Esa-Pekka Salonen

Composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen’s restless innovation drives him constantly to reposition classical music in the twenty-first century. He is Music Director Designate of the San Francisco Symphony, which he first conducted in 2004; Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor for the Philharmonia Orchestra (through the 2020-21 season); and Conductor Laureate for both the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He is the Artist-in-Association at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet, where he will conduct his first full Ring cycle in future seasons, and Pelléas et Mélisande this season. Mr. Salonen co-founded the annual Baltic Sea festival, serving as Artistic Director from 2003 to 2018.  

Thirteen of Mr. Salonen’s works are programmed around the world during the 2018-19 season, including Homunculus, for string quartet; Helix, at the Minnesota Orchestra and Oslo Philharmonic; and LA Variations at the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He also conducts his own Pollux at the Helsinki Festival and Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, and his Cello Concerto on tour with the Philharmonia and at the Baltic Sea Festival, with Truls Mørk as soloist. Last season Mr. Salonen’s music was featured as part of close artistic partnerships with the New York Philharmonic and London’s Barbican Centre.

2018-19 sees Mr. Salonen conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra on tour across Europe, the US, and Asia. He will also direct a new Ivo Van Hove production of Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in summer 2019. Recent years have seen Salonen experiment with groundbreaking ways to present music, with the first major virtual-reality production from a UK symphony orchestra; the award-winning RE-RITE and Universe of Sound installations; and the much-hailed iPad app, The Orchestra.

As the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for seventeen years, Mr. Salonen was instrumental in helping the orchestra to open Walt Disney Concert Hall; presided over countless premieres of contemporary work; and began the Esa-Pekka Salonen Commissions Fund. In spring 2019 he brings a three-part Stravinsky series that he created at the Philharmonia to the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Mr. Salonen has an extensive and varied recording career. An album of Henri Dutilleux’s Correspondances, recorded with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, was released in 2013 by Deutsche Grammophon on the composer’s 97th birthday. Also that year, Sony released a two-disc set of the orchestral works of Witold Lutosławski with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, in what would have been the composer’s 100th year. An album of five of Mr. Salonen’s orchestral works is available on Sony. His most recent recordings include a disc of Stravinsky’s Perséphone, released by Pentatone Music, and a 61-disc box set of all his Sony recordings. 2019 sees the release of the premiere recording of Salonen’s Cello Concerto with Yo-Yo Ma and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

(January 2019)