Michael Tilson Thomas

Michael Tilson Thomas first conducted the San Francisco Symphony in 1974 and has been Music Director since 1995. A Los Angeles native, he studied with John Crown and Ingolf Dahl at the University of Southern California, becoming Music Director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra at nineteen. He worked with Stravinsky, Boulez, Stockhausen, and Copland at the famed Monday Evening Concerts and was pianist and conductor for Piatigorsky and Heifetz master classes. In 1969, Mr. Tilson Thomas won the Koussevitzky Prize and was appointed Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony. Ten days later he came to international recognition, replacing Music Director William Steinberg in mid-concert at Lincoln Center. He went on to become the BSO’s Principal Guest Conductor, and he has also served as Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, and as a Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. With the London Symphony Orchestra he has served as Principal Conductor and Principal Guest Conductor; he is currently Conductor Laureate. He is Artistic Director of the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy, which he co-founded in 1987. Michael Tilson Thomas’s recordings have won numerous international awards, including twelve Grammys for SFS recordings. In 2014, he inaugurated SoundBox, the San Francisco Symphony’s new alternative performance space and live music series. His television credits include the New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concerts and in 2004 he and the SFS launched Keeping Score on PBS-TV. His compositions include From the Diary of Anne Frank; Shówa/Shoáh; settings of Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Rainer Maria Rilke; Island Music; Notturno; and, most recently, Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind. Michael Tilson Thomas is a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres of France, was Musical America’s Musician and Conductor of the Year, and was inducted into the Gramophone Hall of Fame in 2015. He has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2010 was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama. Most recently, he joined the California Hall of Fame and was elected to the Academy of Arts and Letters as an American Honorary Member.

 

 

Please note: Biographies on the CSO website are based on the information that was most recently provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on the artists' own websites or those of their representatives.