A great conductor is 85 today

A great conductor is 85 today


norman lebrecht

May 04, 2016

Happy birthday, Gennady.

gennady rozhdestvensky


  • Patrick Lannigan says:

    He is an extraordinary musical magician, I worked in the BBC Symphony when he was chief . Happy birthday and many happy returns. Paddy XX

  • Doktor Avalanche says:

    Rozhdestvensky is the real deal. We were lucky to hear him for YEARS in Boston as a fairly regular guest conductor, and his concerts (for me) became events not to be missed. The highlight was his performance of Suk’s “A Summer’s Tale,” for which he gave the *American premiere* 100 years or so after the work was written. It was Boston’s loss that he had a dust-up with the BSO management and left in a huff. I miss his concerts immensely.

    • MacroV says:

      I love A Summer Tale, but it was written 1907-1909, so if he conducted it with the BSO around 2007, (100th anniversary) he did it about 13 years after I heard Michael Gielen conduct it in Seattle, though that wasn’t labeled as any kind of premier.

      • Doktor Avalanche says:

        I’ll take your dates/times as accurate, Macrov. The program notes for the concert (in 2004) indicated that this performance was the American premiere, and it was also billed as such in the program book. But perhaps the Boston Symphony management made a mistake.

        More importantly, the performance was AMAZING. And it’s a work I know and absolutely love (and can’t understand why it hasn’t caught on–it’s such a rich work). I can’t imagine it being better conducted or better performed than what I heard Rozhdestvensky do that night with the BSO. The concert still remains in my memory.

  • Tom Connor says:

    Agreed, they were special concerts.

    Tom C

  • Roman Moiseyev says:

    May 4, celebrates the anniversary of the outstanding musician of our time, conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky (1931). Happy birthday, dear teacher!
    Геннадий Николаевич Рождественский. Народный артист СССР. Лауреат Ленинской премии, профессор. Выдающийся дирижер, музыкант, артист, педагог и просветитель – празднует свое 85-летие! С днем рождения, дорогой учитель!

  • MacroV says:

    He’s magnificent. I think at one time – maybe still – he was the most-recorded conductor of all time; especially if you count everything coming out of Soviet-era vaults. I was lucky to see him conduct several concerts in Moscow a decade ago; much more interesting programs than he usually seems to do in the west, where conservative managements seem to shuttle Russian conductors into the last 3 Tchaikovsky symphonies, Rachmaninov piano concertos, and little else.

    • John Kelly says:

      When he was Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony in the late 1970s he did all kinds of repertoire – the Russian composers he was so familiar with were a marked contrast with the Boulezian diet the orchestra and its listeners were previously used to. I remember splendid performances at the Proms and all over the UK. The Fairy’s Kiss never better done than in my home town of Leeds, and so many other programs too numerous to mention but all broadcast by the BBC. He was (and still is) a gifted conductor of British music. At the Festival Hall in 1976 he performed Vaughan Williams’ 4th with the LSO. And the conclusion he held the score aloft with both hands. A humble artist indeed, though he likes his name in reasonably sized lettering on billboards, as the BSO know to their cost.

  • John Grabowski says:

    So underrated in my opinion. Glad he’s still with us.

  • Matthew B. Tepper says:

    I recognized him instantly from the photograph, advanced years or not (his, not mine!), and I fully agree with your assessment. The BBC was fortunate to have had him. Stockholm was very lucky indeed to get him. There were persistent rumors in the ’70s that Ernest Fleischmann was trying to work out a way to get him as Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and while we were graced with the superb musicianship of Carlo Maria Giulini, I still wonder what might have been.

    • Steve de Mena says:

      He was scheduled to conduct Shostakovich’s “The New Babylon” film score with the LA Philharmonic. This was around the time his recording came out in the US on Columbia. But it was cancelled due to insufficient rehearsal time & some warhorse substituted. (Maybe for better ticket sales too. Who knows).

    • M2N2K says:

      Having worked with GR on several occasions, I can tell you with confidence that “what might have been” would most likely not work well because the chemistry of his personality as a music director with any major American orchestra would be totally wrong. For this and a few other important reasons, musicians of LA Phil and their audiences were indeed lucky to be “graced with the superb musicianship of Carlo Maria Giulini”.

  • Jane Marguerite Andrews says:


    Dr J M Andrews Psych. LLB(Hons)

  • Saxon Broken says:

    When will he next perform in London?