A hard-working maestro pitches in on his 75th birthday

A hard-working maestro pitches in on his 75th birthday


norman lebrecht

September 01, 2019

Our good friend Leonard Slatkin is 75 today.

He spans three eras of American music – the years when Hollywood depended on orchestras, the decades when going to hear an orchestra was a mark of a civilised person, and our present confusion when no-one is entirely sure what an orchestra signifies.

But Leonard just carries on making good music, great music, with orchestras that keep on getting better and better.

We hear he’s throwing first pitch at the Cardinals today.

Happy birthday, Leonard!


  • Alan says:

    He’s conducting two programmes with the RTENSO in Dublin this season. Looking forward to them.

  • Cubs Fan says:

    Happy Birthday, maestro! May you live many more productive years. Write another book. Record some of the great Hollywood film scores that haven’t been done yet.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Happy 75 years young!! One of our national treasures, who has provided an insurmountable legacy of performances and recordings of traditional works and new works. Stay well and many more performances!

  • Rustier Spoon says:

    Such a good man. Happy Birthday Lenny!!!

  • Scott fruehwald says:

    Happy Birthday Leonard! Thanks for many great concerts, especially the all Ives at Carnegie.

  • Bone says:

    I’ve enjoyed so many of his recordings: his Prokofiev 5 with St Louis; the Vaughn Williams cycle with Philharmonia (especially 4); and Corigliano Symphony 1 with National PO. What a fine musician! Keep rocking!

    • Cubs Fan says:

      I have collected many of his fine recordings and it’s easy to forget just how many great ones he made. A sample from my collection:
      Rachmaninoff symphonies and concertos on Vox.
      Mahler 1 & 2 for Telarc. 10 for RCA.
      Leroy Anderson for RCA and Naxos
      Tchaikovsky ballets on RCA (none better)
      Elgar on RCA – that boxed set is muy bueno.
      All that Copland, Bernstein and Ravel.
      The RCA Prokofiev – 1, 5, 6, Cinderella….I sure wish he had done a complete cycle….it’s not too late!

  • The View from America says:

    I cannot remember when Leonard Slatkin WASN’T part of the classical music scene — at least here in America.

    We’re all grateful.

  • Herr Doktor says:

    Happy Birthday, Maestro Slatkin!! You seem to be someone who has never lost touch with what it was that made you want to become a musician in the first place. That’s no small thing. I’ve enjoyed the concerts I’ve heard of yours. Best wishes for many more healthy years!

  • Edgar Self says:

    Happy birthday, Mr. Slatkin. Listening to the Brahms second orchestral serenade, celebrating both you and your extraordinary family, parents, and uncle Victor Aller with the Hollywood String Quartet. Schoenberg “Transfigured Night” original quintet version with great Kurt Reher as guest cello.

    • M2N2K says:

      As far as I know, there is no “original quintet version”. The piece was written for string sextet. There are arrangements for piano trio and a better-known one for string orchestra, but definitely not for any kind of quintet.

    • David K. Nelson says:

      Just to clarify: Reher joined the HSQ for the Schubert Quintet, and Reher and Alvin Dinkin on viola joined them for the Schoenberg sextet. Great recordings. And what a family of musicians.

  • Larry says:

    May I recommend Maestro Slatkin’s new weekly radio program, “The Slatkin Shuffle,” heard on the St. Louis classical music public radio station, Classic 107.3


    • Tom Sudholt, Program Director, Classic 107.3 FM, St.Louis, Mo. says:

      Thank you for the shout out Larry!
      Just a quick clarification/correction that we are not a public (NPR) radio station.
      It’s been a real joy to record and produce Leonard Slatkin’s latest project. We are proud to have “The Slatkin Shuffle” as part of our regular broadcast schedule.

      • Larry says:

        Quite correct, Tom. I meant “public” in the sense of non-profit 501C3 status, etc, which seeks funding from individuals, corporations, foundations, etc.

        Tom, it was very nice to meet you last Wednesday in Clayton.

      • AFC says:

        Please make the Slatkin Shuffle available as a podcast to get a wider audience (including this New Yorker). I just downloaded the app to be able to tune in tomorrow evening. Cheers!

  • Jasper says:

    Loved his performances the many times he guest-conducted the NY Phil.

    For one concert series some years ago, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (now called the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra) performed alongside the NY Phil, with Slatkin on jazz piano.

    The audience for the first several performances was the NY Phil subscriber base (older, mostly white, steeped in the classical canon), whereas the audience for the last performance was the jazz crowd (youngish, more racially diverse, clapping whenever they liked what they heard).

    Slatkin’s playing on the last night was different and so much more “jazzy” than it had been for the first several nights.

    The sign of a masterful musician who knows his audience.


  • Chris in New York says:

    Recalling many fine performances in Minneapolis during the 70s and 80s; more recently with the New York Philharmonic; and the thrilling experience of hearing the four Ives symphonies in one evening with the fine Detroit Symphony at Carnegie Hall.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Warm Happy Birthday greetings to you, Maestro Slatkin!
    We working stiffs at Tower Records often got inquiries from customers as to whose recorded version of this or that American composers’ works to buy.
    The irreverent (but accurate) answer was always one of the Lennies: Bernie or Slats.
    Mazel Tov, you mensch, you!
    (PS: I absolutely love your old recording of Grieg orchestral works on VOX!)

  • Esther Cavett says:

    Love the Walton !

  • Edgar Self says:

    Thanks to sharp-eyed M2N2K and David K. Nelson for shaping up my post about the Hollywood String Quartet in “Transfigured Night”, the safe sextet version, right. I bet you even remember Anthony Tudor’s ballet of it called “Pillar of Fire”, the cover title of RCA’s album by Vladimir Golschmann and the St. Louis SO, with a Corelli adagio on the odd side.

    Cellist Kurt Reher was first chair at LAPO, and his brother Sven in the violas when I saw them play a blistering Brahms G-minor piano quartet with pianist Leonard Stein at Boyle Heights “Y”, and later Schubert’s “Trout” at Merry Mount. I wish I remembered the violinist. Kurt Reher impressed me but modestly said George Neikrug was the best cellist in L.A.

    What’s clear is that Leonard Slatkin has a lot of warm friends.

  • Kelly says:

    Happy Birthday Maestro. And what better present than your beloved Cardinals leading the division by 3 games!

  • Gaffney Feskoe says:

    Happy birthday, Maestro and ad multos annos. I particularly like the recordings of the Haydn symphonies.

  • Mather Pfeiffenberger says:

    Maestro Slatkin is largely responsible for Boosey and Hawkes deciding in 2015 to restore the 10-12 bars (numbers vary) that Leonard Bernstein cut from the coda of Aaron Copland’s Symphony No. 3 in 1948 to a new published edition. Maestro Slatkin performed the work with those bars included starting in the mid-1990s during his music directorship of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC and continued to do so with every orchestra he conducted in the work. The restoration makes a noticeable difference, resulting in a more blazing, heroic, and grandiloquent summing up of the symphony, since it includes final statements of motifs that appeared in earlier movements. His recording of this version of the work with the Detroit Symphony on Naxos can’t be beat and he deserves our thanks for bringing its full grandeur back to our ears.