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Benjamin  Zander

Benjamin Zander

Former Conductor, Boston Philharmonic Orchestra


Music was Benjamin Zander’s life at a very early age. When Zander was nine he was already composing and by twelve he was studying under Benjamin Britten and Imogen Holst. He left home at the age of fifteen to study for five years with the great Spanish cellist Gaspar Cassado in Florence and at the State Academy in Cologne. Read More >

After completing his degree at London University, he came to the United States on a Harkness Fellowship and has made his home in Boston ever since. There, as conductor of the Boston Philharmonic since its formation in 1978, and a guest conductor of numerous orchestras, he has become the center of an intense, at times almost cult-like following. In his case, however, the followers are not starry-eyed acolytes, but rather some of the most well informed musical intellectuals in America. For over forty years, beginning with Michael Steinberg’s passionate advocacy on his behalf in the pages of the Boston Globe, critics and public have been united in their praise of Zander’s interpretations of the central repertory.

For 45 years Mr. Zander was on the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music, where he taught an interpretation class, conducted the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and regularly conducted the conservatory orchestras. He was also the Artistic Director of the joint program between New England Conservatory’s Preparatory School and The Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts in Natick, Massachusetts. During his 38-year tenure as the conductor of the New England Conservatory Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, he led them on fifteen international tours and made several documentaries for Public Broadcasting Service.

Zander travels extensively giving master classes, conducting guest performances and touring with his own recently formed Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. He has established an international reputation as a guest conductor and has conducted the Israel Philharmonic for three consecutive years, and conducted orchestras as diverse as the Bournemouth Symphony, the Scottish and Irish National Orchestras, the St Petersburg Philharmonic, the Malaysian Symphony, the Akron Symphony, the St Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and has appeared with the National Youth Orchestras of New Zealand, Australia, and Venezuela.

Zander has a unique relationship with the Philharmonia Orchestra (London), with which he is currently recording a series of Beethoven and Mahler symphonies. Beethoven’s Fifth and Seventh Symphonies, and Mahler’s First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Ninth Symphonies have been released thus far. Each of these recordings includes a full-length discussion with Zander explaining the music. High Fidelity named the recording of Mahler’s Sixth as ‘the best classical recording of 2002’. The recording of Mahler’s Third was awarded the ‘Critic’s Choice’ by the German Record Critics’ Award Association in 2004, and their recordings of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony and Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony were nominated for Grammy Awards for Best Orchestral Performance. Their recording of Mahler’s Second Symphony was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Surround Sound Album.

Zander has travelled the world lecturing to organizations on leadership. He has appeared several times as a keynote speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he was presented with the Crystal Award for ‘Outstanding Contributions in the Arts and International Relations’. The best-selling book, The Art of Possibility, co-authored with leading psychotherapist Rosamund Zander, has been translated into seventeen languages.

In 2002, Zander was awarded the Caring Citizen of the Humanities Award by the International Council for Caring Communities at the United Nations. In 2007, he was awarded the Golden Door award by the International Institute of Boston for his ‘outstanding contribution to American society’ as a United States citizen of foreign birth. In March of 2009, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from New England Conservatory of Music, and in 2012 he was awarded Faculty Emeritus status at that institution.

Please visit benjaminzander.com for more information, and TED.com to hear his influential presentation on the transformative power of classical music. Read Less ^

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