Gangnam-style conductor turns 80

Gangnam-style conductor turns 80


norman lebrecht

February 10, 2021

We’ve had one dose of fun with Yuri Simonov this week, ahead of his 80th birthday next month.

Here’s the video that made his fame in parts of the world other conductors cannot reach.



  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Good gracious how does he get work?

  • Camille says:

    Why is Joe Biden featured on your humane society ads Norm? Animals not pitiful enough??

  • Greg Bottini says:

    It’s “Gangnam”….

  • CR Wang says:

    The face is similar to Mark Elder? Not the calisthenic conducting style. Thank heavens.

  • Bone says:

    I hope I still can move like Yuri when I’m 80.
    Just not in public. Nor whilst leading an ensemble.
    Well, maybe a saxophone ensemble.

  • Daniel Poulin says:

    When musicians join in the fun! Yuri Simonov conducts Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsody No. 1

  • BruceB says:

    This is funny!

    I’ve always been impressed with how things sound when he conducts; hadn’t actually laid eyes on him until this past week, with these videos. It’s a bit … more than I was expecting, but whatever works.

  • Alexander T says:

    I saw him in concert with the LSO in the eighties. The whole thing was very underwhelming in spite of the histrionics (in fact I remember the two front-desk violinists exchanging sarcastic glances every now and sgain as Mr. Simomov jumped about the podium whilst conducting a very uninspiring Symphonie Fantastique).

    • Marfisa says:

      Interesting. Was it the conductor’s style or the orchestra’s uptight attitude (typical Brits) that made it uninspiring?

  • Marfisa says:

    Today’s research challenge: Gangnam-Style; career of Yuri Simonov. Both brilliant, in their very different ways. Thanks to SD for directing us to so many diverse musical matters.

  • Robert Slotover says:

    Dear Norman, Thanks for dredging this spoof video up for Mo. Simonov’s 80th birthday. He was Mravinsky’s assistant and preferred successor with the Leningrad Philharmonic before becoming the first Soviet to win an international Conductor’s competition (Santa Cecilia, 1969). After that the Bolshoi Theatre invited him to conduct ‘Aida’ following which thay appointed him Chief Conductor. He remained there until 1985 – their golden period. He led the company on tours to New York, Paris and elsewhere. Sol Hurok was so impressed with him that when Simonov returned to the Grand Hotel after a performance at the Opera he found he had been upgraded to a suite. His London concert debut replacing Abbado with the LSO required him to learn ‘Die Erwartung’ overnight. The LSO were so impressed they engaged him for a 7 – concert Tchaikovsky series the next season. This is also the man who taught at the Moscow Conservatoire for decades. He has been Chief Conductor of the Moscow Philharmonic for 23 years and has raised them to a first class ensemble. So his style may be graphic but don’t be deceived. He is in his way one of the great conductors. PS. Don’t forget to trot out ‘Gangnam’ for his 90th birthday.