Posted by: emanuelax1 | April 8, 2009

Esa Pekka Salonen

Esa Pekka Salonen is leaving the Los Angeles Philharmonic after one of the longest and most successful tenures of any music director in American orchestral history. I think I am one of the original American fans of EP – I had the opportunity to work with him more than 25 years ago, when he conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra for the very first time. His incredible impact on the music profession and on the musical life of Los Angeles can not be overstated, and I think what makes him such a compelling artistic personality is the virtually unique combination of being a musician always looking toward the new, but also the inheritor of a truly great tradition – that of a master composer who is the musical leader of a community. His music has already reached and moved so many people – the Piano Concerto, the LA Variations, and many other works are wonderful creations – and his interpretation of great works by other composers of the past and the present reflect his compositional mastery. Of course he is a truly great conductor and leader of orchestras, but it is his devotion to, and his understanding, sympathy and deep admiration of the composer that makes him such an inspired interpreter. I feel truly privileged to have worked with him on many occasions, and very fortunate to have his music to listen to. Long live Salonen!



  1. Agreed. Had a chance to meet him once at a reception and he is very approachable, sensible sort of fellow. I am sure we will hear more good things from him and he will be missed here in Los Angeles.

  2. A warm and dear tribute from one friend to another. One hopes that EP will take his heart to the pen and compose more. I would personally like to see him write a work for piano and orchestra which brings in folk material from his native homeland.

  3. Salonen is a prime example of the self-serving cronyism that is the cause of so many of our musical problems. He feeds off the public purse and schedules his own dreadful compositions, a clear conflict of interest, and a nice line of funds to his own pocket. Add onto that his limited circle of buddies, yourself included, that get shoved off on us every year, it is the rest of the Phil musicians and Disney Hall that keeps many of us coming back.

    • I’ve thought about this comment a bit and I think it’s probably true of leaders of most organizations — to varying degrees. I’ve listened to pieces of Esa’s compositions and what I heard I enjoyed — maybe due to Bronfman’s playing — I don’t know. I plan on listening to more. What I do know, however, is that I’ve just spent the past week listening — probably 50 times — to Esa and Bronfman’s Shostekovich Concerto No. 2’s Andante movement. It is the most beautiful performance of this movement that I have ever heard. In fact, I can’t think of another performance of any other piece of music that has had such an impact on me. If it takes Esa’s self-serving behaviour to produce such a work, then so be it (in my opinion). And (in my opinion), Esa’s friend Yefim is nothing short of a genius — definitely one of the greatest pianists EVER (and my favourite!).

  4. Sad ! A truly great musician

  5. Dear Emmanuel Ax, I totally agree with you. one of my very good and young friends, Lionel Bringuier, was so lucky to learn so much close to him lastly in LA Philharmonic. I admire very much myself this amazing great conductor Esa Pekka-Salonen. and I admire you too very much! I’ve been stolen a notebook, where you had written me your mail to talk to you of a very special project in Paris, where can I write to you now? warmest greedings from Barcelona, Aurélie Moron ( )

  6. Great post on the subject. Rock music punk music – all the great stuff comes from bands who kick against the status quo.

    Andras session guitarist and rock guitarist

  7. Very nice article!!! As you, I admire EP very much. With the Simon Bolívar´s Orchestra, we had the chance to work with him in Helsinki, in 2008, his LA Variationen, wonderfull piece. He is very charmed, was an special oportunity to make a good music with a great musician.

  8. Such beautiful music on LPB. Thank you for playing with YoYo Ma and Iszek Pearlman

  9. I’ve followed EP’s career closely over the years and admire him greatly as a musician and interpreter of music. LA will miss him.

    What next for the great man, I wonder?

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