avid supporters of the orchestra.

Alexander Lippay suddenly died on 3 May 1939, and was replaced by Herbert Zipper as conductor the same year. Zipper was once a prisoner at Dachau then the Buchenwald concentration camp before getting liberated and journeyed to the Philippines in 1939.

Zipper expanded the activities of the orchestra and formed the Manila Concert Chorus. Under his direction, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony was first performed in the country in 1940. The orchestra traveled to Baguio to host a music festival in 1940 and 1941.

War and post-war

During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in 1942, Zipper was briefly detained by the Japanese as a “political prisoner” and the Manila Symphony Orchestra refused to perform as a protest and hid their instruments. In retaliation, the Japanese formed the New Philippines Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Francisco Santiago. Following the liberation of the Philippines in 1945, the Manila Symphony Orchestra was reformed by Herbert Zipper. Its first post-liberation concert was held in the ruins of Santa Cruz Church on May 9, 1945. Filipino musicians performed for the combined American and Filipino soldiers at the post-liberation army camps. Some of the musicians also toured the provinces and held special shows in hospital wards.

Young musicians

MSO has instituted two main programs intended to develop Filipino musical artistry and showcase Filipino musical talent, the “Young Artists’ Competitions” and the Luneta Concerts (known as “Concert in the Park”). The Manila Symphony Orchestra today has young musicians who are trained by the Philippine Research for Developing International Soloists (PREDIS), which was founded in 1985 by Basilio Manalo and Sister Mary Placid Abejo at St. Scholastica’s College. Filipino conductors have also taken the helm of the MSO, including Francisco Santiago, Basilio Manalo, and later Arturo Molina.


At present, the MSO is composed of 50 full-time musicians under the leadership of its Music Director and principal conductor, Marlon Chen.

In 2019, MSO made history by being the first Filipino and foreign orchestra to be invited to the 5th Hunhe River Bank Symphony Festival in Shenyang, China. MSO showcased works by Philippine National Artists Lucresia Kasilag and Ryan Cayabyab, and classical masterworks.

In 2014, to continue its legacy of musical excellence, the Manila Symphony Orchestra Foundation, Inc. founded the MSO Music Academy and the Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra (MSJO). They regularly hold lessons, masterclasses, and music camps to hone the talents of promising young musicians.

MSO’s mission is to enrich the Filipino’s vibrant cultural life through fine orchestral music and to enable more people to experience the power of music. MSO aims to perform within the highest international standards and present music in a fresh, spirited, and entertaining way. 

According to manilasymphony.com and en.wikipedia.org