‘Music is a better world…’
David Zinman ranks as one of the world’s finest conductors
Born in 1936 in New York, David Zinman first studied the violin at the age of 6. Later, he graduated from Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, Ohio and pursued advanced work in composition at the University of Minnesota. He was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters David Zinman then studied conducting at the Boston Symphony’s Tanglewood Music Center. There, he came to the attention of Pierre Monteux, who, in 1961, invited him to be his assistant with the London Symphony Orchestra. He was given his first important conducting opportunities and at the 1963 Holland Festival, David Zinman was hailed by critics as a major conducting discovery.In 1964 David Zinman became one of the youngest conductors of the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra in Amsterdam where he stayed until 1977. His success in Holland soon led to his appointment as conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic from 1979 -1982. David Zinman was then made Music Director of the Rochester Philharmonic 1974-1985, where he made numerous recordings and tours, and his reputation in the States was established. From 1985 to 1998, David Zinman was Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, which was to become one of America’s major orchestras under his aegis. His programming of an extraordinarily broad repertoire, his strong commitment to the performance of contemporary music, and his introduction of historically informed performance practice distinguished David Zinman’s tenure with Baltimore Symphony. As Music Director he introduced new programming ideas to the Baltimore Symphony schedule: a Summer Music festival, a Discovery series devoted to contemporary music, and Saturday morning Casual Concerts featuring informal commentary by the conductor. Since his American conducting debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1967, he has conducted many of the world’s leading orchestras. He has guest-conducted all the leading North American orchestras including Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Minnesota and San Francisco Symphony. David Zinman has also made regular guest appearances at the Blossom, Hollywood Bowl, Mostly Mozart, Ravinia, Saratoga and Tanglewood Festivals. He was artistic director of Minnesota’s Orchestra’s Viennese Sommerfest from 1994-96. In Europe, he regularly conducts major orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Royal Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest, London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia, Israel Philharmonic and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. David Zinman was Music Director of the Aspen Music Festival from 1985-2009. The American Academy of Conducting at Aspen, where talented would-be maestros are invited to study over a 9-week period during the summer in idyllic surroundings, has long been a dream of David Zinman. It is here he has created a unique programme, which allows 20 students of conducting to work with an orchestra of experienced musicians, under the guidance of master conductors. At the Aspen Music Festival there are 5 orchestras, an opera studio, master classes, many chamber ensembles, at least 3 concerts per day and around 750 music students who stay for the duration. David Zinman’s commitment to teaching is very profound. He teaches at the Curtis Institute of Music and is involved with the Orpheum Stiftung in Zurich. His determination to inspire young people to listen to the orchestra in Zurich was realised when he decided together with the Tonhalle Management combine a classical concert with a dance party afterwards. These concerts known as Tonhalle Late, take place twice a season, and have been an inspiration in the musical life of Zurich. In June 2010 the first David Zinman Conducting class was held in Zurich. Eight young conductors were chosen out of 179 applicants. David Zinman took up his post as Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Tonhalle Orchestra, Zurich at the start of the 1995/6 seasons, having conducted the Orchestra regularly as a guest since 1983. He has toured extremely successfully with the orchestra in Europe, the United States and Japan, accompanied by renowned soloists such as Alfred Brendel, Radu Lupu, Yefim Bronfman, Joshua Bell, Helene Grimaud, Viktoria Mullova, Julia Fischer, Thomas Zehetmair and Yo-Yo Ma. In 2003 the Tonhalle Orchestra made its debut at the Proms in London. The orchestra and David Zinman received rapturous reviews. They returned in 2008 and also performed at the Edinburgh Festival and will return to both the Proms and Edinburgh in 2011. The Tonhalle Orchestra has been invited to perform at the Mahler celebrations in Leipzig in May 2011 and will tour to Japan and China later in October 2011. David Zinman has made numerous recordings with the Tonhalle Orchestra, including orchestral works by Arthur Honegger, Mozart violin concertos with Pamela Frank, works for flute by Katchaturian and Ibert for EMI with Emmanuel Pahud. The complete Beethoven Symphonies on the Arte Nova label have sold almost 1,000,000 copies and gained him the German Record Critics’ Prize in 1999. A box of seven CDs featuring the symphonic works of Richard Strauss were released on Arte Nova. In the 2003/04 season David Zinman recorded all the Schumann symphonies and Beethoven overtures. Following this came the complete Beethoven piano concertos, the violin concerto, and the triple concerto. In November 2010 the 10th and final symphony of Mahler will be released to complete the Mahler cycle recorded with David Zinman and the Tonhalle Orchestra over a period of six years. A box set of the symphonies will be available from November 2010. David Zinman’s extensive discography of over 100 recordings have won him five Grammy Awards, two Grands Prix du Disque, two Edison Prizes, the German Record Critics’ Prize and one Gramophone Award, and have hugely enhanced David Zinman’s reputation. His 1990 recording of the Gorecki 3rd symphony on the Warner Classics Label with the London Sinfonietta became a musical phenomenon, which has not been repeated since in the commercial world of classical music.
Columbia University honoured him for his extraordinary commitment to the works of American composers by presenting him with the Ditson Award in 1997. In May 2000, the French Ministry of Culture awarded David Zinman the title of “Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres”. He was awarded the Art Prize of the City of Zurich in 2002. In January 2006, David Zinman, received the prestigious Theodore Thomas Award, presented by the Conductors Guild in New York’s Roosevelt Hotel. The award is presented biannually to a conductor, in recognition of outstanding achievement and extraordinary service to one’s colleagues in advancing the art and science of conducting, reflecting honour on the profession. The Conductors Guild is the only music service organization devoted exclusively to the advancement of the art of conductors and to serving the artistic and professional needs of conductors.