Conductor Yuri Temirkanov died on November 2 at the age of 84. One of Russia’s leading conductors, he served as music director and chief conductor of the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra, the Kirov Theater, and the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra in the former Soviet Union. In the West, he also served as principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in England and music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in the United States.
Temirkanov was born in 1938 in Nalichik, Kabarda Balkar Republic, former Soviet Union. He studied violin and viola at the Leningrad Conservatory, and studied conducting in the class of the famous conductor Ilya Musin. 1965 marked the beginning of his conducting career, conducting Verdi’s “La Traviata” at the Mikhailovsky Theater.
In 1966, he won the first prize at the 2nd “All-Union Conducting Competition of the USSR. He then became Chief Conductor of the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra (1968-1976), Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Kirov Theater (1977-1988), and in 1988 succeeded Evgeny Mravinsky as Music Director and Chief Conductor of the prestigious Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. He remained in this position until his retirement in 2022.
Meanwhile, he began a regular guest tenure with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1978, becoming its principal conductor in 1992 and its laureate conductor in 1998. He then served as Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra from 1999 to 2006, and was Music Director Emeritus after retiring from this position as well.
His gentle conducting style has allowed him to show his true range in the repertoire of traditional Russian music such as Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich, and he has also served as principal guest conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra.
He was also enthusiastic about teaching younger students, giving regular master classes at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, USA, the Manhattan School of Music in New York City, and the Chigiana Conservatory of Music in Italy. He received many awards, including the People’s Artist of the Soviet Union (1976) and the Order of Lenin (1983). He has also made numerous recordings.
Photo：MITO SettembreMusica / Stas Levshin