The music director has just told his players that he will be giving up the job in 2020, after 25 years, when he reaches the age of 75.
Press release follows.
COMMENTARY: Is MTT the last of the old-fashioned maestros?
SAN FRANCISCO, October 31, 2017 — Michael Tilson Thomas today announced plans to conclude his distinguished tenure as Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) in June 2020. The 2019–2020 Season will mark both his 75th birthday and his 25th year leading the Symphony in what is widely considered one of the most productive musical partnerships in the orchestral world. Tilson Thomas’ legacy with the SF Symphony began in 1974 with his debut at age 29, conducting Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, and was solidified by his commencement as the Orchestra’s 11th Music Director in September 1995. Following the 2019–2020 Season, Michael Tilson Thomas will assume the title of Music Director Laureate of the San Francisco Symphony, and will continue to conduct the Orchestra for a minimum of four weeks each season in addition to other special projects. In anticipation of the celebratory 25th anniversary season of the MTT/SFS partnership, the next two years will feature signature recording projects, festivals, commissioning of new works, staged productions, a two-week tour of the United States in 2018–2019, and a three-week European tour in 2019–2020.
“Looking back over these decades I am filled with gratitude for the extraordinary artistic partnership I have had with the members of the Orchestra and for the warm and generous style of music making we have shared with all of our audiences,” said Michael Tilson Thomas. “Having been a Music Director of an orchestra for most of my adult life and as I approach my 75th birthday, I feel this is an appropriate moment to set aside some of my administrative responsibilities and begin a new period of creative possibilities. Fortunately my new and unique relationship as Music Director Laureate of the San Francisco Symphony will allow me to continue to work with my esteemed colleagues for years to come on projects close to my heart.”
Throughout more than two decades, Michael Tilson Thomas’ leadership of the San Francisco Symphony has been recognized worldwide for building an orchestra that consistently displays artistry of the highest level in its home of Davies Symphony Hall, on over two dozen national and international tours, and through media and recording projects. He has championed the creation and performance of new music through relationships with today’s important musical voices, explored the adventurous and iconic American sound, and enhanced the orchestral concert experience through innovative staging and immersive settings. MTT has led the Symphony in growing new audiences by making orchestral music accessible to all through extensive, award-winning media projects including audio and video recordings, national radio and television broadcasts, and streaming and web content. Under his leadership, the Orchestra has built a leading commitment to music education and community activities, expanding its involvement with San Francisco’s public school children, fostering many of the finest young musicians, and embracing creative ways to engage with the Bay Area’s diverse population.
“Michael Tilson Thomas embodies the personality and the spirit of San Francisco,” said Sakurako Fisher, President of the San Francisco Symphony. “Striving for excellence in all that he does, creative and curious in nature, inclusive of all, and adventurous in his thinking. We look forward to continuing to support his vision, ideas, and innovation around what an orchestra can mean to its community.”
“When Michael made his debut with the Orchestra in 1974, it was clear that his passion for the music was matched by his ability to communicate it profoundly with our audiences,” said SFS cellist Margaret Tait. “His creative, personal approach to music making and the broadening of the repertoire have been embraced by the Orchestra and made these two decades exciting, rewarding, and inspiring.”
“Working with Michael has been one of the most joyful and meaningful collaborations of my life,” said Eugene Izotov, SFS Principal Oboe. “His inspiration, guidance, and spirit have raised the artistic level of this orchestra and shaped the San Francisco Symphony into the kind of ensemble it has never been before. Although he leaves his post as Music Director, I know that his passion, youthful energy, and endless musical curiosity are here to stay with us.”
“Under Michael Tilson Thomas’ leadership, the worldwide artistic reputation of the Orchestra has experienced a trajectory of unprecedented growth,” said SFS Executive Director Mark C. Hanson. “His vision, energy, and ideas have excited and engaged both new and long-time audiences and have attracted 50 extraordinary musicians who have joined the Orchestra during his tenure. The MTT/SFS partnership is unparalleled and will only continue to strengthen over time.”