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Esa-Pekka Salonen

Esa-Pekka Salonen emerged as one of the most exciting and fast-rising major conductors of the last two decades of the 20th century. He entered the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki 1973, studying horn with Holgar Fransman. Having graduated in 1977, Salonen remained to take composition with Einojuhani Rautavaara and conducting with Jorma Panula.

Although he is primarily known as a conductor, Salonen views composition as his main career. His first large-scale orchestral work was the Concerto for saxophone & orchestra, "...Auf den esten Blick und ohne zu wissen" (1980-1981), based on Kafka's novel The Trial. His second orchestral work, Giro, dates from 1981. The following year, he composed Floof (revised in 1990), a bright work for soprano and ensemble based on texts by the Polish science-fiction writer Stanislaw Lem. This work won the UNESCO Rostrum Prize in 1992. During the 1980s, Salonen composed tape music and music with electronics and instruments combined. Works composed during this period include Baalal, a radiophonic piece, and Yta (Surface), a series of experimental compositions. His 1996 orchestral piece, LA Variations, received its triumphant premiere at the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1997. The following year, he wrote Gambit, an orchestral work dedicated to Magnus Lindberg. In 1999, he completed Five Images after Sappho, a song cycle for soprano and small ensemble. Salonen's music employs up-to-date compositional techniques within a central tonality. Other significant works include Wing on Wing for orchestra and two sopranos (2004) and a Piano Concerto (2007) written for Yefim Bronfman.

His conducting career took off in 1983, following his sensational London debut with the Philharmonia. Salonen made his American debut conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in 1984. He received a record contract with CBS Masterworks (now Sony Classical), as well as the position of principal guest conductor of the Philharmonia (1985-1994).

One of his early projects with Sony was a recording of Messiaen's Turangalîla and Lutoslawski's Symphony No. 3, the latter a world-premiere recording that won a Gramophone Award for Best Contemporary Record in 1985.

As a result of his highly successful performances with the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl in 1989, Salonen was invited to become the orchestra's music director. He assumed that post in 1992, becoming the orchestra's youngest music director, and a successor to such luminaries as Zubin Mehta and Carlo Maria Giulini. Salonen has led the LA Philharmonic on major tours, also making a series of highly acclaimed recordings.

Salonen is known especially for his 20th century music performances, though he is also praised for his interpretations of Haydn, Mahler, and Beethoven. In addition to established modern composers such as Bartók, Messiaen, Stravinsky, and Hindemith, he also frequently performs more recent masters such as Lutoslawski, Ligeti, Lindberg, Saariaho, and Corigliano, whose concerto from the film The Red Violin he recorded with violinist Joshua Bell.
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Bach: Transcriptions

Composer: Leopold Stokowski
Title: Toccata And Fugue In D Minor, Transcription For Orchestra (after Bach, BWV 565)
Composer: Sir Edward Elgar
Title: Arrangement: J.S. Bach's Fantasia & Fugue In C Minor (BWV 537), For Orchestra, Op. 86
Composer: Anton Webern
Title: Fuga (Ricercata) A 6 Voci For Orchestra (Arr. From Bach's Musical Offering)
Composer: Arnold Schoenberg
Title: Transcription for orchestra of Bach's Prelude & Fugue in E flat major
Composer: Leopold Stokowski
Title: Little Fugue In G Minor, Transcription For Orchestra (after Bach, BWV 578)
Composer: Gustav Mahler
Title: Suite Aus Den Orchestrawerken, For Orchestra, Harpsichord & Organ (after J.S. Bach)
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Track List: Ligeti: Vocal Works

Title: Nonsense Madrigals, For 6 Men's Voices
Title: Mysteries Of The Macabre, For Soprano & Ensemble, Or Trumpet & Piano/ensemble (arr. From "Le Grand Macabre" By E.Howarth)
Title: Aventures, For 3 Voices & 7 Instruments
Title: Aventures & Nouvelles Aventures, Stage Version Of Vocal Works
Title: Der Sommer (The Summer), Song For Soprano & Piano
Title: Három Weöres-dal, Songs (3) For Soprano & Piano
Title: Öt Arany-dal, For Voice & Piano
Title: Lakodalmi Tánc (4) (Wedding Dances), For Female Voices & Piano
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Track List: Stravinsky: Le Sacre Du Printemps

Composer: Modest Mussorgsky
Title: St. John's Night On The Bare Mountain (Ivanova Noch' Na Lisoy Gore), Symphonic Poem For Orchestra
Composer: Béla Bartók
Title: The Miraculous Mandarin, Suite For Orchestra, Sz. 73a, Bb 82 (Op. 19)
Composer: Igor Stravinsky
Title: Le Sacre Du Printemps (The Rite Of Spring), Ballet In 2 Parts For Orchestra

Comments

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It's good to see contemporary classical composers still making a statement in today's world of pop music and one hit wonders. Esa-Pekka fulfills the job amazingly.

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