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Biographies and tenures of Music Directors, Music Advisers, and Principal Conductors of the New York Philharmonic, 1842 to present.

Jaap van Zweden | 2018–

Jaap van Zweden began his tenure as the 26th Music Director in September 2018. In the 2019–20 season, he and the Philharmonic reaffirm their vital commitments to serving as New York’s orchestra and to championing new music. He conducts the Philharmonic in World Premieres, symphonic cornerstones, his first Young People’s Concert, and the return of Phil the Hall, and presides over Project 19, the hotspots festival, and Mahler’s New York.

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Alan Gilbert | 2009–2017

During his tenure Alan Gilbert forged season-spanning and multiyear artistic partnerships and introduced new-music initiatives that build on citywide collaborations. He was acclaimed for reimagining the concert experience, including through creatively staged performances, and for acting on his conviction that music can effect positive change in the world.

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Lorin Maazel | 2002–2009

In his seven seasons as Music Director, Lorin Maazel conducted more than 350 subscription season concerts, which included performances of nine World Premiere–New York Philharmonic Commissions such as John Adams’s Pulitzer Prize– and Grammy Award–winning On the Transmigration of Souls and Rodion Shchedrin’s The Enchanted Wanderer.

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Kurt Masur | 1991–2002

Music Director Emeritus
Kurt Masur's close and intense collaboration with the New York Philharmonic has been marked by a consistently high quality of playing and artistic spirit

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Zubin Mehta | 1978–1991

Zubin Mehta’s 13-year tenure as the New York Philharmonic’s Music Director — during which he conducted more than 1,000 concerts — was the longest in the Orchestra’s history.

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Pierre Boulez | 1971–1977

Under Pierre Boulez, the Philharmonic introduced such innovative series as the Rug Concerts and Prospective Encounters, which were built around programs of contemporary music and provided opportunities for the audience to interact with artists involved in the production.

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George Szell | 1969–1970

A close friend and frequent guest conductor of the Orchestra for 26 years after his 1943 debut, Szell stepped in as Music Advisor and Senior Guest Conductor for the 1969-70 season, helping to fill the void left by Leonard Bernstein’s absence.

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Leonard Bernstein | 1958–1969*

1969-1990, Laureate Conductor
Bernstein was part performer, part composer, part conductor, part lecturer and author, and part teacher. His debut on November 14, 1943 is the stuff of legend.

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Dimitri Mitropoulos | 1949–1958

Over 23 years, Mitropoulos led the Philharmonic in nearly 650 performances around the world, raising the post-war Orchestra to a new level of touring activity.

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Leopold Stokowski | 1949–1950

Stokowski was a frequent visitor to the Philharmonic over the years, appearing with the Orchestra on nearly 200 occasions, taking part in Young People's Concerts, and, in the 1940s, leading the Orchestra on tour. During the 1949-50 season he shared the position of Principal Conductor with Dimitri Mitropoulos.

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Bruno Walter | 1947–1949

Walter, once Assistant to Gustav Mahler, was a proponent of the composer’s works in America, recording his Fifth Symphony with the New York Philharmonic just before taking on the role of Music Advisor to the Orchestra

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Artur Rodzinski | 1943–1947

When Rodzinski assumed the leadership of the New York Philharmonic in 1943, he was given the newly created title of Musical Director, which underscored his responsibility for season programming and for the overall structure of the Orchestra. He promptly dismissed 14 players, including the concertmaster.

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Sir John Barbirolli | 1936–1941

Barbirolli's colorful and poetic interpretations earned the respect of musicians and connoisseurs, but his reserved English demeanor contrasted with Toscanini's flamboyant virtuosity, and the wider New York public was slow to embrace it.

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Arturo Toscanini | 1928–1936

Toscanini, universally admired in later years as "The Maestro," made his Philharmonic debut in January 1926. He guest-conducted and shared the Music Director post with Willem Mengelberg before taking the helm single-handedly.

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Willem Mengelberg | 1922–1930

Mengelberg was a perfectionist who meticulously rehearsed his orchestras. The Dutch conductor first led the Philharmonic during the 1905-06 season; from 1921 to 1930 he arranged his Amsterdam schedule to allow for annual trips to New York in order to conduct the Philharmonic.

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Josef Stransky | 1911–1923

Stransky had the widest repertoire of any of the Philharmonic's previous conductors. Under his baton, audiences experienced more types of concerts than ever before, including the Orchestra's first Young People's Concert in January 1914.

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Gustav Mahler | 1909–1911

Mahler's tenure with the Philharmonic coincided with a major reorganization of the Orchestra's corporate structure. He brought in a new concertmaster, changed some of the wind and brass players, and adjusted the balance between instrumental families.

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Wassily Safonoff | 1906–1909

Safonoff's fiery style — he often conducted without a baton — made him a favorite with ensemble and audience alike. He brought a foreign cachet and renewed energy to the Philharmonic's enterprises.

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Walter Damrosch** | 1902–1903

Walter Damrosch was part of a New York musical dynasty. He was elected to conduct the New York Philharmonic Society's 1902-03 season in part because the board knew of his good relationship with Andrew Carnegie, their new president.

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Emil Paur | 1898–1902

Paur's four-year tenure with the Philharmonic coincided with a temporary slump in its fortunes. The conservative Paur didn't command the fiery persona of Seidl before him, and although single ticket sales did well, subscriptions were down..

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Anton Seidl | 1891–1898

After conducting at opera houses in Leipzig and Bremen, Seidl came to The Metropolitan Opera in New York to replace Leopold Damrosch. By the time Seidl took the reins of the New York Philharmonic Society from Theodore Thomas in 1891, he had won an enthusiastic following in the concert hall as well as the opera house.

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Theodore Thomas | 1877–1891

Thomas made his New York solo debut on the violin at age 15, and in 1854 he joined the first-violin section of the New York Philharmonic Society. By the time Thomas assumed leadership of the Philharmonic in 1877, he had nearly two decades of conducting experience.

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Leopold Damrosch** | 1876–1877

Leopold Damrosch was already an active figure on the New York musical scene when he made the pilgrimage to Bayreuth to hear Wagner's Ring Cycle in 1876. That same year, he succeeded Carl Bergmann at the helm of the New York Philharmonic.

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Carl Bergmann | 1855–1876

Bergmann began his two-decade association with the Philharmonic as a replacement for the ailing Theodore Eisfeld on April 21, 1855. That one ovation by musicians, the public, and critics essentially made Bergmann's career, and the Orchestra's directors invited him to conduct all of the next season's concerts.

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Theodore Eisfeld | 1848–1865

Eisfeld's first concert with the New York Philharmonic Society was March 17, 1848. In 1852, for its 11th season, he became the first conductor to lead an entire season single-handedly.

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Ureli Corelli Hill | 1842–1847

Corelli Hill alternately served as conductor and violinist with the New York Sacred Music Society between 1828 and 1835. He then spent two years in Germany studying with the composer, conductor, and violinist Louis Spohr. When he returned to New York, Hill became president of the newly founded Philharmonic Society.

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* In some years there was no designee for these positions
** Conducted the New York Symphony Society, founded by Leopold Damrosch in 1877, which merged with the New York Philharmonic in 1928