Andris Nelsons, 34, Named BSO’s New Music Director – Youngest Lead Conductor in 100 Years

Boston, MA: Andris Nelsons has been appointed the 15th Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since its founding in 1881. The announcement was made today by Chairman of the BSO Board of Trustees Ted Kelly, BSO Board of Trustees Vice Chairs Stephen B. Kay and Robert O’Block, and BSO Managing Director Mark Volpe, following a meeting of the orchestra’s Board of Trustees earlier in the day at Symphony Hall. At 34 years old, Andris Nelsons is the youngest music director to lead the Boston Symphony Orchestra in over 100 years; he is also the first Latvian-born conductor to take on the post.

Andris Nelsons. Photo by Stu Rosner.

Andris Nelsons. Photo by Stu Rosner.

“It is absolutely thrilling for us to announce the appointment of Andris Nelsons as the next Boston Symphony Orchestra Music Director,” said Ted Kelly. “Sought after by the top orchestras and opera houses of the world, Maestro Nelsons, at age 34, is already considered one of the most brilliant conductors of our time. We are very fortunate that Mr. Nelsons, as the BSO’s next music director, will bring his extraordinary ability to lead powerfully moving and insightful performances to the next chapter in the orchestra’s storied history. As the BSO continues to realize its mission of bringing the highest standards of music making to an ever-growing live and online audience, I believe Andris Nelsons’ unique creativity and visionary instincts will bring a remarkable inspiration to all the BSO’s endeavors.”

“I am deeply honored and touched that the Boston Symphony Orchestra has appointed me its next music director, as it is one of the highest achievements a conductor could hope for in his lifetime,” said Andris Nelsons. “Each time I have worked with the BSO I have been inspired by how effectively it gets to the heart of the music, always leaving its audience with a great wealth of emotions. So it is with great joy that I truly look forward to joining this wonderful musical family and getting to know the beautiful city of Boston and the community that so clearly loves its great orchestra. As I consider my future with the Boston Symphony, I imagine us working closely together to bring the deepest passion and love that we all share for music to ever greater numbers of music fans in Boston, at Tanglewood, and throughout the world.”



Mr. Nelson’s will make his first visit to Boston since being appointed the next Ray and Maria Stata Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in late June, with an exact date and further information about the visit to be announced in a few weeks. Prior to his Boston visit in June, Mr. Nelsons will guest conduct Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw Orchestra, Munich’s Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Leipzig’s Gewandhaus Orchestra, as well as lead concerts with his City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall in Birmingham and on tour in seven cities in Germany, Belgium, and France.


Checking our weekly Tanglewood Calendar, we find one concert with the new Music Director. And what a spectacular work he has chosen, To mark the bicentennial of Verdi’s birth in 1813, Latvian the new Music Director Andris Nelsons has already been planned for the Tanglewood 2013 programs. He will appear on Saturday, July 27 to lead a performance of the Verdi’s Requiem with soprano Kristīne Opolais, mezzo-soprano Lioba Braun, tenor Dmytro Popov, bass Ferruccio Furlanetto, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. (To see the complete Tanglewood rundown [click here.]


Andris Nelsons will take on the title of BSO Music Director in the 2014-15 season for an initial five year commitment, leading 8-10 weeks of programs during the BSO’s 2014-15 subscription season in Symphony Hall in Boston; he will lead 12 weeks of programs each subsequent year of the five-year contract. Mr. Nelsons will also lead several programs each season at Tanglewood, the orchestra’s summer music festival in the Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts.

Maestro Nelsons will act as BSO Music Director Designate for the BSO’s 2013-14 season, making his first appearance in that official capacity October 17-19, leading Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 in C, with soloist Paul Lewis, and Brahms’s Symphony No. 3; he returns to the BSO podium on March 6, 2014 to lead a performance of Strauss’s Salome. Prior to his Symphony Hall engagements as BSO Music Director Designate next fall and winter, Mr. Nelsons will make an appearance at Tanglewood on July 27, leading the BSO, a quartet of internationally acclaimed singers, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus in a performance of Verdi’s monumental Requiem. Mr. Nelsons succeeds James Levine, who was music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 2004 to 2011. Mr. Nelsons is the third youngest conductor to be appointed BSO music director since the orchestra’s founding in 1881: Georg Henschel was 31 when he became the orchestra’s first music director in 1881, and Arthur Nikisch was 33 when he opened his first season with the orchestra in 1889.

