The history of the Varna Philharmonic begins in 1913, when an amateur symphony orchestra was founded. Under the direction of Asen Naydenov, in 1926 the orchestra participated with great success in the First Summer Music Festival in Varna, which later grew into the International Music Festival “Varna Summer”.
On April 1, 1946, as initiated by the conductor and violinist Prof. Sasha Popov, the Varna State Symphony Orchestra was established, which in 1968 became the State Philharmonic. In the first years Russlan Raychev, Vasil Stefanov, Yosko Yosifov and Konstantin Iliev worked consecutively as conductors of the orchestra. Conductors Emil Glavanakov, Vladi Anastasov, Ivan Marinov, Stanislav Ushev and Yordan Dafov also have contributed greatly to the professional growth of the orchestra.
The orchestra maintains a rich repertoire, which includes symphonic music, cantata and oratorio works by various composers, as well as Bulgarian music by different generations of Bulgarian composers. Its performances are also connected with the names of a number of famous instrumentalists – Ifra Niemann, Leonid Kogan, David Oistrakh, Alexis Weissenberg, Pablo Casals, Yuri Boukoff, Ruggiero Ritchie, Victor Tretyakov, Janos Starker, Mihail Pletnyov, Vera Gornolaneva, Mincho Minchev, Vanya Milanova, Georgi Badev, Atanas Kurtev, Yovcho Krushev, Atanas Kareev, Lyudmil Angelov, Ivan Drenikov, Stoyka Milanova, Svetlin Rusev and many others.
The most talented Bulgarian artists such as Dobrin Petkov, Vasil Kazandjiev, Emil Tabakov, Milen Nachev, Plamen Djurov, Dimitar Manolov, Georgi Dimitrov, Tsanko Delibozov, Naiden Todorov, Maxim Eshkenazi, Martin Panteleev and others have performed as guest conductors.
In 1999 the Varna Opera and Philharmonic Society was established, which in 2010, already as Varna State Opera, entered, together with “Stoyan Bachvarov” Drama Theatre, into the structure of the Varna Theatre and Music Production Centre with director Daniela Dimova.
The Varna Philharmonic Orchestra traditionally opens the Varna Summer International Music Festival with Bulgarian Rhapsody “Vardar” by Pantcho Vladigerov, participates in all prestigious Bulgarian festivals, tours in Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Russia, France, Austria, Spain, Italy and other countries. Since 2010 the orchestra has been performing successfully at the festival Opera at the Summer Theater, which was renewed after a 20-year break.
Numerous recordings have been made on the Bulgarian National Radio and the Bulgarian National Television.