Key Personnel Biographies
Michael Tilson Thomas
Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) assumed his post as the San Francisco Symphony’s (SFS) 11th Music Director in September 1995, consolidating a strong relationship with the Orchestra that began some two decades earlier. It was January of 1974 when he made his San Francisco Symphony conducting debut at the age of 29, leading the Orchestra in Mahler’s Symphony No. 9.
A Los Angeles native, he studied with John Crown and Ingolf Dahl at the University of Southern California, becoming Music Director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra at nineteen and working with Stravinsky, Boulez, Stockhausen, and Copland at the famed Monday Evening Concerts. In 1969, MTT won the Koussevitzky Prize and was appointed Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony. Ten days later he came to international recognition, replacing Music Director William Steinberg in mid-concert at Lincoln Center. He went on to become the BSO's Associate Conductor, then Principal Guest Conductor. He has also served as Director of the Ojai Fesitval, Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, a Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Principal Conductor of the Great Woods Festival. He became Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra in 1988 and now serves as Principal Guest Conductor. For a decade he served as co-Artistic Director of Japan's Pacific Music Festival, which he and Leonard Bernstein inaugurated in 1990, and he continues as Artistic Director of the New World Symphony, which he founded in 1988. MTT's recorded repertory reflects interests arising from his work as conductor, composer, and pianist. His television credits include the New York Philharmonic Young People's Concerts, and in 2004 he and the SFS launched Keeping Score on PBS-TV. Among his honors are Columbia University's Ditson Award for services to American music and Musical America's 1995 Conductor of the Year award. He is a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres of France, was selected as Gramophone 2005 Artist of the Year, was named one of America's Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2010 was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama.
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