Previous Music Directors
Maestro Gary Bertini was the musical director of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, IBA, between 1977-1987. Born in 1927 in Brichevo, Bessarabia, then part of Romania, his mother, Bertha, was a biologist and doctor and his father, K.A. Bertini, was a renowned poet, translator and an active Zionist.
After surviving deportation during the Second World War, the family immigrated to Palestine, where, at the age of 16, Gary took up the violin. In 1948 he attended the Milan Conservatoire, and then the Tel Aviv College of Music. After his graduation in 1951 he went on to study conducting and composition at the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied with such prominent figures as Nadja Boulanger, Luigi Dallapiccola and Olivier Messiaen.
Upon his return to Israel, Bertini facilitated the establishment of a number of organizations which have shaped the musical landscape in the young country: in 1955 he founded the Rinat Choir, which quickly acquired a wide reputation and became the Israel Chamber Choir; in 1965 he likewise established the Israeli Chamber Ensemble (now the Israeli Chamber Orchestra); in 1978, he created the annual “Liturgica” festival in Jerusalem; he was the artistic adviser of the Israel Festival and Batsheva Dance Company; and from 1994 onwards he was artistic director of the New Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv, a post he still held at his death. During his residency as director the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, IBA, grew from 50 to 90 musicians, and it was largely due to his insistence that the Henry Crown hall was built as the orchestra’s permanent lodging.
Bertini’s international career spread globally. He served as music adviser to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and was the chief conductor of the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra. He was music director of the Frankfurt Opera for three years and since 1998 he was the artistic director of the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo. Bertini was a frequent guest conductor with the world’s leading orchestras and performed steadily at the most prestigious opera centers, including La Scala in Milano and the Bastille Opera in Paris.
Bertini was also an important composer, and wrote music for over thirty plays. His enthusiastic support of Israeli music is reflected in recordings of over 20 orchestral works by Israeli composers and likewise by over 20 premières to his name. Bertini is the recipient of several prizes and honorary titles, among them the prestigious Israel Prize (1978).
Born in Berlin in 1922 as Lukas Fuchs, he started learning piano and begun composing as early as seven years old. At the age of 11, while he lived in Paris for four years, he studied piano with Lazare Lévy, as well as composition, orchestration and the flute. At the age of 15 the family relocated to the USA, and the young Lukas enrolled to Curtis Institute. During the summers of the following years he took lessons in conducting with Koussevitzky at the Berkshire Music Center and, as a special student at Yale University, composition with Hindemith (1939–40).
Foss’ talent shown at a very early age both as a pianist and composer. In 1944 he won wide acclaim for the cantata The Prairie which received the New York Music Critics’ Circle Award. That year Foss became pianist in the Boston Symphony Orchestra. A position he retained until 1950. In 1951 he further established his reputation when he appeared as soloist the première of his Piano Concerto no.2 in Venice. After receiving Fellowships from the Guggenheim fund, the American Academy in Rome and a Fulbright grant, Foss was appointed professor of music (composition and conducting) at UCLA in 1953, where he could utilize his capacity for facilitating various innovative platforms, founding the Improvisation Chamber Ensemble and directing 12 ‘marathon’ thematic concerts at the Ojai Festival with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.
Persistent in his quest to communicate new and exciting music to the audience, Foss was to conduct such concerts throughout the various stations in his career, which included, in the following years: conducting and directing of the Philharmonic Orchestra in Buffalo, where he also founded the Center for Creative and Performing Arts; serving as conductor of the Brooklyn Philharmonia (which later became the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra) and from 1972 to 1976 serving as conductor of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, IBA; establishing Meet the Moderns a series of new music concerts in Brooklynwhich included discussions with composers; directing the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra; and appearing as guest conductor with many orchestras in the USA and Europe, as well as lecturing widely at colleges and universities across the USA.
Foss is known for his compositions in as much as his achievements as a conductor, having completed four symphonies, four operas, including The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County on the story by Mark Twain, concerti for oboe, for piano, for flute and orchestra and four string quartets. Foss, who was always curious and innovative, composed visionary works that incorporateed improvisation and composition, including Time Cycle for soprano and orchestra which received the New York Music Critics’ Circle Award of 1961, and even experimented with electronics and with minimalism. Yet in his later works he self professedly strove ‘to be as crazy as I was in my avant-garde music and yet tonal”, and created works such as his Symphony No. 3,Symphony Of Sorrows, works which are sincere, imbued with overwhelming sentiment.
