Press Room


Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

(415) 503-5474
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Jan 10, 2024


MTT and the Orchestra celebrate 50 years performing Mahler together with these concerts; MTT made his debut with the Orchestra in January 1974, conducting Mahler’s Symphony No. 9, launching an unprecedented partnership

This program marks MTT’s final subscription series with the San Francisco Symphony

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Music Director Laureate Michael Tilson Thomas returns to the San Francisco Symphony January 25–27 to conduct his final subscription series program with the Orchestra. Featuring highly anticipated performances of Gustav Mahler’s masterful Symphony No. 5, the occasion celebrates MTT’s incredible legacy in San Francisco and marks both an unprecedented 50-year partnership between MTT and the Orchestra and 50 years since they first performed Mahler together. MTT made his San Francisco Symphony debut January 2–5, 1974, at age 29, conducting Mahler’s Symphony No. 9, and quickly became a frequent and favorite guest conductor with the Orchestra.

During his 25 years as Music Director from 1995 to 2020, Tilson Thomas and the SF Symphony were hailed among the world’s foremost Mahler interpreters, performing works by the composer every season and on 30 national and international tours. MTT and the Orchestra’s self-produced Mahler recording cycle on SFS Media, launched in 2001, encompassed all of Mahler’s symphonies and works for voice, chorus, and orchestra. The Mahler cycle has been recognized with seven Grammy Awards, including three Grammys for the recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 and the Adagio from Symphony No. 10. MTT was honored with a Gramophone “Artist of the Year” award in 2005 for the project.

During his tenure MTT pushed the boundaries of traditional orchestral performance through festivals like his “Festival of American Music” and “American Mavericks,” expanded the symphonic repertoire and explored new concert formats including memorable stagings of theatrical works such as Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, Beethoven’s Fidelio, Britten’s Peter Grimes, Bernstein’s On the Town, and his loving tribute to his grandparents, The Thomashefskys: Music and Memories of a Life in the Yiddish Theater. He has made a tremendous impact on the San Francisco Symphony and the entire classical music world as a conductor, composer, pianist, educator, mentor, and visionary.

MTT has championed the City of San Francisco through orchestral tours nationally and internationally, and frequently collaborated with Bay Area luminaries, composers, and bands. He helped expand the San Francisco Symphony’s education initiatives, affecting the lives of countless young people in San Francisco and beyond, as part of his deep commitment to education and mentorship of young people. Additionally, he created the acclaimed multimedia education series Keeping Score in 2004, making classical music more accessible to people of all ages and musical backgrounds.

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony’s recordings—many of them released through the Symphony’s own SFS Media label, which launched under MTT’s leadership—have been recognized with 12 Grammy® Awards. He is an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France, member of the American Academies of Arts & Sciences and Arts & Letters, National Medal of Arts recipient, Peabody Award winner, Kennedy Center Honoree, and a member of the California Hall of Fame.

In December 2023, Tilson Thomas was honored by Mayor London N. Breed, Speaker Emeritus Nancy Pelosi, and the City of San Francisco with the unveiling of new commemorative street signs, giving the 200 Block of Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street—home of Davies Symphony Hall—the honorary street name “MTT Way.”

Read more about Michael Tilson Thomas’s tenure with the San Francisco Symphony.

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Music Director Laureate Michael Tilson Thomas

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