“All of us at the BSO are incredibly proud to be part of this landmark moment in the BSO’s 132-year history, as we announce the appointment of Andris Nelsons as the next Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra,” said Mark Volpe. “With the appointment of such legendary leaders as Serge Koussevitzky, Charles Munch, Erich Leinsdorf, Seiji Ozawa, and James Levine, the BSO has always drawn the world’s top conductors to lead its orchestra and inspire its audiences. We believe that Andris Nelsons will further the BSO’s proud standing as one of the world’s greatest orchestras and bring his singular musical gifts to the orchestra and its countless fans in Boston, across the nation, and around the globe.”

“I am thrilled that Andris Nelsons is being appointed as our new Music Director,” said BSO Concertmaster Malcolm Lowe. “On behalf of the musicians of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, I want to express our excitement and anticipation of working closely with Andris Nelsons to bring great music and performances to our audiences in Boston and around the world. Maestro Nelsons has an acute awareness and appreciation of the tremendous legacy of the Boston Symphony and he is passionately intent on expanding, focusing, and energizing our future. It is clear that the joy and love of music is at the heart of Maestro Nelsons’ music making. His musical center, knowledge, and artistically searching human spirit, along with his youthful exuberance, will inspire that future. I think the appointment of Maestro Nelsons will be a great celebration of music.”


The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director Search Committee is made up of members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, BSO Board of Trustees, and management leadership team. The committee is co-chaired by BSO Board of Trustees Vice Chairs Stephen B. Kay and Robert O’Block, with other trustee members including Ted Kelly (BSO Chairman of the Board) and Paul Buttenwieser and Joyce Linde (trustees). Other members of the committee include orchestra members Edward Gazouleas (viola), Jason Horowitz (violin), Malcolm Lowe (concertmaster), Robert Sheena (English horn), and James Sommerville (principal horn); and management staff members Mark Volpe (BSO Managing Director) and Anthony Fogg (BSO Artistic Administrator).


Andris Nelsons Bio

Andris Nelsons is one of the most sought-after conductors on the international scene today, earning distinction on both the opera and concert podiums, including those of the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Metropolitan Opera and Vienna State Opera. He is also a regular podium presence at the Bayreuth Festival. Mr. Nelsons’ tenure since 2008 as Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) has earned critical acclaim. Born in Riga in 1978 into a family of musicians, Mr. Nelsons began his career as a trumpeter in the Latvian National Opera Orchestra before studying conducting. He is married to the soprano Kristine Opolais, who recently received wide acclaim in her Metropolitan Opera debut as Magda in Puccini’s “La Rondine.” They live in Riga with their 17-month old daughter Adriana.

Andris Nelsons made his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut in March 2011, leading Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 at Carnegie Hall in place of James Levine. Last summer he conducted both the Boston Symphony Orchestra (in Ravel’s La Valse) and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra (in Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy with Anne-Sophie Mutter) as part of Tanglewood’s gala 75th-anniversary concert, following that the next day with a BSO concert pairing Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms and Brahms’s Symphony No. 2. Mr. Nelsons made his Symphony Hall debut with the BSO this past January, leading a program of Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with soloist Baiba Skride and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5.

With the CBSO Mr Nelsons is undertaking major tours worldwide, including regular appearances at such summer festivals as the Lucerne Festival, BBC Proms and Berliner Festspiele. Together they have toured the major European concert halls, including the Musikverein, Vienna, Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Paris, Gasteig, Munich and the Auditorio Nacional de Música, Madrid. Nelsons made his debut in Japan on tour with Wiener Philharmoniker and returns to tour the Far East with the CBSO in November 2013.

