Esa-Pekka Salonen

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About Esa-Pekka Salonen

While many classical music composers end up working as conductors, few have been able to pursue both roles with as much rigor and success as Finland’s Esa-Pekka Salonen, who has also been one of the greatest and most prolific advocates for contemporary music of the late 20th and early 21st century. Born in Helsinki in 1958, he studied at the Sibelius Institute, where his classmates included fellow conductors Jukka-Pekka Saraste and Osmo Vänskä and composer Magnus Lindberg. He conducted for the first time in 1979, in a performance leading the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. From 1983, conducting became his vocation following a last-minute assignment filling in for Michael Tilson Thomas leading London’s Philharmonia Orchestra in a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3. Salonen served as principal guest conductor there until 1995, while also serving as a principal conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra between 1984 and 1995. He’s best known as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic between 1992 and 2009, where under his leadership the orchestra gave 120 world or American premieres and commissioned more than 50 new works. After serving as guest conductor of the San Francisco Symphony between 2004 and 2015, he became its music director in 2020. Salonen has written more than 50 works of chamber and symphonic music, and has also advocated the digital dissemination of classical music, including an advertising campaign with Apple Music.

Helsinki, Finland
June 30, 1958
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