David Shalon (1950-2000)
David Shalon was the music director of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, IBA from 1992 until his tragic death in 2000. He also served as the music director of the Luxemburg Philharmonic Orchestra and as chief guest conductor of the Spanish Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra and in 1987-1993 he was the chief conductor of the Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra.
Shalon was born in Tel Aviv and studied the violin with Rami Shavalov and Aliza Fenibash, and studied French horn with Yaakov Mishori. His early steps in conducting were taken under the guidance of Noam Sheriff, and were subsequently followed in Vienna under the tutelage of famed conducting professor Hans Swarovski. While in Vienna, Shalon was invited by Leonard Bernstein to serve as the Maestro’s assistant at the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. After Shalon made his debuts with both the Vienna Symphony and The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in 1980 he has made numerous appearances with the world’s most prestigious orchestras, including the philharmonic orchestras of Berlin, Vienna, Stockholm and London, The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the orchestras of cities such as Leipzig, Huston and San Francisco, The orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, The Gewandhaus Orchestra and many others. In addition, he has conducted Opera productions at the Opera houses of Vienna, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Tel Aviv and others. In his last years Shalon served as the conductor of the Young German Philharmonic Orchestra.
David Shalon has premièred many new works by Israeli composers, as well by composers such as Henze, Gounod and Penderecki. The greatest soloists of our generation have appeared under his baton, most notably Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman, Steven Isserlis, Gideon Kramer, Heinrich Schiff, Tabea Zimmermann, Radu Lupo and Victoria de los Ángeles. Shalon has recorded a number of albums, among which were two albums recorded with Tabea Zimmerman and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, IBA: an award winning CD featuring the Viola concertos of Bartók and Hindemith and an additional CD featuring the viola concerti of Schnittke and Kopytman. Shalon passed away on September 15th, 2000, in the midst of a concert tour in Japan. with his wife Tabea and their son Yuval by his side.
Leon Botstein, Conductor Laurate
Leon Botstein is music director and principal conductor of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra,IBA, and the American Symphony Orchestra in New York. Radio broadcasts of Mr. Botstein’s concerts
with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra may be heard in syndication throughout the United States. He is also the founder and co-artistic director ofthe Bard Music Festival. Since 1975 he has beenpresident of Bard College in New York.
A recording of Paul Dukas’ opera Ariane et Barbebleue with the BBC Symphony was recently released by Telarc. Mr. Botstein also recently conducted the BBC Symphony in a gala concert on Armistice Day at the Royal Albert Hall of World Requiem(Fould) with a live recording from Chandos. Last fall, he led the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra in a tour of the U.S. West Coast (following 2006’s triumphant tour of the
East Coast). Last June he triumphantly led the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra at the opening concert of the Bach Leipzig Festival with a performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah, honoring the composer’s 200th birthday.
In addition to a demanding schedule as a guest conductor, Mr. Botstein has also made a number of prestigious recordings of works by Chausson, Copland, Sessions, Perle, Dohnányi, Liszt, Bruckner, Bartók, Hartmann, Reger, Glière, and Szymanowski for such labels as Telarc, New World Records, Bridge, Koch, and Arabeseque. With the American Symphony Orchestra he has recorded live performances of two operas by Richard Strauss: Die ägyptische Helena with Deborah Voigt and Die Liebe der Danae with Lauren Flanigan. His recording with the London Symphony Orchestra of Gavriil Popov’s epic Symphony No.1 and Shostakovich’s Theme and Variations, Op. 3, received a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Orchestral Performance. Among the orchestras with which he has performed are the BBC Symphony, London Symphony, London Philharmonic, NDR-Hamburg, NDR-Hannover, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Budapest Festival Orchestra, and Teatro Real in Madrid.
Mr. Botstein is the editor of The Musical Quarterly and the author of numerous articles and books. For his contributions to music he has received the award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and Harvard University’s prestigious Centennial Award, as well as the Cross of Honor, First Class from the government of Austria.