Is conducting now a hereditary business?

Is conducting now a hereditary business?


norman lebrecht

June 04, 2020

We read that the excellent violinist Emmanuel Tjeknavorian, winner of the Sibelius Competition, is now officially a conductor. His father Loris Tjeknavorian, now 82, made more than 100 recordings with international orchestras

Other conducting dynasties:

Kleiber, Carlos and Erich

Jansons, Arvid and Mariss

Järvi, Neeme, Paavo and Krystian

Jordan, Armin and Philippe

Viotti, Marcello and Lorenzo

Jurowski, Mikhail, Vladimir and Dmitri

Sanderling, Kurt, Thomas and Michael

Albrecht, Georg Alexander and Marc

Rieu, Andries (condutor of the Maastricht Symphony) and André

Tortelier, Paul, Yan Pascal and Maxime

Fischer, Sandor (conductor at Hungarian Radio), Ivan and Adam

Mehta, Mehli and Zubin






  • Fliszt says:

    Slatkin, Felix & Leonard

    • My Grandfather’s brother on my Mom’s side was Modeste Altschuler, an important conductor in Russia and the States at the turn of the twentieth century. And my son, who is a film composer, conducts all his own scores as well as his music in concert. So at least four generations of batons in this family.

  • fflambeau says:

    Kurt Masur(New York Phil; Gewandhaus Orchestra) and Ken-David Masur (Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Civic Orchestra of Chicago).

    My feeling is that it gives the offspring a decided edge. Listen to Edo de Waart, who hired Ken-David Masur, talk glowingly of his dad. Kurt Masur apparently wanted to succeed de Waart at San Francisco, but de Waart talked him out of it. Source:

  • Dorset dick says:

    sanderling third son: stefan

  • Josh says:

    Igor Markevitch and Oleg Caetani

  • FrauGeigerin says:

    Oh, well, buying a baton and standing in front of an orchestra does not make a musician a conductor. We’ll see what he does… if I were him I’d be very careful in claiming to be a conductor. He is respected as a fine violinist, and could lose some of it if he claims to be a conductor, is given an opportunity, and then does not deliver. I have seen it more than once with soloist turned to conductors.

    • Saskia Ellmer says:

      …and singers who thought to be conductors…except José Cure, he studied conducting before he became a singer, so he really knows what he’s doing in front of an orchestra.

  • Felipe Elgueta says:

    Jesús López-Cobos and François López-Ferrer.

    • Rigoletto says:

      Jesus Lopez-Cobos
      Lorenzo Ramos (changed his name, b. 1968 Vienna, former Orquesta de Cordoba’s MD, and currently MD of the Spanish National Radio Choir)
      François López-Ferrer

  • Eyal Braun says:

    Lahav Shani’s father, Michael Shani, is a highly respected choral conductor in Israel

  • RW2013 says:

    I’ve seen Bejun Mehta conduct.

  • Felipe Elgueta says:

    Albrecht, George Alexander, and Marc

    Dohnányi, Ernö (composer AND conductor), and Christoph von (his grandson)

    Jochum, Eugen and Georg-Ludwig (their father was a “local” conductor)

  • Andrew Condon says:

    Sir Colin Davis and his son Joseph Wolfe

  • Felipe Elgueta says:

    Odón Alonso González and Odón Alonso Ordás.
    Izcaray, Felipe and Carlos.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Zubin Mehta and Ferenc Fricsay:

    – Mehli Mehta founded the Bombay Symphony in 1935 and was involved with it for decades.
    – Richard Fricsay was a military Kapellmeister.

    Ferenc Fricsay was groomed from a young age to become a conductor, and had instruction in all types of orchestral instruments, along with composition. Fischer-Dieskau has mentioned that he had a lovely tenor voice. It all paid off. If only he had lived longer.

  • Amir says:

    Neeme Järvi and sons Paavo and Kristjan

  • MezzoLover says:

    Why should this list be limited to only father-and-son conductors???

    Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and her father, Romualdas Gražinis, who is a choir conductor affiliated with the Aidija Chamber Choir in Vilnius.

