Leon Botstein,
Music Director

Leon Botstein by Ric Kallaher
Photo by Ric Kallaher

Leon Botstein is now in his 24th year as Music Director and Principal Conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra. This season, he also begins his tenure as the Music Director of The Orchestra Now, an innovative training orchestra composed of top musicians from around the world. Mr. Botstein has been hailed for his visionary zeal, often creating concert programs that give audiences a once-in-a-lifetime chance to hear live performances of works that are ignored in the standard repertory, and inviting music lovers to listen in their own way to create a personal experience. At the same time, he brings his distinctive style to core repertory works. He is also Artistic Director of Bard SummerScape and the Bard Music Festival, which take place at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, where he has been President since 1975. In addition, he is Conductor Laureate of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, where he served as Music Director from 2003–2011.

Mr. Botstein leads an active schedule as a guest conductor all over the world, and can be heard on numerous recordings with the London Symphony (including their Grammy-nominated recording of Popov’s First Symphony), the London Philharmonic, NDR-Hamburg, and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. Many of his live performances with the American Symphony Orchestra are available online, where they have cumulatively sold more than a quarter of a million downloads. Upcoming engagements include the Royal Philharmonic, Wiesbaden, UNAM Mexico, and the Simon Bolivar Orchestra in Caracas. He recently conducted the Russian National Orchestra, the Taipei Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Sinfónica Juvenil de Caracas in Venezuela and Japan, the first non-Venezuelan conductor invited by El Sistema to conduct on a tour.

Highly regarded as a music historian, Mr. Botstein’s most recent book is Von Beethoven zu Berg: Das Gedächtnis der Moderne (2013). He is the editor of The Musical Quarterly and the author of numerous articles and books. He is currently working on a sequel to Jefferson’s Children, about the American education system. Collections of his writings and other resources may be found online at LeonBotsteinMusicRoom.com. For his contributions to music he has received the award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and Harvard University’s prestigious Centennial Award, as well as the Cross of Honor, First Class from the government of Austria. Other recent awards include the Caroline P. and Charles W. Ireland Prize, the highest award given by the University of Alabama; the Bruckner Society’s Julio Kilenyi Medal of Honor for his interpretations of that composer’s music; the Leonard Bernstein Award for the Elevation of Music in Society; and Carnegie Foundation’s Academic Leadership Award. In 2011 he was inducted into the American Philosophical Society.