The Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1945 by the conductor Albert van Raalte, and has since then performed under its artistic directors Paul van Kempen, Bernard Haitink, Jean Fournet, Willem van Otterloo, Hans Vonk and Sergiu Comissiona, each of whom contributed in his own way to the orchestra’s musical growth. Over the years the orchestra has played under conductors of international repute, including Kirill Kondrashin, Antal Doráti, Riccardo Muti, Kurt Masur, Mariss Jansons, Michael Tilson Thomas, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Peter Eötvös and Valery Gergiev.
Edo de Waart became chief conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra in 1989. In December 2004, after a lengthy association with the orchestra, he took his official leave from the orchestra and was proffered the title of conductor laureate and the promise to return regularly as guest conductor. His successor is Jaap van Zweden, who took up the position of chief conductor in January 2005.
The orchestra occupies a prominent place in the Dutch music world. With 115 musicians, it is the largest orchestra within the Foundation Music Centre of Dutch Radio and Television.
In 2005 the Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra was absorbed into the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra.