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Botstein, Leon


BOTSTEIN, LEON (1946– ), U.S. conductor and music historian. Botstein was born in Zurich, Switzerland, and moved to New York with his family in 1949. He studied violin with Roman Totenberg and conducting with Richard Wernick and Harold Farberman. Afterwards, he dedicated himself to history (Ph.D. Harvard University, 1985). In 1975 Botstein was appointed president of Bard College (New York) and Leon Levy Professor in the Arts and Humanities. In 1992 he became music director of the American Symphony Orchestra and in 1995 artistic director of the American Russian Young Artists Orchestra. He appeared as a guest conductor in Europe, Asia, and South America. In 2003 Botstein was appointed music director of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra.

As a conductor, he was widely known for his ambition to broaden the horizons of his audience while performing less-known and rarely played music, especially of late 19th century and 20th century composers; his recordings also served the same purpose. In 1990 Botstein founded the Bard Music Festival, whose concerts are accompanied by essays devoted to the composers performed each time. His aim was to involve listeners in a deeper absorption of music.

As a prominent music historian, Botstein was appointed editor of the professional journal The Musical Quarterly in 1992. His numerous publications investigate mainly the problems of performance and reception of music, the Austrian and German music tradition of the 19th and 20th centuries, and the role of Jews in the spiritual life of the German-speaking world. His books and articles have been published in German, English, and Russian. For his contributions to music he has received several awards, including the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award and Harvard University's prestigious Centennial Award as well as the Cross of Honor, First Class, from the government of Austria.



[Yulia Kreinin (2nd ed.)]

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