Maestro Yuri Temirkanov
“Speaking about current performers: if Abbado is – class, Barenboim – charisma, Haitink – individuality, then Temirkanov is – genius, unpredictability, and brilliance.» A memorable Italian press response to the recent tour has once again confirmed that the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Yuri Temirkanov, is one of the stellar conductors of our time.
One of the latest tributes to his accomplishments was the invitation to stand behind the podium of the Stockholm Royal Philharmonic Orchestra during the concert honoring the Nobel Prize winners of 2009. A year earlier, Temirkanov became the first musician of the Russian Federation, to receive twice, the most prestigious music award of the Association of Italian music critics, the Abbiati Prize.
After that, the maestro was appointed Music Director of the Parma Royal Theatre (Teatro Regio di Parma, Italy) where his contract extends until the Verdi Festival in 2013, which will mark the 200-year anniversary of the composer.
The conductor’s intensive collaboration with world renowned ensembles has a long history. In 1978 Temirkanov started working with the London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and in 1992 he was appointed its Principal Conductor. From 1992 - 1997 he accepted the post of Principal Guest Conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra.
In 1998 he left the London Philharmonic for Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra (of which the meastro remains Principal Guest Conductor to this day). For six seasons (2000–2006) Temirkanov has served as Principal Conductor of the Baltimore Symphony.
However, the maestro confesses that throughout all these years his home has been and remains St Petersburg and the Grand Hall of the Philharmonia, where for two decades he has been head of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. It was in Russia’s Northern Capital that Temirkanov’s ascent of the conducting world’s Mount Olympus began. In 1966 the post-graduate student of the Leningrad Conservatoire (class of Professor Ilya Musin) won the II All-Union Conducting Competition and immediately became one of the most called-for conductors of his generation. Together with Kirill Kondrashin and David Oistrakh he travelled abroad and was invited to tour by orchestras in the USA, France and Germany. In early 1967 Temirkanov performed at the Grand Hall of the Philharmonia, after which Yevgeny Mravinsky offered him the post of assistant. From 1968 the conductor headed the Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Philharmonia. He broadened the ensemble’s repertoire and the orchestra frequently toured to Europe, Japan and the USA.
The maestro’s name is connected with the beginning of the rebirth of the Mariinsky (then the Kirov) Theatre. From 1976–1988 Temirkanov was its Artistic Director and Principal Conductor.
Over that period the repertoire expanded to include such masterpieces as Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and The Queen of Spades, Prokofiev’s War and Peace, Petrov’s Peter I and Shchedrin’s Dead Souls. Under Temirkanov, the company began to tour frequently (the USA, Japan and Europe) and the maestro revived the practice of symphony concerts with the theatre’s orchestra, which were also performed abroad.
“How is Temirkanov able to perform a miracle in his interpretations each time? – This remains an enigma. Genius – behind the great sound that springs lavishly from whatever orchestra that he may conduct, but especially when he performs with his St. Petersburgers” (« Il Sole 24 Ore», Milan, March 2010). Indeed, in the maestro’s own words, his priority is to work with the Honored Orchestra of Russia. As head of the orchestra since 1988, the conductor performs regularly with it both in St. Petersburg and abroad.
In 2005 under Temirkanov’s baton, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic became the first Russian orchestra to open the concert season at the world-famous Carnegie Hall (in late 2007 as part of a major US tour the ensemble once again performed there). And in 2006–2007 the maestro revived the orchestra’s tours of Russia with concerts in Moscow and cities in Siberia.
Last season, the maestro conducted the orchestra’s concerts in St. Petersburg, Moscow and cities in Italy, Austria, Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Greece, Hungary, Romania and Croatia. The geography of the 2010/2011 season engagements encompasses Europe, Asia and North America (USA).
The conductor has received many prizes, awards and honorary titles. People’s Artist of the USSR Yuri Temirkanov is the recipient of State Prizes, the Russian Presidential Prize and the Abbiati Prize as «Best conductor of the year» (2003, 2007), Cavallier of several orders (including «For services to the Fatherland», 2nd class). In 2007 the maestro became an honorary member of the Accademia Santa Cecilia. He is also an honorary doctor of St. Petersburg Conservatory and honorary citizen of St. Petersburg.
Despite his intensive performing schedule, the musician’s life extends beyond the concert stage. To preserve and develop the legacy of Petersburg’s spiritual life he formed the Maestro Temirkanov International Foundation for Cultural Initiatives. In 1998 the conductor founded the Temirkanov Prize, which is awarded each year to the best pupils of the St Petersburg Conservatoire Lyceum.
Each year the jewel of the Saint Petersburg winter music festival season is “Arts Square” Festival, under the artistic direction of Temirkanov, which gathers prominent musicians in our city. This year, the XI festival will be held under the banner of Year of France– Russia. Maestro Temirkanov and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic present the works by Ravel, Liadov, Mussorgsky and Stravinsky.