Esa Pekka Salonen conducts Stravinsky's Firebird

Last week, Esa-Pekka Salonen handed over the artistic leadership of the LA Phil to Gustavo Dudamel. My tribute:

  1. He writes nice music that people might want to listen to.
  2. Unlike some conductors, he has the humility to share the limelight with the orchestra at which he silently waves his arms.
  3. You know the LA Phil would follow him anywhere. Except back to Finland, obviously.
  4. I can never remember how to spell his name, but Google always knows who I mean. Suck on that, MTT.
  5. His musical guidance is the primary reason that there is now a world-class orchestra on the West coast of the United States, and he has shown repeatedly that an arts organization can be vibrantly creative and financially viable.
  6. He spent sixteen years in LA and became a better, more down-to-Earth artist for it. How many people can say that?
  7. He was responsible for the first genuinely loud thing I ever heard in Davies Symphony Hall.
  8. Every time I say his name in a meeting, there is a short silence while people try to work out if I just said something rude.
  9. He’s now conducting the Philharmonia – an orchestra not known for polite restraint at the best of times. I’m expecting some exciting performances which, thanks to their various live recording arrangements, I might just get to hear.
  10. He described the cult of conductor worship as “empty hype“.


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