MTT and the SF Symphony’s first performance at Carnegie Hall, November 1996


Embracing Experimentation


MTT’s second season features a far-out festival that examines the intersections of the sacred and the profane, spiritual calamity and salvation. Its provocative theme and the Orchestra’s virtuosic performances put MTT’s artistic vision into spectacular focus. It’s clear that MTT’s instinct is to think differently; even more radical is the ease with which he inspires audiences to embrace experimentation.

Michael Tilson Thomas
The New York Times, reviewing a 1996 SF Symphony performance of Ives’ Holidays Symphony at Carnegie Hall


MTT is at it again in spring 1997, when the San Francisco Symphony presents Celebrations of the Sacred & Profane, a festival of music sparked by the friction between our earthiest desires and our most spiritual aspirations. Pairing Mozart, Schubert, and J.S. Bach, with Giancinto Scelsi, Terry Riley, and Kurt Weill, and featuring an appearance as co-host by Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead, the unorthodox and edgy festival is a massive hit: The colossal audience response is described as “lusty” in more than one outlet.

Phil Lesh, Steven Mackey, Terry Riley, David Del Tredici, Lou Harrison, MTT, and John Adams
David Del Tredici and MTT at the Celebrations of the Sacred & Profane Festival, June 1997

Henze: Erlkönig Fantasy 
(US premiere)  

Scelsi: Aion 
(US premiere) 

Christina King (Viola) 


European Tour

The November 1996 European Tour with violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter is MTT’s first tour of Europe with the San Francisco Symphony.

Anne-Sophie Mutter and MTT greet German Chancellor Helmut Kohl & Mrs. Kohl

New York City, US, Carnegie Hall

London, England, Barbican Centre

Manchester, England, The Bridgewater Hall

Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Concertgebouw

Brussels, Belgium, Palais des Beaux Arts

Paris, France, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées

Cologne, Germany, Philharmonie

Düsseldorf, Germany, Tonhalle

Hamburg, Germany, Grosse Musikhalle

Berlin, Germany, Philharmonie

Vienna, Austria, Grosser Saal, Musikvereinssaal

Munich, Germany, Philharmonie am Gasteig

Stuttgart, Germany, Liederhalle

Darlene Gray, SF Symphony violinist since 1982

Tune in to KDFC at 3pm daily for “MTT Time”—special concert broadcasts from each year of MTT’s historic tenure, featuring commentary from MTT himself.

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