Just in: New York Phil names Salonen composer in residence

Just in: New York Phil names Salonen composer in residence


norman lebrecht

January 21, 2015

Alan  Gilbert has a thing for Finns.

Magnus Lindberg was his first composer in residence. Now he has chosen a fellow-conductor, Esa-Pekka Salonen. Will New York warm to the former LA Phil music director? Does his music warrant the extra attention?



Here’s what the musicians think.

And the man himself.

press release:
The New York Philharmonic announced today that Esa-Pekka Salonen will be The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence for the 2015-16, 2016–17, and 2017-18 seasons. The residency opens in the fall of 2015 with music director Alan Gilbert conducting the New York premiere of Salonen’s LA Variations, which Salonen wrote when he was the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. LA Variations has since become a modern classic played by orchestras around the globe. In the spring of 2016, Gilbert will conduct the New York premiere of Salonen’s latest composition, Karawane, for orchestra and chorus, which was co-commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchestra, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Bamberg Symphony, and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and premiered in Zurich in fall 2014.

Additionally, Salonen will lead the Philharmonic in Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie(with pianist Yuja Wang), the centerpiece of the Philharmonic’s Messiaen Week. An evening at SubCulture as part of CONTACT!, the Philharmonic’s new-music series, will be curated by Salonen; he will serve as advisor for CONTACT!, and he will co-curate the second NY PHIL BIENNIAL with Alan Gilbert, where a new Salonen orchestral work, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, will also be performed. Salonen’s LA Variations will be performed during the first of annual residencies by the Philharmonic with the University Musical Society at the University of Michigan taking place in October 2015, and selections from Karawane will be performed at a Young People’s Concert. 


  • harold braun says:

    Fantastic composerJust heard his newest piece,Karawane.Gourgeously over the Top,the Daphnis and Chloe of the 21st century.

  • Herrera says:

    1) Sigh, does Salonen need this? With his already considerable influence, wealth, fame, ubiquity, power, prizes, appointments, residences, engagements, does he really, really need this? At this point in his career, if Salonen became a hermit and did nothing but compose, his pieces would still be played by any number of major orchestras around the world, every year. Is this the point of a composer-in-residence program? Seems like Salonen is just taking a victory lap around the world these days, having appointments heaped on him one after another. At the very least, it can’t be said that the NY Phil is taking any risks!

    2) “…he will serve as advisor for CONTACT!, and he will co-curate the second NY PHIL BIENNIAL with Alan Gilbert” Isn’t the NY Phil just outsourcing part of Gilbert’s job?

  • william osborne says:

    The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence position was the result of a $10 million gift from Henry R. Kravis endowing the residency as well as the awarding of an annual $250,000 Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music which was awarded in 2011 (I think) for the first time to French composer Henri Dutilleux. It seems these folks aren’t too big on American composers.

    The program is another example of the rather distasteful American practice of rich people naming things after themselves or their wives. Henry R. Kravis (born January 6, 1944) is an American who owns a private equity firm with $94.3 billion in assets as of December 31, 2013. He has an estimated net worth of $5.1 billion as of January 2015. He mainly lives in New York City and has a residence in Palm Beach, Florida.

    $10 million could be used to much better purposes for supporting American new music, but it wouldn’t bring so much profile to the donor. Unfortunately, we shouldn’t expect Esa-Pekka to make any such observations.

    There is an irony when European composers whose careers were built by Europe’s generous systems of public arts subvention come to American and milk the system without breathing a word that might help us develop a similar public system for our own composers. European composers and conductors receive so much more support the deck is a bit stacked when American artists try to compete. Even our few conductors of top US orchestras like Alan Gilbert, David Robertson, and James Conlin had to go to Europe to develop their careers.

  • NYMike says:

    The last vignette of the Phil’s musicians features Fiona Simon – orchestra committee chair and member of the 1st violins – whose older brother is principal cello Covent Garden and younger brother is LSO’s co-principal viola. Truly, a musically talented set of siblings.

  • jeff cooper says:

    Corruptiion on a condutorslevel is always embarrassing since conductors themselves have the responability and power of putting the spotlight on important music. Therefore it is customary that conductors not use that power to promote there own music.Since Salonen himself is part of the commitee that selects the winners
    of the The Marie_Josee-Kravis Prize for New Music it impossible not to feel that his appointment throws a rather dark shadow over Alan Gilbert and the New York Phil. Ives is probably crying in his heaven.