    • David K. Nelson says:

      Serge Koussevitzky and his nephew Fabien Sevitzky. Conductor Leopold Damrosch had two conducting sons, Walter and Frank. Charles Previn was a conductor as well as composer (I have an old newspaper clipping advertising him as conductor for a tour concert in Milwaukee featuring George Gershwin on piano); he was a cousin of Andre Previn. Alfred Newman was a conductor as well as composer, as was his brother Lionel Newman. Johann Strauss the elder and his son Johann Strauss II of course. The Jurowski family, Vladimir, Dimitri, their father Mikhail, all conduct or conducted. I suppose, since he did “conduct” a few of his recordings and in concert, that Isaac Stern was a conductor with conducting sons Michael and David. Adolph Busch did some conducting and was brother of conductor Fritz.

      • Joel Lazar says:

        Fritz Busch’s grandson, Michel Singher [son of Martial Singher and Margareta Busch] is a conductor.

  • Anon says:

    Youngsters who have famous conductor fathers grow up immersed in music. They hear their father playing reductions at the piano, attend rehearsals and concerts, hear recordings at home all day, and have a wealth of musical knowledge before being of college age.
    Then, if they want to pursue conducting they have the connections to get smaller orchestras to engage them, furthering their edge.
    They end up having many advantages in the end and some of them end up being very good.

  • ViennaCalling says:

    Very interesting. He’s a very fine violinist, but what exactly does qualify him as a conductor? Buying a stick and being part of the mighty agency Raab & Böhm is enough?

    I’m sorry, but a serious orchestra manager who knows about music & conducting never would hire him (or anyone else without substantial professional conducting experience) as a conductor. In my view the orchestra managers know less and less about music – that’s the real problem. They need to “trust” the “opinion” of big agencies – and they are good in talking and negotiating.

    I really appreciate Emmanuel as a great violinist of his generation, but please stay a serious musician and stop this BS.

    • FrauGeigerin says:

      Couldn’t agree more. I am sick of getting all these famous soloists-turned-conductors in my orchestra… but management people love them: people recognize their names; often they perform as soloist as well as “conduct” a concerto in the first half (the manager gets a famous soloist and a conductor for the price of one); agencies push them because they make even more money; and us (the orchestra) will over compensate for the soloist-conductor lack of skill/training/experience and the soloist-conductor with a supercharged ego thinks that he (it is usually a he) is a genius who – without any training – can conduct an orchestra. Do they think that those who go to conservatories/Musikhochschules for +4 years to learn to conduct are idiots who don’t know what they are doing when studying conducting?

      I suffer it as an orchestra player, but our beautiful art is suffering even more…

    • Saskia Ellmer says:

      Sorry, but Emmanuel has studied also conducting since 2014 first with his father Loris, later at the Music University in Vienna and he took master classes as a conductor in England and Italy. So he knows very well what he’s doing.

      • Klavidirigent says:

        Emmanuel is indeed an excellent violinist, but as a former student of the Institute für Musikleitung (that imparts the degrees in choral and orchestral conducting and Korrepetition) of the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien (MDW), and classmate in some courses, I can assure you that he was not a student of the Institute and did not study conducting at MDW (perhaps he took one of the basic conducting electives, was an observer in some lessons or paid for private lessons).

    • FrauGeigerin says:

      Agencies are a cancer that needs to be removed from classical music. They are the ones pushing mediocrity into the concert stage. I have experienced first hand the pressure that agencies put on orchestra musicians to give good feedback to the managers about a guest conductor; I have attended meetings where an agent manager threatened to remove a world-leading conductor and a major soloist from the next season if the music director did not give the concert with the soloist to a “young and upcoming” conductor to guest the concert; and I have overheard an agency owner tell the guest conductor after a concert with our orchestra “don’t worry, there will be a vote, but I made sure you will be the next principal conductor in X” (will not give the name of the city)…

  • Elena Vieru Conta says:

    Iosif Conta and Vladimir Conta

  • A-non says:

    Nepotism or rich family. Otherwise no chance to penetrate this circle.

