The Israel Philharmonic was founded in 1936 by Bronislaw Huberman and its inaugural concert, on 26 December 1936, was conducted by Arturo Toscanini. The IPO plays in subscription series in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa, in special concerts and in various concert series throughout Israel. The IPO regularly tours the world's cultural centers and prestigious festivals. Israel's creative artists are promoted by many IPO premieres of works by Israeli composers.
The IPO has contributed to the absorption of new immigrants and includes in its ranks new immigrant musicians. The orchestra has hosted the world's greatest conductors and soloists, as well as young talents from Israel and abroad. As part of KeyNote, the IPO's music education and outreach program, IPO musicians perform in numerous schools and concerts for school pupils at the Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv.
In 1969 Maestro Zubin Mehta was appointed Music Advisor to the IPO and in 1977 he became its Music Director. Maestro Mehta retired in October 2019 and following his retirement, the IPO has named him Music Director Emeritus. Lahav Shani became Music Director in the 2020-21 season. Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was named IPO Laureate Conductor in 1988 and in 1992 Kurt Masur (1927-2015) was appointed Honorary Guest Conductor.