Recognized as much for his visionary zeal as his performances, championing masterpieces unfairly ignored by history and creating concert programs that engage the head as well as the heart, Leon Botstein recently celebrated his 20th year as Music Director and Principal Conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra. He is also co-Artistic Director of the Summerscape and Bard Music Festivals, which take place at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, designed by Frank Gehry for Bard College, where Mr. Botstein has been President since 1975. He is also 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 (their recording of Popov’s First Symphony was nominated for a Grammy), the London Philharmonic, NDR-Hamburg, and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. Many of his live performances with the American Symphony Orchestra are available for download online. The Los Angeles Times called this summer’s Los Angeles Philharmonic performance under Mr. Botstein “the all-around most compelling performance of anything I’ve heard all summer at the Bowl.” Earlier this season he conducted 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 book based on his talks given at the prestigious Tanner Lectures in Berkeley, CA. 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. In 2009 he received Carnegie Foundation’s Academic Leadership Award, and in 2011 was inducted into the American Philosophical Society. He is also the 2012 recipient of the Leonard Bernstein Award for the Elevation of Music in Society. In 2013, following in the footsteps of Sir John Barbirolli, Otto Klemperer, and others, Mr. Botstein received the Bruckner Society’s Julio Kilenyi Medal of Honor for his interpretations of that composer’s music.