The Mariinsky Orchestra enjoys a long and distinguished history as one of the oldest musical institutions in Russia. Its history dates back to the first orchestra of the St. Petersburg Imperial Opera Orchestra, more than 200 years ago. Housed in St. Petersburg's famed Mariinsky Theatre (built in 1860), the orchestra now also performs in its superb 21st century Concert Hall (built in 2006) and its second opera house, Mariinsky II (built in 2013).
Following the orchestra’s "golden age" in the second half of the 19th century under the musical direction of Eduard Napravnik, many internationally famed musicians have conducted the orchestra, among them: Hans von Bülow, Felix Mottl, Felix Weingartner, Alexander von Zemlinsky, Otto Nikisch, Hector Berlioz, Richard Wagner, Gustav Mahler, Arnold Schoenberg, Willem Mengelberg, Otto Klemperer, Bruno Walter and Erich Kleiber.
Renamed the "Kirov" during the Soviet Era, the orchestra continued to maintain its high artistic standards under the leadership of Yevgeny Mravinsky and Yuri Temirkanov. The leadership of Valery Gergiev and the success of the orchestra's frequent tours have led to the reputation as what one journalist referred to as "the world's first global orchestra." This has enabled the orchestra to forge important relationships and appear in the world's greatest opera houses and theatres, among them The Metropolitan Opera, the Kennedy Center, the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, the San Francisco Opera, the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, the Salzburg Festival and La Scala in Milan.
Since its U.S. debut in 1992, the orchestra has made 18 tours of North America, including a 2006 celebration of the complete Shostakovich symphonies, a cycle of stage works of Prokofiev in 2008 and marathon of all piano concertos with Daniil Trifonov, George Li, Alexander Toradze, Sergei Redkin and Sergei Babayan in February 2016. Other tour highlights have included major works of Hector Berlioz and a Centennial Mahler Cycle in Carnegie Hall in 2010. In October 2011 the Mariinsky Orchestra opened Carnegie Hall's 120th season with a cycle of Tchaikovsky symphonies which was also performed throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Maestro Gergiev established the Mariinsky Label in 2009 which has since released more than 30 recordings to date, receiving critical acclaim in Europe, Asia and the U.S.