The longest serving conductors on earth

The longest serving conductors on earth


norman lebrecht

July 22, 2014

The death of Lorin Maazel deprives us of a maestro who held the podium for more than 70 years. Earlier this year, we lost Claudio Abbado and Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos.

The conductor Paul Mauffray wondered quite naturally whether this left room at the top.

So he drew up a little list. What it shows is that there are plenty of well-known conductors still active in their 80s ad 70s. It’s when you get to the 60s that the field thins out.

Here’s Paul’s list for Who has he forgotten?



Longest serving conductors


Anton Coppola 1917

Stanisław Skrowaczewski 1923

Sir Neville Marriner 1924

Georges Prêtre 1924

Pierre Boulez 1925

Herbert Blomstedt 1927

Michael Gielen 1927

Raymond Leppard 1927

Kurt Masur 1927

Christoph von Dohnányi 1929

Bernard Haitink 1929

Nikolaus Harnoncourt 1929

André Previn 1929

Richard Bonynge 1930

Günther Herbig 1931

Gennady Rozhdestvensky 1931

Nello Santi 1931

Vladimir Fedoseyev 1932

Libor Pešek 1933

Michel Plasson 1933

Helmuth Rilling 1933

Frans Brüggen 1934

Philippe Entremont 1934

Roger Norrington 1934

Leopold Hager 1935

Jorge Mester 1935

Seiji Ozawa 1935

Charles Dutoit 1936

Eliahu Inbal 1936

Zdeněk Mácal 1936

Zubin Mehta 1936

David Zinman 1936

Vladimir Ashkenazy 1937

Neeme Jarvi 1937

Maxim Shostakovich 1938

Yuri Temirkanov 1938

Steuart Bedford 1939

Marek Janowski 1939

Peter Schneider 1939

Walter Weller 1939

Jesús López-Cobos 1940

Christoph Eschenbach 1940

Dmitrij Kitajenko 1940

Lawrence Foster 1941

Christopher Hogwood 1941

Riccardo Muti 1941

John Nelson 1941

Yuri Simonov 1941

Edo de Waart 1941

Daniel Barenboim 1942

Thomas Sanderling 1942

Christopher Seaman 1942

Lothar Zagrosek 1942

Bruno Campanella 1943

John Eliot Gardiner 1943

Hartmut Haenchen 1943

Mariss Jansons 1943

James Levine 1943

Jeffrey Tate 1943

David Atherton 1944

Sir Andrew Davis 1944

Dennis Russell Davies 1944

Peter Eötvös 1944

Ton Koopman 1944

Leif Segerstam 1944

Leonard Slatkin 1944

Michael Tilson Thomas 1944

Antoni Wit 1944

Gianluigi Gelmetti 1945

Michail Jurowski 1945

Gustav Kuhn 1945

John Mauceri 1945

Pinchas Steinberg 1945

Jiří Bělohlávek 1946

Trevor Pinnock 1946

Christof Prick 1946

Mark Elder 1947

Philippe Herreweghe 1947

Gerard Schwarz 1947

Yan Pascal Tortelier 1947

Sylvain Cambreling 1948

Stewart Robertson 1948

Mario Venzago 1948

Ádám Fischer 1949

Hans Graf 1949

James Judd 1949

Stefan Soltesz 1949

Bruno Weil 1949

James Conlon 1950



  • Peter says:

    What a great pity Skrowaczewski is not appearing at the Proms this year, to end his 90th birthday season. His Bruckner 3 with the LPO earlier this year was very special indeed. And he’s not conducted at the Proms since 1996.

  • Mark Stephan Buhl says:

    Leonid Grin, 1947

  • Mark Stephan Buhl says:

    Günter Neuhold, 1947

  • Dave T says:

    What a fantastic list by Paul Mauffray. It’s reassuring to know that there are still plenty of old lions (and middle aged lions) still with us.

    As to additions, I guess 1950 was the cut off date because Ivan Fisher (absent) was born 1951.

  • Dave T says:

    That’s Ivan FISCHER. Sorry.

