A visionary conductor, who has dedicated his career to discovery of rare repertoire, Leon Botstein is Music Director and Principal Conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra, founder and Music Director of The Orchestra Now, Artistic Director of Bard SummerScape and the Bard Music Festival, and Conductor Laureate of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, where he served as music director from 2003–2011. He combines his conducting career with his work as the President Bard College, which he has held since 1975. Leon Botstein has initiated the creation of the first liberal education department in Russia – the Smolny College of Liberal Arts and Sciences of the St Petersburg State University.
Maestro Botstein’s unique approach to programming gives audiences all over the world opportunities to encounter neglected works, which he performs alongside standard repertoire masterpieces, creating rich musical context and often enhancing the experience with preconcert talks. Like-minded, dynamic ensembles, seeking to broaden the musical horizons of their players and listeners, frequently invite Leon Botstein as a guest conductor. These include Los Angeles Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Aspen Music Festival, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Mariinsky Theatre, Russian National Orchestra in Moscow, the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden, Taipei Symphony, Simón Bolivar Symphony Orchestra and Sinfónica Juvenil de Caracas in Venezuela. In 2018, Maestro begins his highly-anticipated tenure as Artistic Director of the Grafenegg Festival and Academy in Austria, where his maverick narrative-driven programming has attracted star collaborators, including Thomas Hampson.
Leon Bostein’s vision is also reflected in his media activities, which include a Grammy nominated recording of Popov’s First Symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra. He has also recorded with the London Philharmonic, NDR Orchestra Hamburg, and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. Many of Maestro’s live performances with the American Symphony Orchestra are available online, where they have sold more than a quarter of a million downloads in total.
He is the editor of The Musical Quarterly and the author of numerous articles and books, including the most recent volume Von Beethoven zu Berg: Das Gedächtnis der Moderne (2013). Highly regarded as a music historian, Leon Bostein has received Harvard University’s prestigious Centennial Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters award, as well as the Cross of Honor, First Class, from the government of Austria, for his contributions to music. Other recent distinctions include 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.