Nelsons and the CBSO are working towards releasing all orchestral works of Tchaikovsky and Richard Strauss for Orfeo International. The first Strauss disc, featuring Ein Heldenleben, garnered critical praise. Further releases include works of Stravinsky and Shostakovich. The majority of Mr. Nelsons’ recordings have been recognized with a Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik; in October 2011 he received the prestigious ECHO Klassik of the German Phono Academy in the category “Conductor of the Year” for his 2010 recording with the CBSO of Stravinsky’s Firebird and Symphony of Psalms. For audiovisual recordings, he has an exclusive agreement with Unitel GmbH, the most recent release is a disc of Britten’s War Requiem with the CBSO, released on DVD and Blu-ray.

Prior to his position as Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Nelsons served as principal conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, Germany, from 2006 to 2009, and was music director of the Latvian National Opera from 2003 to 2007.

A Brief History of the Boston Symphony Orchestra

Now in its 132nd season, the Boston Symphony Orchestra gave its inaugural concert in 1881, realizing the dream of its founder, the Civil War veteran and noted American businessman and philanthropist Henry Lee Higginson, who envisioned a great and permanent orchestra in his hometown of Boston. Today the BSO reaches millions of listeners, not only through its concert performances in Boston and at Tanglewood, the orchestra’s summer home, but also via the internet, radio, television, educational programs, recordings, and tour performances at concert halls and summer festivals throughout the country and around the world. The BSO commissions works from today’s most important composers; its summer season at Tanglewood in western Massachusetts is among the world’s most important music festivals; it helps develop future audiences through BSO Youth Concerts and educational outreach programs involving the Boston community; and, during the Tanglewood season, it operates the Tanglewood Music Center, one of the world’s most important training grounds for young professional-caliber musicians. In addition, the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, which celebrates its 50th anniversary during the 2013-14 season, is recognized internationally as one of the world’s most distinguished chamber music ensembles sponsored by a major symphony orchestra and made up of principal players from that orchestra.

The Boston Pops Orchestra, established in 1885, sets an international standard for performances of lighter music. In 1929 free outdoor concerts on the Charles River Esplanade were inaugurated by Arthur Fiedler, a member of the orchestra since 1915, who in 1930 became the eighteenth conductor of the Boston Pops. Fiedler was Pops conductor for half a century, being followed by John Williams in 1980 and Keith Lockhart in 1995. The Boston Pops’ annual July 4 concert on the Charles River Esplanade draws a crowd of close to 500,000 each year and celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2013; it has been televised both locally and nationally over the course of the event’s recent history.

Launched in 1996, the Boston Symphony Orchestra website,, is the largest and most-visited orchestral website in the United States, receiving approximately 7 million visitors annually on its full site as well as its smart phone-/mobile device-friendly web format. In addition, the BSO is on Facebook and Twitter, and video content from the BSO is available on YouTube. The BSO’s website offers not only comprehensive access to all BSO, Boston Pops, Tanglewood, and Symphony Hall performance schedules, but also a Media Center providing access to radio broadcast streams of select BSO, Boston Pops, and Tanglewood concerts; audio concert preview podcasts; complete program notes for all BSO and Tanglewood performances; interviews with guest artists and BSO musicians; and excerpts of music highlighting upcoming programs. The Media Center also offers visitors the opportunity to purchase and download—from its own music label, BSO Classics—self-produced albums featuring the BSO, Boston Pops, Boston Symphony Chamber Players, Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center, as well as historic broadcast performances from both Symphony Hall and Tanglewood. From online master classes with Tanglewood Music Center Fellows, to specially designed webcast series with such renowned composers as John Harbison and Elliott Carter, to a special section devoted to games for young children, the BSO’s website offers visitors a great variety of online programs to appeal to a wide spectrum of interest levels.

