Michael Tilson Thomas

Latest Release

Artist Playlists

About Michael Tilson Thomas

One of America’s most respected and single-minded conductors, Michael Tilson Thomas has gained international renown not only for his facility with major repertoire from the classical music canon, but also for resisting safe and standardized programming with the orchestras he has overseen. The conductor was born in 1944 in Los Angeles into an artistic family that encouraged his early musical development. After an illustrious run at the University of Southern California, Thomas began cultivating an interest in expanding the purview of American orchestral institutions. At 19, he became musical director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra, where he collaborated on performances with some of the great vanguard composers of the 20th century, including Stravinsky, Boulez, and Stockhausen. After decades of shifting between renowned symphonic organizations and producing a formidable discography along the way, Thomas in 1995 settled into the job for which he is best known: music director of the San Francisco Symphony. In that post, Tilson organized definitive performances and recordings of common-practice fare—for example, 2011’s The Mahler Project, a 22-volume set of the composer’s complete symphonies and orchestral songs. Also active as a composer, Thomas premiered obscure works by 20th-century American composers including Charles Ives, John Cage, and Steve Reich. He left San Francisco in 2020 and largely retired from his major posts following a cancer diagnosis that he disclosed in 2022.

Los Angeles, CA, United States

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada