Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra

Toshio Yanagisawa Conductor and Boštjan Lipovšek Horn Soloist

Last Thursday I attended a Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra performance at the National Theatre – literally around the corner from my apartment. Philharmonic season is summer, so it was lucky finding this special winter performance. Samra Gulamović, a native of Sarajevo, is the orchestra’s principal conductor. Toshio Yanagisawa was guest conductor with Boštjan Lipovšek as horn soloist.

History Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra

Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra is the first professionally organized symphonic orchestra in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The orchestra is “rooted in ensembles established during Austro-Hungarian rule”. Created in 1923, it’s a “significant pillar of music culture for Sarajevo and the Bosnian region”.

National Theatre Sarajevo –


“Counting decades in an environment where social developments ruthlessly affected cultural circumstances, the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra repeatedly reprinted the pages of its history.”


Samra Gulamović Principal Conductor Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra – Spettacoli

During World War II 1941-1945, the Sarajevo Philharmonic stopped working. In 1948 the orchestra resumed its activities and pursued several goals:

  • Perform symphonic music by national and international authors
  • Encourage new symphonic works
  • Raise the quality of performances
  • Satisfy the cultural needs of citizens
  • Support institutions developing music culture
Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra – Uroš Lajovic

Beginning in 1992 the Bosnian War and Siege of Sarajevo destroyed much that was built during the previous decade. The Sarajevo Philharmonic “suffered great material and human losses and stopped performing for two years”.

Zubin Mehta Conductor –

A “turning point for the Philharmonic” was a concert in 1994 conducted by Indian maestro Zubin Mehta. The orchestra performed Mozart’s Requiem in the bombed remains of Sarajevo’s City Hall.

City Hall After Siege of Sarajevo – Wikipedia


The Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra will celebrate its 97th anniversary in 2020.


Boštjan Lipovšek French Horn
February 21st Performance

The evening included brilliant music and company!  It was my first time inside the National Theater, a small but spectacular hall! The performance sold out.

Sarajevo National Theatre

Japanese guest conductor Toshio Yanagisawa led the orchestra. The horn soloist was Slovenian Boštjan Lipovšek. This was the program:

Chandelier National Theatre Sarajevo –
Toshio Yanagisawa Guest Conductor

Born in 1971, Toshio Yanagisawa studied conducting at Ecole Normal de Musique in Paris. He has conducted throughout Japan, Europe, and the US including Tokyo, Osaka, Kosovo, Macedonia, Vienna, Geneva, and New York. Yanagisawa is Music Director of the Balkan Chamber Orchestra, Chief Conductor Kosovo Philharmonic Orchestra, Honored Principal Conductor Beograd Sinfonietta, and Principal Guest Conductor Serbia Nis Symphony Orchestra. He’s a fantastic, humble conductor, always deferring to the soloist and orchestra.

Toshio Yanagisawa Conductor
Boštjan Lipovšek Horn Soloist

Boštjan Lipovšek comes from a “Slovenian musical family of horn players”. He graduated from Ljubljana’s Music Academy and attended the Salzburg Mozarteum. As a soloist he’s received many awards and played with the Slovene Philharmonic Orchestra, Maribor Philharmonics, Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonic Orchestra from Udine, Chamber Orchestra Padova e Veneto, Jeunesses Musicales World Orchestra, La Monnaie Opera House Brussels, Berlin Symphony Orchestra, and Mahler Chamber Orchestra. He teaches at Music Academies in Ljubljana and Zagreb.

Toshio Yanagisawa Conductor


On June 19, 1994 Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra performed Mozart’s Requiem in the ruins of  City Hall.


Boštjan Lipovšek Horn Soloist

The atmosphere and music were spectacular. Sarajevo’s Philharmonic ended with an exceptional performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5! Opera and ballet performances are on the February schedule, so I will visit the National Theater again soon.