In 1945 Stefan Rachoń, a violinist and conductor, established in Warsaw an orchestra which was to fulfil a wide range of tasks. In addition to its main goal of making archival recordings for Polish Radio and Polish Television, the orchestra performed at special concerts and festivals. As of the mid-1970s, the orchestra worked under several conductors, who also acted as its Artistic Directors. They included Włodzimierz Kamirski (1975-1980), Jan Pruszak (1980-1988) and Mieczysław Nowakowski (1988-1990). During the tenure of Tadeusz Strugała (1990-1993) the ensemble was given its present name and moved to the brand-new Polish Radio Concert Hall, which was soon named after Witold Lutosławski.
Wojciech Rajski, who served as the orchestra’s Artistic Director in 1993-2006, organized a series of auditions and tests for prospective members in the wake of which he rejuvenated the orchestra by engaging many up-and-coming enthusiastic musicians. The day-to-day activity of the orchestra comprises recordings for Polish Radio and public concerts. Its foreign tours - to France, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Spain, Germany, the Czech Republic and Latvia - have been met with both critical acclaim and enthusiastic reception among audiences. They have included performances in such prestigious venues as Milan’s La Scala, the Lingotto Auditorium in Turin, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Alte Oper in Frankfurt. It has also taken part in numerous events promoting Polish culture abroad, such as the gala concert during the Midem Fair in Cannes and the ceremony of presenting Wojciech Kilar with the ‘Golden Spectre’ Prize of the Foundation of Polish Culture.
In March 2007 Łukasz Borowicz, who had performed and made recordings with the orchestra for some time, was appointed its Artistic Director. The CD featuring Schumann’s works (conducted by Borowicz, with the cellist Dominik Połoński) won the ‘Fryderyk’ Award of the Polish recording industry (2007). During the 2007/08 season, the orchestra gave concert performances of Verdi’s Falstaff and of Cherubini’s Lodoïska (staged under the artistic supervision of Christa Ludwig at the Beethoven Festival in Warsaw). Both works were released on CDs by Polish Radio, and the Lodoïska album was nominated for the Midem Classical Awards and the ‘Fryderyk’ Award.
The 2008/09 season was inaugurated with the concert performance of the opera Maria by the Polish composer Roman Statkowski (1859-1925). Its live recording has been released by Polish Radio. To mark the centenary of the birth and the 40th anniversary of the death of Grażyna Bacewicz, her Overture and all violin concertos (with Joanna Kurkowicz as soloist) were recorded for Chandos. During the 13th Ludwig van Beethoven Festival, the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, with the Polish Radio Choir, performed Louis Spohr’s opera Der Berggeist. The 2008/09 season concluded with a concert of works by Andrzej Panufnik. This was part of a joint project with cpo for the recording of Panufnik's music by the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Łukasz Borowicz. Three CDs have been released. The orchestra has continued its exploration of the lesser known operatic repertoire with Weber’s Euryanthe, performed during the Easter Festival in March 2010 and subsequently released on CD. The season ended with the concert performance of Szymon Laks’s opera L’Hirondelle inattendue (the first Polish performance in the original French version) and of Karol Rathaus’s ballet Le lion amoureux, also released on CD. The orchestra took part in the concert performances of F.I. Dobrzyński’s Monbar or the Filibusters (2010), Donizetti’s Maria Padilla (2011)- both released on CD, Feliks Nowowiejski’s The Legend of the Baltic (2011) and Italo Montemezzi’s L’amore dei tre re.
In coming months the orchestra will continue its series of recordings with leading Polish singers. The CDs with Piotr Beczała (for Orfeo), Artur Ruciński (for Polish Radio) and Mariusz Kwiecień (for Harmonia mundi) have already been released.