leonard Bernstein was honorary president from 1983 to 1990.
The orchestra has appeared at major music festivals that include the Proms in London, White Nights in St. Petersburg, and the Lucerne and Salzburg festivals, and it has performed in venues that have included the Philharmonie in Berlin, Musikverein and Konzerthaus in Vienna, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Royal Albert Hall in London, Salle Pleyel in Paris, La Scala in Milan, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, and the Semperoper Dresden.
The orchestra records extensively for Warner Classics. Recent releases with Sir Antonio Pappano include Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with Angela Gheorghiu (Brit Award), Verdi’s Requiem (Gramophone Award), Rossini’s and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with Anna Netrebko (Gramophone Editors’ Choice Award), Rossini’s William Tell, Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle, Verdi’s Quattro pezzi sacri, Britten’s War Requiem, and a CD entitled Rossini Overtures. A recent recording of Verdi’s Aida with Anja Harteros, Jonas Kaufmann, and Erwin Schrott won numerous awards. Other recordings include Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Beatrice Rana, Brahms’s Violin Concerto with Janine Jansen, and Saint-Saëns's Third Symphony and The Carnival of the Animals with Martha Argerich.
Sir Antonio Pappano has been music director of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia since 2005; he has also been music director of the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, since 2002. His past music directorships have included the Oslo Opera House, where he made his international debut, and Brussels’s Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie (1991–2002).
Born in London in 1959 to Italian parents, Mr. Pappano studied piano, composition, and conducting in the US. He made debuts at the Vienna State Opera in 1993, at the Metropolitan Opera in 1997, and at the Bayreuth Festival in 1999. He has conducted many of the world’s major orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic; the Chicago and London symphony orchestras; the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; the Philadelphia and Cleveland orchestras; the Berliner Philharmoniker; and the Vienna Philharmonic and Royal Concertgebouw orchestras. In April 2014, he made his debut at Teatro alla Scala in Milan with Berlioz’s Les Troyens.
Mr. Pappano records extensively for Warner Classics. Among his recordings are Britten’s War Requiem and Respighi’s Fountains of Rome and Pines of Rome, Verdi’s Aida, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Beatrice Rana, Brahms’s Violin Concerto and Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with Janine Jansen, and Schumann’s Piano Concerto with Jan Lisiecki. Mr. Pappano and the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia have recorded Nessun dorma: The Puccini Album with tenor Jonas Kaufmann, Schumann’s symphonies nos. 2 and 4, Elgar’s Symphony No. 1, and Verismo with soprano Anna Netrebko. In 2016, Mr. Pappano’s CD with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Solo Vocal Recording.
In 2012, Mr. Pappano was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to music, and in the same year he was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. In 2015, he received an honorary degree in music from the University of Rome Tor Vergata as well as the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Gold Medal.
Martha Argerich was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and began her piano studies at the age of five with Vincenzo Scaramuzza. In 1955, she moved to Europe and continued her studies in London, Vienna, and Switzerland with Bruno Seidlhofer, Friedrich Gulda, Nikita Magaloff, Dinu Lipatti, and Stefan Askenase. In 1957, she won first prizes at international competitions in Bolzano and Geneva, followed by her win at the International Chopin Piano Competition in 1965. Since then, she has been one of the most prominent pianists in the world. Her large repertoire includes works by Bach, Bartók, Beethoven, and Messiaen, as well as Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Debussy, Ravel, Franck, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, and Tchaikovsky.
Ms. Argerich regularly performs with the most prestigious orchestras and conductors, and at music festivals in Europe, Japan, and the US. Chamber music is a significant part of her musical life, and she regularly plays and records with pianists Nelson Freire and Alexandre Rabinovitch, cellist Mischa Maisky, and violinist Gidon Kremer.
Ms. Argerich has recorded for EMI, Sony, Philips, Teldec, and Deutsche Grammophon. She has received Grammy Awards for her recordings of piano concertos by Bartók and Prokofiev, Prokofiev’s Cinderella with Mikhail Pletnev, and Beethoven’s concertos nos. 2 and 3 with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra under Claudio Abbado. She has also earned a BBC Music Magazine Award, Choc du Monde de la Musique, and Gramophone’s Artist of the Year. Recent recordings include Mozart concertos with Orchestra Mozart and Maestro Abbado, and a duo recital with Daniel Barenboim.
Since 1998, Ms. Argerich has been the artistic director of the Beppu Festival in Japan. In 1999, she created the International Piano Competition and Festival Martha Argerich in Buenos Aires and, in June 2002, the Progetto Martha Argerich in Lugano (Switzerland). Ms. Argerich was named Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1996 and Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2004 by the French government. Her other distinctions include awards from the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome in 1997, and from President Obama at the Kennedy Center Honors in December 2016.