It is more than three years since James Levine’s health left him unable to continue as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
It is more than two years since Andris Nelsons made his BSO debut as a substitute for Levine in Mahler’s ninth symphony, captivating players and audiences alike.
Last summer he conducted at Tanglewood. I saw him shortly afterwards in Bayreuth and asked him if he had been approached about the Boston vacancy. ‘They haven’t said a word to me,’ he said, looking a little downcast.
Today, he was appointed music director of the BSO.
So what was the reason for the delay? Was Boston flirting with others? Turned down by them? Was the BSO unable to get its act together for two years after most of the players realised that this young Latvian – still only 34 – was the most energising maestro they had seen in years? Andris wanted the job. Why did the BSO dither for so long?
He will give Boston 8-10 weeks a year, the minimum for a music director. Elsewhere, he is music director at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra until 2015 at the earliest. He is also one of three core conductors at Bayreuth and a vital element in the Lucerne Festival.
Had Boston moved faster, it might have got more. Press release below.
Andris Nelsons appointed Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra
The 34-year-old Latvian will assume the position from the 2014/15 season
The Boston Symphony Orchestra has appointed Andris Nelsons as Music Director from the 2014/15 season, for an initial five year commitment. He is the 15th music director of the orchestra since its founding in 1881, succeedingJames Levine who held the position from 2004 to 2011. At 34 years old, Andris Nelsons is the youngest music director to lead the Boston Symphony Orchestra in over 100 years; he is also the first Latvian-born conductor to take on the post.
“I am deeply honoured and touched that the Boston Symphony Orchestra has appointed me its next music director, as it is one of the highest achievements a conductor could hope for in his lifetime,” said Andris Nelsons. “Each time I have worked with the BSO I have been inspired by how effectively it gets to the heart of the music, always leaving its audience with a wealth of emotions. So it is with great joy that I truly look forward to joining this wonderful musical family and getting to know the beautiful city of Boston and the community that so clearly loves its great orchestra. As I consider my future with the Boston Symphony, I imagine us working closely together to bring the deepest passion and love that we all share for music to ever greater numbers of music fans in Boston, at Tanglewood, and throughout the world.”
Andris Nelsons made his BSO debut in March 2011, conducting Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 at Carnegie Hall in place of James Levine. Last summer, he made his Tanglewood Festival debut, conducting both the BSO and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. In January this year, he made his Symphony Hall debut with the BSO, leading a programme of Shostakovich’s 1st Violin Concerto with fellow Latvian compatriot, Baiba Skride, and Tchaikovsky Symphony No.5.
As Music Director, Nelsons will lead approximately 8-10 weeks of programmes during the BSO’s 2014/15 subscription season in Boston’s Symphony Hall, and will lead 12 weeks of programmes in each subsequent season. He will also lead programmes at Tanglewood. Nelsons will act as Music Director Designate for the BSO’s 2013/14 season, making his first appearance in that official capacity October 17-19 with Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 in C, with soloist Paul Lewis, and Brahms’s Symphony No. 3.
Andris Nelsons’ appointment consolidates a long standing relationship between the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Konzertdirektion Schmid, whose close musical alliance began over 40 years ago when company founder, Hans Ulrich Schmid, brought the orchestra on a major tour to Europe in 1971.
President Cornelia Schmid said:
“This is a thrilling and historic day for all of us at Konzertdirektion Schmid. We have accompanied Andris Nelsons’ career from the very beginning and his appointment as Music Director of the Boston Symphony fills us with tremendous pride. The long-standing history between Konzertdirektion Schmid and the BSO, which goes back to my father’s time and my first steps in the music business as a guide at Tanglewood, makes this appointment particularly special for the company. It therefore feels very apt to be even more closely associated with this wonderful institution and we greatly look forward to a bright future of exciting projects and tours in this new historic chapter.”
BSO’s Managing Director, Mark Volpe, said:
“All of us at the BSO are incredibly proud to be part of this landmark moment in the BSO’s 132-year history, as we announce the appointment of Andris Nelsons as the next Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. We believe that Andris Nelsons will further the BSO’s proud standing as one of the world’s greatest orchestras and bring his singular musical gifts to the orchestra and its countless fans in Boston, across the nation, and around the globe. We so look forward to working closely with our wonderful and long-time colleagues at Konzertdirektion Schmid to create the best possible environment for Andris Nelsons and the BSO to realize their highest goals in making music together.”
Andris Nelsons is one of the most sought-after young conductors on the international scene today, earning distinction on both the opera and concert podiums, including those of the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Vienna State Opera, Metropolitan Opera and the Bayreuth Festival.
Mr Nelsons’ tenure since 2008 as Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra has earned widespread critical acclaim as one of the most exciting musical partnerships in Europe, through their appearances worldwide and their award-winning recordings for Orfeo and Unitel.