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Biography

Conductor

Music Director Designate

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; and Artist-in-Association of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet. He recently joined the faculty of the Colburn School in Los Angeles, where he leads the Negaunee Conducting Program. He is the Conductor Laureate for both the Swedish Radio Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Mr. Salonen co-founded the annual Baltic Sea festival, serving as artistic director from 2003 to 2018.
 
In 2019–20, Mr. Salonen takes the Philharmonia Orchestra on tour to Europe and Asia and completes Weimar Berlin: Bittersweet Metropolis, a concert series celebrating Weimar-era German composers. He also begins his first Ring cycle with the Finnish National Opera, conducting Das Rheingold in the fall and Die Walküre in the spring. Recent seasons have seen Mr. 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 iPad app The Orchestra.          
 
This season, eleven of Mr. Salonen’s works are programmed around the world, including Nyx, at the Aspen Music Festival; his piano and violin concertos, at the Philharmonic Orchestra of Hradec Králové and Santa Cruz Symphony, respectively; and his Cello Concerto, at the SWR Symphony and Tampere Philharmonic. He conducts his Cello Concerto on tour with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Truls Mørk, Violin Concerto with the San Francisco Symphony and Leila Josefowicz, and his new piece, Castor, in its world premiere with the Los Angeles and New York philharmonics, alongside its 2018 companion piece, Pollux.
 
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. This season, he brings his Weimar programming to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducting works by Hindemith, Weill, and Schoenberg.
 
Mr. Salonen has an extensive and varied recording career. An album of Henri Dutilleux’s Correspondances, recorded with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France in the presence of the composer, was released in 2013 by Deutsche Grammophon on the composer’s ninety-seventh birthday. Also that year, Sony released a two-disc set with Mr. Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonc of the orchestral works of Witold Lutosławski, to honor the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Mr. Salonen’s most recent recordings include a release of his Cello Concerto with Yo-Yo Ma, released by Sony, a disc of Stravinsky’s Perséphone, released by Pentatone Music, and a sixty-one-disc box set of all Mr. Salonen’s recordings for Sony.