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Esa-Pekka Salonen

Conductor / Composer


Esa-Pekka Salonen is known as both a composer and conductor. He is the music director of the San Francisco Symphony, where he works alongside eight collaborative partners from a variety of disciplines, ranging from composers to roboticists. He is the conductor laureate of London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. As a member of the faculty of the Colburn School, he directs the pre-professional Negaunee Conducting Program. Salonen co-founded the annual Baltic Sea Festival, which he served as artistic director until 2018. 

Highlights from Esa-Pekka Salonen’s 2023–24 San Francisco Symphony season include world premieres of works by Jesper Nordin, Anders Hillborg, and Jens Ibsen; projects by collaborative partners Pekka Kuusisto and Carol Reiley; the launch of the inaugural California Festival; a tour of California; and a program of works by Ravel and Schoenberg featuring choreography by Alonzo King and staging by Peter Sellars.

This season Salonen also conducts many of his own compositions around the world. Among them are Tiu, a new work commemorating the 20th anniversary of Walt Disney Concert Hall, premiered by the Los Angeles Philharmonic; Karawane, also with the Los Angeles Philharmonic; Sinfonia Concertante for Organ and Orchestra, with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and The Philadelphia Orchestra; and kínēma, with the San Francisco Symphony and The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Esa-Pekka Salonen has an extensive and varied recording career. His releases with the San Francisco Symphony include recordings of Bartók’s piano concertos as well as spatial audio recordings of several Ligeti compositions. Other recent recordings include Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs, Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin and Dance Suite, and the 2018 box set of his complete Sony recordings. His compositions can be heard on releases on the Sony, Deutsche Grammophon, and Decca labels; he himself conducts the recordings of his Piano Concerto, Violin Concerto, and Cello Concerto.

Upcoming 2023-2024 Performances

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