Michael Tilson Thomas faces heart surgery

Michael Tilson Thomas faces heart surgery


norman lebrecht

June 04, 2019

Message from MTT’s PR:

Michael Tilson Thomas announced today that he is withdrawing from all engagements beginning June 17 until September 3 in order to undergo a cardiac procedure. The operation, which will take place in Cleveland, is scheduled to follow his performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 with the San Francisco Symphony on June 13, 14, 15, and 16.

“I deeply regret missing concerts and projects that I have been greatly anticipating,” said Tilson Thomas. “On the advice of my doctors, I need to undergo this procedure at this time in continuation of treatment for a heart condition I have managed for many years. I expect to make a full recovery in time to return to the San Francisco Symphony for the opening of my 25th season as Music Director.”

Previously scheduled engagements from which Tilson Thomas is withdrawing are performances with the San Francisco Symphony and appearances at the Music Academy of the West including concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra.



  • Brian says:

    I wish him a complete recovery to health and more music. He was perhaps the first classical conductor I heard because he worked with my favorite rock band of my childhood, the Mahavishnu with John McLaughlin.

  • Karl says:

    He probably ate too much poutine when he went to Montreal. Get well soon MTT. And lay off the poutine for a while.

  • Rob says:

    All the very best MTT!

  • Cubs Fan says:

    Funny thing, a lot of people think the opening string figure of the Mahler 9th represents his own heart irregularities. Godspeed, maestro.

  • Nicola Colohan says:

    I am sending you lots of love and best wishes for a full recovery maestro. I hope everything goes well for you and you are back to wowing your audiences with your magnificent performances again very soon. Love Nicola Colohan in Ireland

  • Prix D'Excellence says:

    Never been a massive MTT fan, but must say his Charles Ives at the Barbican last Sunday was “Top Dollar”. Shame the Barbican has no Pipe Organ as this would have been a crowning glory for this Symphony. Wish him well for his procedure and hope he is back to good health and conducting asap.

  • Anon says:

    A decent man and superb musician. Speedy recovery. Wonderful Ives concert at the Barbican, Sunday last – packed house!

  • Doug says:

    He actually has a heart?

    • Greg Bottini says:

      Nasty, Doug. Nasty.

      • barry guerrero says:

        Were you there at the Annex for our experiences? I’m not so sure that Doug’s comment is far off the mark. I’ll be glad to discuss what happened with you in private. Not here.

        • Greg Bottini says:

          I actually was at the Annex when MTT came in with his huge dogs, Barry. He was certainly aloof and non-communicative with the salespeople, although he wasn’t in any way outright rude to me personally.
          Perhaps you caught him on a different day.
          But I’d like to point out that many people “in the spotlight” are aloof and detached in public, most likely because they have been made uncomfortable due to past personal incidents. You may recall that, ages ago, MTT was deeply fried in the news and musical press because of a pot bust. It set back his career considerably. Perhaps he just doesn’t feel comfortable any more amongst the “unwashed masses” – i.e., Tower Records employees.
          I reiterate: I think Doug’s comment was nasty, and cruel to boot.
          We’re not talking about personal demeanor here, Barry, or the behavior of MTT at a record store – we are talking about a fellow human being’s heart condition, which may very well be life-threatening.
          Where has basic human compassion gone?
          Do call me sometime to set up a time and place to “discuss what happened in private” – I’m in the book. Looking forward to it!

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    It’s been quite clear to myself and a few of my friends that something has been dogging him, health wise, for quite a while. Now we know. I’m not sure he and the SFS have done the community such a great favor by keeping things under tight wraps, but I’ll invite others to chime in on that and hit the ‘thumbs down’ button. It also explains the sudden decision to take Esa-Pekka Salonen (I do like him). Regardless, I certainly wish him the best on this serious operation.

  • Bill says:

    Sounds like either valve replacement or bypass ? I had the valve done in August. NOT FUN! Recovery is 3 months or so.
    Coraggio Maestro!