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Leon Botstein

About this Artist

The 2011-2012 season marks LEON BOTSTEIN’s 19th season as Music Director of the American Symphony Orchestra (ASO) and 22nd season as Founder and Co-Artistic Director of the renowned Bard Music Festival.

Leon Botstein is hailed as a visionary and is widely credited for both the innovative and imaginative programming as well as the high quality performances by the ASO, which was founded in 1962 by Leopold Stokowski. During the 2010-2011 season, Leon Botstein and the ASO returned to its original home, Carnegie Hall, with a six-concert series that kicked off in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage on October 6th. Under founder Leopold Stokowski, the American Symphony Orchestra performed its debut season at Carnegie Hall in 1962. The orchestra's 48th season opened with a characteristically distinctive program revolving around James Joyce and his iconic influence (with the ASO giving the U.S. premiere of Mátyás Seiber's cantata Ulysses) and his musical inspirations (including George Antheil's futurist Ballet Mécanique). The season also saw Leon Botstein conduct Albéric Magnard's 1909 opera Bérénice and the U.S. premiere of Paul Dessau's Passover choral work Haggadah shel Pesach. The ASO series at Carnegie Hall also included thematic programs titled "Music and the Bible", "Before and After the Spanish Civil War", and "American Harmonies: The Music of Walter Piston".

When Leon Botstein was appointed Music Director of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra in July 2003, the orchestra was in a precarious position due to long-running managerial and financial turmoil; however, Leon Botstein’s tenure with the JSO has, by all accounts, been an enormous success. Not only has he elevated the orchestra to international recognition, but also his work with the orchestra in its home city has been so popular that his Jerusalem series is now presented in Tel Aviv and radio broadcasts of the JSO concerts may be heard in syndication on the WFMT Radio network across the United States. In the fall of 2008, Leon Botstein led the JSO on its 2nd highly celebrated US tour following its previous tour in 2006, which included an enthusiastically reviewed performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Later in the 2008-2009 season, Leon Botstein and the JSO opened the 2009 Leipzig Bach Festival performing Mendelssohn’s Elijah to commemorate the composer’s bicentennial.

Leon Botstein founded the Bard Music Festival in 1990 to promote new ways of understanding and presenting the history of music to a contemporary audience. Each year, a single composer is chosen as the main subject. Last year, the 20th annual Bard Music Festival took stock of “Wagner and His World,” with concerts, panels, and other programs exploring the life and times of Richard Wagner. The New York Times depicts the festival as “part boot camp for the brain, part spa for the spirit.”

Moreover, Leon Botstein has conducted the BBC Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic, NDR—Hamburg, NDR—Hannover, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Bamberg Symphony, Teatro Real Madrid Orchestra, and the Bern, Düsseldorf, and New Mexico Symphony Orchestras.

Leon Botstein’s recording with the London Symphony Orchestra of Gavriil Popov’s epic Symphony No. 1 and Shostakovich’s Theme and Variations, Op. 3 received a Grammy nomination for Best Orchestral Performance in 2004. His recent recordings include Bruno Walter’s Symphony No. 1 with NDR—Hamburg on the CPO label as well as his live performance of John Foulds’ A World Requiem at Royal Albert Hall with the BBC Symphony on Chandos Records and Paul Dukas’ opera Ariane et Barbe-bleue with the BBC Symphony on Telarc. In addition, Leon Botstein has also made a number of prestigious recordings of works by Chausson, Copland, Sessions, Perle, Dohnanyi, Liszt, Bruckner, Bartók, Hartmann, Reger, Gliere, and Szymanowski for such labels as Telarc, New World Records, Bridge, Koch, and Arabeseque. With the American Symphony Orchestra he has recorded live performances of two operas by Richard Strauss: Die ägyptische Helena with Deborah Voigt and Die Liebe der Danae with Lauren Flanigan; a recording of Copland, Sessions, Perle, and Rands; and discs of Dohnanyi, Brahms, and Joachim among others.

Leon Botstein is the editor of The Musical Quarterly and the author of numerous articles and books. For his contributions to music he has received the award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and Harvard University’s prestigious Centennial Award, as well as the Cross of Honor, First Class from the government of Austria.