  • George Murnu says:

    Maestro Jonathan Sternberg was born in 1919, though I don’t think he’s still actively conducting. He did however do that until a few years ago.

  • Mark Stephan Buhl says:

    Sorry, one more comes to mind: Matthias Bamert, 1942

  • Georgette says:

    Jorma Panula 1930

  • PaulD says:

    Pinchas Zuckerman, 1948, though we probably first think of him as a violinist.

  • Nigel Harris says:

    William Christie (1944), Vassily Sinaisky (1947).

  • Nigel Harris says:

    I really shouldn’t have started this, because of course I couldn’t stop. I did wonder whether the list of 60-somethings looked a bit thin because early-music specialists were slightly underrepresented in Mr Mauffray’s list, and I think my list of additions below perhaps proves this true. What worries me most, of course, is that I still think of several of these as young conductors…

    Louis Fremaux 1921
    Martin Turnovsky 1928
    Joerg Faerber 1929
    Hans Stadlmair 1929
    Harold Farberman 1929
    Rudolf Bibl 1929
    Hans-Martin Schneidt 1930
    Kasimierz Kord 1930
    James Loughran 1931
    Antoni Ros-Marba 1931
    Tamas Vasary 1933
    David Lloyd-Jones 1934
    Jerzy Maksymiuk 1936
    Theodor Guschlbauer 1939
    Jean-Claude Malgoire 1940
    Alain Lombard 1940
    Uri Segal 1941
    Jacques Delacote 1942
    Owain Arwel Hughes 1942
    Kenneth Montgomery 1943
    Alun Francis 1943
    Joshua Rifkin 1944
    Nicholas Kraemer 1945
    Martin Pearlman 1945
    Okko Kamu 1946
    Dirk Joeres 1947
    Alexander Anissimov 1947
    Andre Parrott 1947
    Alexander Rahbari 1948
    Barry Wordsworth 1948
    Hubert Soudant 1948
    Marc Soustrot 1949
    Jane Glover 1949
    Nicholas McGegan 1950
    Philip Pickett 1950

    • Richard Claeys aka Rich in CA says:

      I believe Pierino Gamba, born in 1936, is still living and active. His LSO recordings of Rossini overtures and Beethoven piano concertos (with Julius Katchen) remain in the Decca catalogue.

    • norman lebrecht says:


  • Harold Braun says:

    Although primarly a composer(the same goes for Gunther Schuller),John Williams,of course(born 1932).

  • Daniel Ayala says:

    While I appreciate the attempt, the list is quite misleading. Longest serving conductors implies a number of years of active work as a conductor. Using birth dates merely tells us how old people are/were. Let’s make a true list of longest serving conductors beginning with their international debuts shall we?

  • Nick says:

    Out of curiosity, I wonder how many on the above lists readers would consider in the same class as some of the great conductors of ‘old’. Who genuinely deserves the massively overused honorific “maestro”? Who is up there with Toscanini, Mravinsky, Klemperer, Abbado, Furtwangler . . . ?

    • Dave T says:

      I wonder how many would be considered in the same class as some of the great conductors of ‘new”. Dirk Joeres? Hubert Soudant? Bruno Campanella? Who are these people? I’m sure they’re fine conductors but I’ve never heard of them in my life. I guess I need to spend more time on the internet.

  • Nigel Harris says:

    For what it’s worth, my little list was made not primarily on the internet (save for checking dates, of course), but by dredging my memory bank for people I’ve heard live and been impressed by, or whose recordings I possess. I think sometimes we can get too hung up on ‘great’ conductors of the past and underestimate those who are still with us. I remember really excellent concerts conducted by (to use the examples above), Soudant and Joeres, with the Salzburg Mozarteum and Westdeutsche Sinfonia respectively. Campanella has worked a lot at the Met, hasn’t he?

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    I know he’s dead but anyone know how long Ilya Musin conducted for?

  • thulliez says:

    and Georges Octors (1923) alive & well and last concert he conducted was in 2009 same concert hall, with the winner of 1983 Reine Elisabeth