Just in: Julian Rachlin gets an orchestra

Just in: Julian Rachlin gets an orchestra


norman lebrecht

January 25, 2023

The Lithuanian-born Austrian violinist is about to be named music director of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, starting in October.

Rachlin, 48, has enjoyed an extensive solo career. Over the past decade he has added guest conducting to his brief, but this will be the first time he has achieved a music director role.

He is also about to become principal conductor in Kristiansand, Norway. Rachlin is married to the Canadian violinist Sarah McElravy.

The JSO is a former radio orchestra that has endured conductors of varying ability in the 21st century – chiefly, the American college president Leon Botstein and the French composer and pianist Frédéric Chaslin. It has recently improved under the American-Israeli condcutor Steven Sloane, but Rachlin will have a challenge to raise it to international standard.

He says: ‘I’m immensely grateful and excited to take on this new role. Having performed regularly in Israel over the last 35 years, the trust the musicians and the City of Jerusalem have placed in me is particularly meaningful. I’m incredibly fortunate to work with such highly skilled artists and such a highly motivated team in a city where I feel very much at home, and can’t wait to embark on this joint musical journey.’

Zelig Rabinovitz, Chair of the JSO Board of Directors, says: ‘The orchestra was looking for a strong and dedicated leader to enhance its artistic excellence, and elevate the organization’s profile globally. We have found that leader in Julian Rachlin, and we are exceedingly
happy to welcome him in Jerusalem!’


  • Isendor says:

    Has he ever conducted the orchestra? No, never! It’s all politics.

    • Helen Kamioner says:

      I beg your pardon but Rachlin is a superb musician and very connected and will bring a lot to Israel, especially Jerusalem…then here, here to those kind of politics

      • Isendor says:

        He could very well be a wonderful musician; I’ve heard him as violinist more than once.

        Still, he never conducted the orchestra. So to appoint him as music director raises the eyebrows, to say the least.

  • Helen Kamioner says:

    Absolutely Fabulous and hat tip to the Orchestra’s management for this decision. Kol Hakavod

  • Evan Tucker says:

    I realize that ‘varying ability’ is probably a dig at Leon Botstein – who is one of the most incompetent conductors on the circuit, but Frederic Chaslin is one of the most underrated names right now, and deserves a lot better.

  • Michel Lemieux says:

    What was the story with Steven Sloane? He didn’t last long there.

    Rachlin is an excellent musician. He can hopefully clean house and hire some of the recent Russian and Ukrainian musicians who have recently immigrated to Israel.

  • Achim Mentzel says:

    The business is dismantling itself more and more every day. It is already critical to bind a conductor to an orchestra in the long term after only one project. But without him even having stood in front of the orchestra once? It is astonishing that obviously no one from the orchestra musicians is bothered. It is understandable that a big name brings reputation with it. But what good is all this if the collaboration doesn’t work on a human and perhaps also musical level? Shouldn’t this be tried out at least once?

  • Israeli Ex-pat Music Lover says:

    With all due respect to Mr. Rachlin and his accomplishments as a violinist, he has never been a music director (which as far as I know was a prerequisite in the application process at the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra).

    Seeing how so many Israeli full-time conductors have made big and successful careers for themselves all over the world, I cannot understand why the orchestra would chose to ignore them all and take a foreign name who has never worked with the orchestra before as music director – even a famous soloist like Julian Rachlin! I am sure that at least some of these Israelis must have applied for this post and would have been just as qualified professionally, if not more so.

    I guess some applicants are more equal than others.

  • Martinu says:

    Look at Rachlin’s website and see which orchestras he has conducted. Many.
    And regarding the orchestra – last week they gave Mahler 6 under Leon Botstein – a superb performance, very well played. Pity they are no more a “radio orchestra”, so the concert was not recorded.