Maestro move2: Juilliard names conducting chief

Maestro move2: Juilliard names conducting chief


norman lebrecht

February 13, 2018

The outgoing music director at St Louis Symphony, David Robertson, has been named director of conducting studies at the Juilliard School in New York.

Robertson, 59, will be the principal teacher for conducting degree students, working with three or four students each academic year and choosing future candidates.

Juilliard president Joseph W. Polisi said: ‘David’s professional expertise and experience will allow our conducting students and our orchestral players to benefit enormously from his artistry. Of course, David will build on the exceptional work of Alan Gilbert, who transformed Juilliard’s program during his tenure and has helped shape the next generation of eminent conductors.’


Robertson remains chief conductor at the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. He is married to the Israeli pianist Orli Shaham, who is based with their twin sons in New York.


  • Steve P says:

    What a homerun hire!

  • Anon says:

    Oh! When did he last conduct the LSO, LPO, RPO, BPO, VPO etc….? At least Gilbert has a track record! (The students being taught by an average conductor! Case of who you know I fear….)

    • BP says:

      Imbecilic comment.

    • Gaddi says:

      The best teachers are ALWAYS not superstars. Superstars are actually more often really bad teachers and their masterclasses are not helping. Most of the times. There are some exceptions.
      You want a good teacher? Don’t get an ego maniac self centered busy like hell super famous conductor.

    • Bruce says:

      Anon — Please name some famous conductors who have also been famous conducting professors — not mentors of promising young professional conductors like Karajan & others, but conductors who teach in degree programs at music schools. Thanks.

      • Anon says:

        Svetlanov. (Moscow) Temirkanov. (St Petersburg) Nadia Boulanger (Paris and Julliard!) Jurowski (Vienna). Whilst alive, Sir Colin Davis gave classes twice a month for over eight years. Not forgetting all the Masterclasses by Rattle, Solti, Gergiev, Eliot Gardner the British institutions. So yes. Top rank carvers can, do and teach. (Sure I’ve missed some out) Better the aspiring young conductors spend time at orchestral rehearsals learning how it’s done in real life, and receiving feedback from the musicians!

        • Anon says:

          Sir Colin Davis at the RAM!

        • Bruce says:

          OK, I will grant you master classes. Still not the same as teaching regular lessons, but OK.

          (Was Nadia Boulanger a famous conductor?)

          • The Voice from America says:

            In answer to your question: No.

          • Anon says:

            Mr Voice From America:
            Nadia Boulanger conducted your beloved Boston Symphony, Philadelphia and New York Phil orchestras, including premiers of works by Stravinsky and Copland. So yes. I suppose she was a conductor as well as a prolific professor! But I have to concede, agree with Zalman regarding his comments. Let’s see what legacy in future years DR will leave…

    • Support musicians or leave says:

      Anon, do you really know anything about what you’re talking about? By the looks of it you have absolutely no idea, so don’t post disparaging remarks in articles like this. You have no place to give an opinion on this. Learn to enjoy musicians and try to criticise less, we have a very small number of special musicians in the world and you should be careful to not put them down.

  • Bennett says:

    David Robertson is a superb conductor.
    I have heard many fine New York Philharmonic performances with him at the helm.
    He was a student of Boulez at IRCAM years ago.

    • MWnyc says:

      He was chief conductor of IRCAM’s house “orchestra”, Ensemble Intercontemporain, for some years.

    • Don Drewecki says:

      One of his amazing performances was of Varese’s Arcana, which had the clarity of Boulez, the drive of Robert Craft and the virtuosity of Martinon — I heard it with the NYPhilharmonic probably 15 years ago. Truly great.

  • Rob says:

    Is he the Micheal Palin of conducting?

  • Brian says:

    I had the pleasure of observing Mr. Robertson’s efforts with the Chicago Symphony more than once. The performances were stellar and his conducting free of mannerisms. He would have been more than a worthy successor in New York. Outstanding choice for Juilliard.

    • Anonviolin says:

      Has anyone on this thread actually ever played for him? Again, I fear the Qwerty Musicians out in force. And does he still wear that navy cape, affectation whilst at the Royal Academy and later with Boulez! I suppose Sydney was too warm for such a garment! (FYI I’m ex Juilliard Dorothy DeLay student, so know a bit about unsung incredible professors.)

  • Zalman says:

    A mediocre conducting teacher does much damage to the profession. At least two conservatories shared one, who produced one mediocre conductor after another for decades. For the good of music, let’s hope he proves an inspiring teacher who does not focus on technique and career alone, but on understanding scores and inspiring great performances!

  • M2N2K says:

    Not sure how good David Robertson is as a teacher, but having performed with him many times I am quite confident that as a conductor he is highly competent: technically solid, very knowledgeable in music and other arts, extremely intelligent, articulate, witty, eloquent – and contagiously enthusiastic.

  • Kevin Purcell says:

    David Robertson is a very fine choice and this is a very astute decision by Juilliard.


    I heard him conduct PELLEAS in Paris when Boulez was ill (WNO) and i though he was even better than PB in this wonderful opera