Deutsche Philharmonie Merck (Merck Philharmonic Orchestra Germany) is named after the Merck family of pharmacists, who in 1668 laid the foundations for the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company – today known as Merck in Darmstadt, Germany. The company is the orchestra’s main sponsor.
The ensemble was founded in 1966, initially as an orchestra for employees called the "Merck Instrumental Group". Over the years, it evolved into a professional orchestra. The orchestra has been known as the Deutsche Philharmonie Merck since 2003. Wolfgang Heinzel became chief conductor that same year. The orchestra consists of up to 80 professional musicians, who are brought together for certain projects. Its repertoire covers all music styles from baroque, romantic to modern music and crossover projects. More than 20,000 people attend the concerts in Darmstadt and the vicinity each year. In addition, the Deutsche Philharmonie Merck undertakes projects targeted to children and adolescents, for instance cushion concerts or orchestra workshops. The aim is to promote an interest in classical music among children and adolescents.
In 1996, the Deutsche Philharmonie Merck held its “Musical Autumn” festival for the first time. Since then, every two years the ensemble invites top international performers, such as the Philharmonia Orchestra London, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra or the European Union Youth Orchestra, to Darmstadt. Many renowned artists, including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sir Roger Norrington, Ben Heppner, and Arabella Steinbacher have already performed at this concert series. Young ensembles, such as the Swedish vocal ensemble “The Real Group” and the vocal quintet “amarcord” have also given guest performances.
The Deutsche Philharmonie Merck has not only made a name for itself regionally. Concert tours have taken the orchestra to venues in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Lisbon, Paris, Vienna, Lithuania, Brazil, and Mexico. In 2001, for instance, the orchestra performed in seven Indian cities as part of the “German Festival in India”. Several CD recordings illustrate the orchestra’s development. Its latest CD was the classic jazz project entitled "Teatime at the Savoy". Numerous radio stations have already included the recording in their program. It was chosen by the German broadcaster for the state of Hesse “Hessische Rundfunk”, as CD of the week.