The Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai was created in 1994 by the unification of the public radio orchestras of Torino, Rome, Milan and Naples, soon becoming one of the most prestigious ones in Italy. The first concerts were conducted by Georges Prêtre and Giuseppe Sinopoli, followed by Jeffrey Tate, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Eliahu Inbal and Gianandrea Noseda.
Since November 2009 Juraj Valčuha has been Principal Conductor.
Other important conductors who have worked with the Orchestra are Carlo Maria Giulini, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Mstislav Rostropovič, Myung-Whun Chung, Riccardo Chailly, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Yuri Ahronovitch, Marek Janowski, Semyon Bychkov, Dmitrij Kitaenko, Aleksandr Lazarev, Valery Gergiev, Gerd Albrecht, Yutaka Sado, Mikko Franck, James Conlon, Roberto Abbado and Kirill Petrenko.
With the presence of its concerts in the programme schedules of the radio (Radio3) and television (Rai1, Rai3 and Rai5), the OSN Rai has contributed to the diffusion of the great symphonic repertoire as well as the historic and contemporary avant-garde, thanks to commissions and premieres which have gained artistic, editorial and discographic recognition. An example of this was the 2004 Rai NuovaMusica series of contemporary music concerts.
The orchestra performs regular concert seasons and special series in Torino, and is often a guest at major festivals such as MITO SettembreMusica, the Biennale di Venezia, the Ravenna Festival and the Sagra Malatestiana di Rimini. Among its official engagements is the Christmas Concert in Assisi, broadcast worldwide, and the celebrations for the Italian Republic Day. In 2006 the orchestra was invited to the Salzburg Festival and to the Philharmonie in Berlin to celebrate the eightieth birthday of Hans Werner Henze.
Among its recent engagements: Abu Dhabi Classics, a tour of Germany, Austria and Slovakia, concerts at the RadiRO Festival and at the Enescu Festival in Bucharest, another tour of Germany and Switzerland in autumn 2014, with concerts in Munich, Cologne, Zurich, Basel and Duesseldorf.
Important engagements include the orchestra’s debut at the Musikverein in Vienna and its return to the Philharmonie in Berlin, conducted by Juraj Valčuha. It participated in the operatic film Rigoletto a Mantova, conducted by Mehta and with the direction of Bellocchio, and Cenerentola, una favola in diretta, broadcast live and worldwide on Rai1. The orchestra is also involved in the recording of themes and soundtracks for Rai television programmes. Numerous CDs and DVDs have been made of its concerts.