The Philharmonia Orchestra is a British orchestra based in London. It was founded in 1945 by Walter Legge, a classical music record producer for EMI. Among the conductors who worked with the orchestra in its early years were Richard Strauss, Wilhelm Furtwängler and Arturo Toscanini; of the Philharmonia's younger conductors, the most important to its development was Herbert von Karajan who, though never formally chief conductor, was closely associated with the orchestra in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The Philharmonia became widely regarded as the finest of London's five symphony orchestras in its first two decades.
From the late 1950s to the early 1970s the orchestra's chief conductor was Otto Klemperer, with whom the orchestra gave many concerts and made numerous recordings of the core orchestral repertoire. During Klemperer's tenure Legge, citing the difficulty of maintaining the orchestra's high standards, attempted to disband it in 1964, but the players, backed by Klemperer, formed themselves into a self-governing ensemble as the New Philharmonia Orchestra. After thirteen years under this title, they negotiated the rights to revert to the original name.