    • MezzoLovert says:

      “Nepotism or rich family.”

      Try to tell that to the Kleibers.

      Erich Kleiber, Carlos’s father who took the family to Buenos Aires to escape the war in Europe, actually DISCOURAGED his son from pursuing a career in music. Carlos eventually rebelled against his domineering father and slowly worked his way up in small opera houses in Germany. Fighting under the tremendous pressure of his father, he even used the pseudonym Karl Keller when he made his conducting debut in Potsdam in 1954. But his father continued to publicly criticize his son, saying he would never get the rhythms right in Viennese waltzes. (Carlos ultimately proved him wrong, of course, with his two unforgettable New Year’s Concerts in Vienna, in 1989 and 1992.)

      For Carlos Kleiber, it was above all his natural talent and compulsive perfectionism, neither of which had anything to do with nepotism or family wealth.

  • C-Major says:

    Recognized him as a violinist.
    Boyish weak charisma will not prevail among the musicians-he is no alpha type. Just waving the baton will not be enough.
    But nepotism will help him especially in Vienna

  • Alasdair Munro says:

    Halsey, Del Mar?

  • We can talk about the father of Riccardo Chailly , Luciano. But he was maybe more famous as a composer.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Conductor Leopold Damrosch of Breslau, father of conductors Frank and Walter Damrosch (1862-1950) and music teacher Clara Mannes. Their paternal grandfather was Jewish. Walter and his father were active with the Met and New York Symphony Orchestra before it merged with the Philharmonic. Walter led the U.S. premier of “Parsifal”. As a boy I had a Columbia 78 of Walter speaking impressively, if theatrically, of the ‘Eroica” funeral march while playing it on the piano.

    Gennady Rozhdestvensky and his father, conductor Nikolai Anosov. Gennady took his mother’s family name to avoid confusion or charge of nepotism.

    Probably not more common among conductors than other family businesses.

  • Chiara says:

    Roberto Abbado and Uncle Claudio?

  • John Canarina says:

    Kurt Masur and his son Ken-David

  • Bruce says:

    Not super-famous, but Fabio Mechetti’s father Marcello was a respected choral conductor in Brazil. (Fabio was my orchestra’s music director for several years; he brought his father to co-conduct a program of opera choruses and it remains one of the highlights of my career.) His grandfather was a conductor too.

  • Nick says:

    Semyon Bychkov and his sibling, the late Yakov Kreizberg.

  • fred says:

    Bevenuto Franci and his son Carlo
    Fisher-Dieskau and his son

  • Edgar Self says:

    ßurprised to leaarn Walter Damrosch conducted th epremieres of Gershwin’s Concerto in F and “An American in Paris’, no doubt with Gershwin as soloist. Wasn’t it Paul Whiteman for “Rhapsoy in Blue”?, when the first clarinet improvised the long glissando it starts with?

    I used to see Paul Whiteman tooling down Broad Street, Philadelphia, in an open sports car much too small for him.

  • penguin says:

    Don’t forget Suzuki
    Masaaki, Hidemi(brother), Masato(son)

  • Edgar Self says:

    triple-decker: three conductor brothers, sons of a conductor: Eugen Jochum, born near Augsburg, his older brother Otto, and their younger brother Georg Ludwig of the Linz Bruckner Orchestra. Their father was a conductor and organist.

    Beecham might not have approved. Strolling through an English churchyard, he spied a gravestone reading “Here lies a great organist and fa ine musician.” “How do you suppose they got them both into such a small grave?” he mused.

  • Berndt says:

    Sakari Oramo and his son Taavi Oramo

  • Saskia Ellmer says:

    Emmanuel Tjeknavorian hasn’t study violin only but since 2014 also conducting. First his father teached him, later he joined a class at Hochschule für Musik in Vienna. He also took part in Master Classes for young conductors in England and in Italy.

  • Yoan says:

    Jésus Lopez-Cobos, and François López-Ferrer

  • Edgar Self says:

    Any mother-daughter conducting combintions yet, Norman? Even father-daughter?