Unsung maestro of Russian music turns 90

Unsung maestro of Russian music turns 90


norman lebrecht

August 08, 2022

Barely noticed either at home or abroad, the vastly respected conductor Vladimir Fedoseyev turned 90 this weekend.

Never an attention seeker, Fedoseyev was among the most reliable performers of Russian music, with a career that encompassed Moscow, Vienna and Tokyo.

Head of the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio from 1974 to 1999, and again from 2006 on, he was also chief conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra from 1997 to 2005 and principal guest conductor of the Tokyo Philharmonic. He is presently music director of Helikon-Opera in Moscow.


  • Bonetti Micaela says:

    Wonderful conductor and modest person. Loved and respected.
    Happy birthday, Maestro!

  • MacroV says:

    You have your dates slightly wrong; he was head of the Tchaikovsky SO when I lived in Moscow 2004-6. I saw him conduct a number of times; a marvelous conductor, and with the Russian National Orchestra probably the best band in town.

  • Fabio Luisi says:

    Congratulations, Maestro! A wonderful conductor and a great ambassador of Russian culture. I remember him reading Pushkin at a party given by Vienna’s Mayor several years ago in honor of the Wiener Symphoniker.

    • Carlo Romano says:

      Grande direttore, ho suonato con lui molte volte, anche questa Sinfonia di Ciaikowski, ricordo un’esecuzione fantastica al Lingotto di Torino con l’Osn Rai….

  • J Barcelo says:

    Unsung? Not to record collectors. Anyone who collects music of Glazunov, Tchaikovsky, Arensky, or any of the Mighty Five know him well although we don’t always think well of him. The way he re-writes scores of great composers is disgraceful. The barbaric treatment of Tchaikovsky’s Manfred at his hands is just one godawful example. Maybe in contemporary Russia he’s one of the best, but he’s not even close to Mravinsky, Kondrashin, Roszdestvensky, Gauk, or even Svetlanov.

    • Luis says:

      Even Svetlanov? Svetlanov was the best of all of them.

    • Novagerio says:

      Señor Barceló: Naming him in the same breath with Mravinsky, Kondrashin, Roszdestvensky, Gauk – “or even” Svetlanov is a musical sin. (In fact, Svetlanov was a genius of orchestral colour)
      – Or Temirkanov, another conductor of genius.

  • Tony Sanderson says:

    A very worthwhile post homouring this unsung hero of Russian music.

  • Novagerio says:

    And yet, the “respected Russian maestro” had to completely screw up Donohoe’s fantastic performance in Moscow 1982

    Doesn’t he know his own music? (1;12)

  • JohnG says:

    The Tchaikovsky ‘cycle’ from the 1990s on DVD (with Pletnev playing the piano concertos) is very good. I remember a very persuasive, exciting Tchaikovsky 5th with the Moscow RSO at the Festival Hall and, as an encore, a gloriously madcap (percussionist thumping the tambourine for all his worth!) jesters’ dance from The Snow Maiden.

  • Uncle Sam says:

    Here are some of the Maestro Fedoseyev (and his glorious orchestra) signature showcases:

    Sviridov’s “Musical Illustrations to the Pushkin’s novel “Snowstorm”, recorded here in 1984 and (in better video and sound) – earlier this year:



    and Sviridov’s no less famous “Time, Forward!” piece from a namesake movie score (video from 1987 and an earlier but better recorded audio):



  • Clarrieu says:

    “vastly respected conductor” hmm… that was not Richter’s opinion (see his diary as quoted in Monsaingeon’s book)

  • Gustavo says:

    Interesting, I would have expected him to be accused of closeness to Putin and artistic mediocrity.

    Fedoseyev actually features in my record collection with some Stravinsky, and I once saw him in Zurich with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra playing Shostakovich’s 11th (followed by a live-to-screen performance of “Battleship Potemkin” conducted by Frank Strobel).

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Not so unsung. I seem to recall a fair amount of Fedoseyev being available (and broadcast on radio) during the LP era. I particularly recall a vivid and exciting LP that paired Taneyev’s Symphony No. 2 and the John of Damascus cantata. I should dig it out and take a fresh listen. That was a time when ABC/Westminster was picking up interesting Melodiya items that EMI and/or Columbia Masterworks evidently took a pass on, but for a brief while at least a pretty good swath of the Melodiya catalog had American distribution and Fedoseyev was certainly a name I recall being mentioned often enough on local classical radio.

  • Andrey Martynov says:

    Dear Norman,

    Your dates are slightly wrong. Vladimir Fedoseev never left the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra (Moscow Radio Symphony). He has led this orchestra for almost 50 years – from 1974 to the present.

    Vladimir Fedoseev is also the music director of Helikon Opera in Moscow.

    On Discogs there are about 380 releases of records and CDs with his participation, published including RCA Victor and Deutsche Grammophon. Of these, I especially recommend amazing Russian operas, a wonderful cycle of symphonies and concertos by Tchaikovsky, symphonies by Shostakovich and other Russian classics.


  • Jobim75 says:

    I never understood how japanese orchestras can be so good technically and so dull emotionally. Even Svetlanov cannot have a convincing Tchaikovsky 4th…. maybe too disciplined. People of such culture and enthusiasm for classical….. just no clue….