An expansion of the BSO’s educational activities has also played a key role in strengthening the orchestra’s commitment to, and presence within, its surrounding communities. Through its Education and Community Engagement programs, the Boston Symphony Orchestra provides individuals of all backgrounds the opportunity to develop and build relationships with the BSO and orchestral music. Among these offerings are BSO Youth Concerts at Symphony Hall; Family Concerts at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood; master classes, mentorship programs, classroom opportunities, and conducting and performance workshops for schools and educators; Open Rehearsals for high school students; Education Resource Centers in Boston and the Berkshires; and community-wide chamber music concerts performed by BSO musicians. In addition, the BSO offers its patrons many free educational programs associated with its concert series at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood, where there are also special programs designed for the BSO’s young audience members, who are perhaps visiting the orchestra’s summer home for the first time. In addition to a wide variety of educational programs, the BSO also offers an impressive number of ticket programs designed to make attending a BSO concert in Boston or at Tanglewood especially appealing to high school and college students as well as young professionals.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s endowment of $413 million (March 31, 2013) is the largest endowment of any orchestra in the world; with an operating budget of $84 million, the BSO also has one of the largest operating budgets. Through its worldwide activities and more than 250 concerts annually, the Boston Symphony Orchestra continues to fulfill and expand upon the vision of its founder Henry Lee Higginson, while also remaining keenly aware of the possibilities offered by modern innovations in the realms of media, technology, and education.

The BSO gave its inaugural concert on October 22, 1881, under Georg Henschel, who remained as conductor until 1884. For nearly twenty years, Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts were held in the old Boston Music Hall; Symphony Hall, one of the world’s most revered concert halls, opened on October 15, 1900. Henschel was succeeded by the German-born and -trained conductors Wilhelm Gericke, Arthur Nikisch, Emil Paur, and Max Fiedler, culminating in the appointment of the legendary Karl Muck, who served two tenures, 1906-08 and 1912-18. In 1915 the orchestra made its first transcontinental trip, playing thirteen concerts at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. Henri Rabaud, engaged as conductor in 1918, was succeeded a year later by Pierre Monteux. These appointments marked the beginning of a French tradition maintained, even during the Russian-born Serge Koussevitzky’s tenure (1924-49), with the employment of many French-trained musicians.

It was in 1936 that Koussevitzky led the orchestra’s first concerts in the Berkshires; he and the players took up annual summer residence at Tanglewood a year later. Koussevitzky passionately shared Major Higginson’s dream of “a good honest school for musicians,” and in 1940 that dream was realized with the founding of the Berkshire Music Center (now called the Tanglewood Music Center). Koussevitzky was succeeded in 1949 by Charles Munch, who continued supporting contemporary composers, introduced much French music to the repertoire, and led the BSO on its first international tours. In 1956, the BSO, under the direction of Charles Munch, was the first American orchestra to tour the Soviet Union. Erich Leinsdorf began his term as music director in 1962, to be followed in 1969 by William Steinberg. Seiji Ozawa became the BSO’s thirteenth music director in 1973. His historic twenty-nine-year tenure extended until 2002, when he was named Music Director Laureate. In 1979, the BSO, under the direction of Seiji Ozawa, was the first American orchestra to tour mainland China after the normalization of relations.

Bernard Haitink, named Principal Guest Conductor in 1995 and Conductor Emeritus in 2004, has led the BSO in Boston, New York, at Tanglewood, and on tour in Europe, as well as recording with the orchestra. The late Sir Colin Davis, from 1972 to 1984, and Michael Tilson Thomas, from 1972 to 1974, have also held the title of Principal Guest Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

The first American-born conductor to hold the position, James Levine was the BSO’s music director from 2004 to 2011. Levine led the orchestra in wide-ranging programs that included works newly commissioned for the orchestra’s 125th anniversary, particularly from significant American composers; issued a number of live concert performances on the orchestra’s own label, BSO Classics; taught at the Tanglewood Music Center; and insummer 2007 led the BSO in an acclaimed tour of European music festivals.

Today, the Boston Symphony Orchestra continues to fulfill and expand upon the vision of its founder Henry Lee Higginson, not only through its concert performances, educational offerings, and internet presence, but also through its expanding use of virtual and electronic media in a manner that reflects the BSO’s continuing awareness of today’s modern, ever-changing, 21st-century world.

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