Esa-Pekka Salonen (Conductor)
Finnish composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen was born in Helsinki in 1958 and studied composition and horn at the Sibelius Academy. He originally intended to focus on composition, but came to international prominence as a conductor after stepping in for Michael Tilson Thomas to conduct the Philharmonia in a performance of Mahler 3 in 1983, making his debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic the following year; Salonen has maintained a close relationship with the orchestra ever since, becoming Music Director in 1992 and being named as their first Conductor Laureate when he stepped down in 2009. During his tenure Salonen did much to commission new music and promote works by living composers: their discography together includes Arvo Pärt’s Symphony No. 4 (subtitled ‘Los Angeles’ and commissioned by the orchestra in 2008), several albums of music by Salonen’s compatriot Kaija Saariaho, John Adams’s Naïve and Sentimental Music, and a Gramophone and Grammy Award-winning recording of Lutosławski’s Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4.
Salonen has also recorded widely with the Philharmonia Orchestra, of which he became Principal Conductor in 2008; their recordings together include Gurrelieder, Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre, and Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle (‘a taut, luxuriant reading that captures the score’s majesty and mystery’ – Opera Magazine).
Salonen’s own compositions include the L.A. Variations (commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1996), a Violin Concerto for Leila Josefowicz (2009), Karawane for chorus and orchestra (2014), and a Cello Concerto for Yo-Yo Ma (2017).
Further Reading: Esa-Pekka Salonen
The Finnish conductor and his Los Angeles orchestra mark the centenary of Lutosławski’s birth with a recording of his complete symphonies in performances which tap into the full range of exciting colours which the composer employs.
Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the world premiere recording of an embryonic opera which Shostakovivch abandoned partway through the Prologue, fleshed out and orchestrated here by Gerard McBurney.