Another historic concert this week – the legendary Klaus Tennstedt leads the New York Philharmonic in this 1985 broadcast that also features pianist Alexander Toradze in a performance of the 3rd Piano Concert of Serge Prokofiev. Also on the bill is Boris Blacher’s Paganini Variations and ending the concert is Schumann’s Symphony Number 3 (Rhenish). Recorded for broadcast on October 23, 1985.
Klaus Tennstedt (June 6, 1926 – January 11, 1998) was a German conductor from Merseburg; he conducted the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Kiel Opera in northern Germany, the North German Radio Orchestra in Hamburg, the Minnesota Orchestra in Minneapolis and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
n 1974, Tennstedt made his North American debut with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. His first U.S. appearance was shortly after that, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, on December 13, 1974, conducting an all-Brahms program. The following week, his BSO Bruckner Symphony No. 8 earned laudatory reviews. In Norman Lebrecht’s The Maestro Myth, the story was told that when the Boston management asked Tennstedt what he wanted to conduct, he replied: “You mean I get to choose?” His appearances were so highly acclaimed that as a result, Tennstedt was invited to guest-conduct at the Tanglewood Music Festival and Blossom Music Festival in 1975.
His only American opera engagement was a series of seven performances of Beethoven’s Fidelio at the Metropolitan Opera, the last of which, on Jan. 7, 1984, was broadcast.
Tennstedt then guest-conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic. In Europe, he guest- conducted the Bavarian Radio Symphony of Munich, the Berlin Philharmonic and the SDR Symphony (now the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra).
His London debut was with the London Symphony (LSO) in 1976. In 1977 came his first engagement with the London Philharmonic (LPO), which led to his appointment as its principal guest conductor in 1980, and eventually as principal conductor in 1983. Due to ill-health he resigned in 1987, but was later named the its conductor laureate, returning to the LPO in 1986 to record Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 (“Symphony of a Thousand”, EMI DSB-47625) and for Mahler concerts in November 1991 (Symphony No. 6) and May 1993 (Symphony No. 7). His last guest appearance in the U.S. was with the New York Philharmonic in 1992, but on the advice of his physicians he retired from conducting altogether in October 1994. The last time he conducted was in June 1994, at a rehearsal of a student orchestra at Oxford University where he received an honorary doctorate a few days later.
In 1978 Tennstedt became the first German conductor of his generation to conduct the Israel Philharmonic, which until then had boycotted German conductors because of their connections with the Nazi regime.
His recordings include a complete cycle of the symphonies of Gustav Mahler, and several of Tennstedt’s concert performances have been reissued on CD.
Alexander Toradze is best known for his Russian repertoire, with a career spanning over three decades. He is a professor of piano at Indiana University South Bend.
Born in Tbilisi, Georgian SSR, to parents David, a famous Georgian composer, and Liana, a movie actress and ophthalmologist, Alexander Toradze entered Tbilisi’s central music school at six and first played with orchestra at nine.He continued his studies at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow at nineteen under Yakov Zak, Boris Zemliansky, and Lev Naumov. In 1977, he finished second in the Fifth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas. Toradze graduated from the Moscow conservatory in 1978. In 1983, while on tour with the Bolshoi Symphony Orchestra of Moscow, he requested asylum at the American Embassy in Madrid and has since made his home in the United States.
So there you have it – a mid-week extravaganza of music making of the tried-and-true variety. Maybe not earth-shattering, but will certainly round off a few jagged edges and put you in a better mood than when you got started today.