Breaking: Esa-Pekka calls time on his London orchestra

The Finnish music director will leave the Philharmonia Orchestra in 2021 after 13 years as principal conductor, it was announced this afternoon.

Esa-Pekka Salonen said: ‘I have been unbelievably fortunate to conduct the great orchestras of the globe: a simultaneously inspiring and humbling part of my night job. Though since my debut 35 years ago – surprising no one more than me – and in my 10 years as Principal Conductor, I find myself returning again and again to the Philharmonia.

‘This is a group that juxtaposes world-class talent and star-power with an ease of musical communication, personal warmth, real risk-taking on stage and off, and always good humour. The open-mindedness and confidence with which they supported me at my debut was a masterclass in how we should all treat each other musically and beyond. This and our on-going collaboration is in no small part why I became a conductor at all, and why I still enjoy the complex but ultimately very inspiring human interaction that we call conducting. I do not say lightly that they are family, and I am honoured to be a part of what will be their fantastic future.’


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  • Don’t think so. I hear its going to be Pablo Heras Casado there, he’s had some great reviews lately and I hear from a source in the band he is the one. E_P only goes to LA not SF much. Malkki is also a big hit in SF.

  • When EPS first appeared there was a good disk of Russian music on Philips: White Nights I think it was. I really liked it, still do, but all I could think looking at the booklet cover was here’s an attractive young guy who probably got to where he is based on his looks and other non-musical factors. Boy, was I wrong. He’s the Real Deal – I attended many concerts in LA I’ll never forget. And he’s a terrific composer, too. I’d be nice to have him in the US again.

    • Esa-Pekka Salonen is joining the Faculty at the Colburn School in Los Angeles in the Fall of 2019 as they inaugurate a new conducting program. I suspect he may be around LA a bit more as a result.

  • An excellent conductor! Glad I had an opportunity to hear him conduct the Philharmonia Orchestra in September – a really good performance of Schoenberg’s Verklarte Nacht and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7. He will be missed in London!

  • Those saying Salonen will end up at Chicago or San Francisco are likely to be disappointed. He has gone on record as saying he never wants to take another major job in the US since he has no interest in much of the work it involves, and the amount of time it takes. What he really says he wants is more time to compose.

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