Vladimir Jurowski has been chief conductor and artistic director of the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin since autumn 2017.
In the past, after hearing the following words from an unnamed orchestra director, “we should not forget that what we do is mainly entertainment,” he was forced to deliberate carefully, and ultimately decide against accepting a position with that orchestra.
“Social interaction is currently redefining itself, and music must find its place in this society anew.” (Vladimir Jurowski)
It should come as no surprise then, that this conductor prioritises a programming policy that relates deeply to the social relevance of public concerts as a whole. He does not turn his back on his audience on an emotional level, but rather devotes himself to breaking down barriers and dissolving fears – of contemporary music, as an example. “It’s up to us music creators to keep the audience engaged, build trust and take them by the hand.” For him, one means to an end is to “disregard the mythology and go straight to the score.”
The conductor, pianist and musicologist Vladimir Jurowski takes on all challenges whether they be stylistic, technical or music-historical – but this should not be taken to mean that he conducts everything. “I take a strictly chronological approach to certain composers. With Mahler, for example, I started with his opus one, Das klagende Lied, and now I also have Das Lied von der Erde behind me,” he explained to the Munich-based Merkur in an interview on 12th November 2019. He continues: “It’s the same with Bruckner. So I not only go by the numbers of the symphonies, but also by their different versions. I want to see the pieces through the eyes of the composers – at least as well as we possibly are able to.” However, he also shares candidly that “there are some very famous pieces that I will never conduct, like Carmen. I guess Bizet’s opera doesn’t suit me and I don’t suit her. But the work can continue to exist wonderfully without me. In some works you should listen to your inner voice – especially when it says: leave it alone!” Vladimir Jurowski is an accomplished advocate of both the youngest contemporary music and the historically informed performance practice of the Baroque and Classical eras. And, of course, he feels at home conducting the core symphonic repertoire of the 19th and 20th centuries of Beethoven and Brahms, of Tchaikovsky and Dvořák, of Berg and Shostakovich.
After receiving training at the Moscow Conservatory, in the city where he was born in 1972, Vladimir Jurowski emigrated to Germany with his family in 1990. Here he continued his studies at the music conservatories in Dresden and Berlin – conducting with Rolf Reuter; correpetition and song accompaniment with Semion Skigin. In 1995 he made his international debut at the British Wexford Festival with Rimski-Korsakov’s Mainacht and in the same year at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden with Nabucco. Subsequently he was, among other things, First Kapellmeister of the Komische Oper Berlin (1997- 2001) and Music Director of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera (2001-2013). In 2003 Vladimir Jurowski was appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and has been its Principal Conductor since 2007 and will stay on until summer 2021. He is also Artistic Director of the State Academic Symphony Orchestra Yevgeny Svetlanov of the Russian Federation until summer 2021, Artistic Director of the International George Enescu Festival in Bucharest and Principal Artist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in Great Britain. He works regularly with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the ensemble unitedberlin. With the start of the 2021/2022 season, Vladimir Jurowski will take on one of the most prestigious roles in German musical life in addition to his engagement with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, by becoming General Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, a position for which he signed a contract in 2018. What attracts him to Berlin is that he can work staying in the same city as his family. He chose the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin because he has known and appreciated it since his student days.
“I’ve always felt that this is an orchestra I could get on well with.”
On the concert stages
Vladimir Jurowski is in high demand around the world as a guest conductor. He has conducted the major orchestras of Europe and North America, including the Berlin, Vienna and New York Philharmonic Orchestras, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, the Boston and Chicago Symphony Orchestras, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, the Staatskapelle Dresden and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. As a guest conductor, Vladimir Jurowski conducted Prokofiev’s “Semyon Kotko” with the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest of the Netherlands in the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, made his debut at the Salzburg Easter Festival with the Staatskapelle Dresden, debuted with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, performed with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra at the Lucerne Festival and conducted a unique project with the London Sinfonietta in Moscow to mark the UK-Russia Year of Culture.
In opera houses
Vladimir Jurowski has been an established presence on the international opera stage since 1996. He made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York with Rigoletto and has since returned with Jenůfa, Pique Dame, Hänsel und Gretel and Die Frau ohne Schatten, among others. He conducted Parsifal and Wozzeck at the Welsh National Opera, War and Peace and the 1869 original version of Boris Godunov at the Opera National de Paris, Eugene Onegin at La Scala in Milan, Ruslan and Ludmila at the Bolshoi Theatre as well as Jolanthe and The Devils of Loudon at the Dresden Semperoper, and Die Gezeichneten at the Zurich Opera House. At the Glyndebourne Opera Festival he conducted numerous works by Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, Strauss and Janáček as well as Peter Eötvös’ Love and Other Demons. In 2017 he returned to Glyndebourne Opera for the world premiere of Brett Dean’s Hamlet. In 2015 he conducted Schönberg’s Moses und Aron at the Komische Oper Berlin and made his debut at the Bavarian State Opera with Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel. He gave his debut at the Salzburg Festival in 2017 with Alban Berg’s Wozzeck. In 2019 he conducted the world premiere of Alexander Wustin’s Jacques Cazotte opera The Devil in Love at Moscow’s Stanislavski Theatre. At the Komische Oper Berlin The Bassarids by Hans Werner Henze followed in 2019, a celebrated new opera production in collaboration with Barrie Kosky.
CDs and DVDs
The first joint CD by Vladimir Jurowski and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin from 2015 immediately marked a milestone. Alfred Schnittke’s monumental Symphony No. 3 was followed in 2017 by a Strauss/Mahler recording and a CD of violin concertos by Britten and Hindemith with soloist Arabella Steinbacher. In 2020, a critically acclaimed recording of Gustav Mahler’s “Das Lied von der Erde” was released. In August 2021, Richard Strauss’ “Eine Alpensinfonie” will be released. Under the PENTATONE label, Vladimir Jurowski also conducted a series of Russian works with the Russian National Orchestra. The spectrum of discs with the London Philharmonic Orchestra includes all symphonies by Brahms, Mahler Symphonies Nos. 1, 2 and 4, Tchaikovsky’s Symphonies Nos. 1 to 6 and “Manfred”, works by Beethoven, Turnage, Holst, Britten, Vaughan Williams, Shostakovich, Zemlinsky, Honegger, Haydn, and Rachmaninov. Jurowski’s time as music director of Glyndebourne Opera has been documented with numerous CD and DVD releases. Other DVDs include “Hansel and Gretel” from the Metropolitan Opera New York, Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos. 4 and 7 with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and works by Strauss and Ravel with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, all published by Medici Arts.
Prizes and Awards
Vladimir Jurowski is the recipient of numerous awards for his achievements, including various international record prizes. In 2018, the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards named him Conductor of the Year. In 2016, he received an honorary doctorate from Prince Charles at the Royal College of Music in London. In summer 2020, Jurowski was awarded the Order of Cultural Merit by the Romanian President in recognition of his work as Artistic Director of the George Enescu Festival.
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