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Esa-Pekka Salonen


Esa-Pekka Salonen

Esa-Pekka Salonen waiting to carry the torch for the 2012 Summer Olympics torch relay

Esa-Pekka Salonen (   : ess'-uh peck'-uh sall'-oh-nen; born June 30, 1958) is a Finnish orchestral conductor and composer. He is currently Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, Conductor Laureate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Composer-In-Residence at the New York Philharmonic, and Artistic Director and cofounder of the Baltic Sea Festival.


  • Life and career 1
    • Early work 1.1
    • Los Angeles Philharmonic 1.2
    • Philharmonia and subsequent career 1.3
    • Digital Projects 1.4
    • Apple campaign 1.5
    • Batons 1.6
    • Personal life 1.7
  • Career highlights 2
  • Composing 3
    • Selected compositions 3.1
  • Selected world premiere performances 4
  • Recordings 5
    • Best-known recordings 5.1
    • Los Angeles Philharmonic recordings 5.2
      • Deutsche Grammophon 5.2.1
      • DG Concerts — recorded live at Walt Disney Concert Hall 5.2.2
      • ECM 5.2.3
      • Nonesuch 5.2.4
      • Ondine 5.2.5
      • Philips Classics 5.2.6
      • Sony Classical 5.2.7
    • Philharmonia recordings 5.3
    • Oslo Philharmonic recordings 5.4
    • Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra recordings 5.5
    • Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra recordings 5.6
    • Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra recordings 5.7
    • Avanti! Chamber Orchestra recordings 5.8
    • London Sinfonietta recordings 5.9
    • Stockholm Chamber Orchestra recordings 5.10
    • Stockholm Sinfonietta recordings 5.11
    • Staatskapelle Dresden recordings 5.12
    • Finnish National Opera recordings 5.13
    • Other recordings of Salonen works 5.14
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Life and career

Early work

Salonen, born in Helsinki, Finland, studied horn and composition at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, as well as conducting with Jorma Panula. His conducting classmates included Jukka-Pekka Saraste and Osmo Vänskä. Another classmate on the composition side was the composer Magnus Lindberg and together they formed the new-music appreciation group Korvat auki ("Ears open" in the Finnish language) and the experimental ensemble Toimii (lit. "It works"). Later, Salonen studied with the composers Franco Donatoni, Niccolò Castiglioni and Einojuhani Rautavaara.

His first experience with conducting came in 1979 with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, though he still thought of himself principally as a composer; in fact, Salonen has said that the primary reason he took up conducting was to ensure that someone would conduct his own compositions. In 1983, however, he replaced an indisposed Michael Tilson Thomas to conduct a performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 3 with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London at very short notice without ever having studied the score before that time, and it launched his career as a conductor.[1] He was subsequently principal guest conductor of the Philharmonia from 1985 to 1994.

Salonen was principal conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1984 to 1995. He co-founded the Baltic Sea Festival in 2003 with Michael Tydén and Valery Gergiev. This summer music festival presents new classical music and aims to bring the countries around the Baltic Sea together and to raise awareness for the environmental deterioration of the Baltic. It continues to be held annually in one of the countries in the region.[2]

Los Angeles Philharmonic

Salonen made his U.S. conducting debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1984. His initial reaction was as follows:

I had no idea what to expect. But the one thing that I didn't expect was when an older player came to talk to me after the first concert and said, 'Consider this your future home.' Something was going on, because I felt the same. I sensed with an absolute certainty that this orchestra, in whatever way, was going to be a very important part of my life. Always.[3]

In 1989, he was offered the title of Principal Guest Conductor by Executive VP Ernest Fleischmann and was to take the orchestra on a tour of Japan; however, controversy ensued when André Previn, the orchestra's Music Director at the time, was not consulted on either the Principal Guest appointment or the tour, and objected to both. Continued friction between Fleischmann and Previn led to Previn's resignation in April 1989.[4] Four months later, Salonen was named the orchestra's tenth Music Director, officially taking the post in 1992 and holding it until 2009.

Salonen's tenure with the orchestra first began with a residency at the 1992 Salzburg Festival in concert performances and as the pit orchestra in a production of the opera Saint François d'Assise by Olivier Messiaen; it was the first time an American orchestra was given that opportunity. Salonen later took the orchestra on many other tours of the United States, Europe, and Asia, and residencies at the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland, The Proms in London, in Cologne for a festival of Salonen's own works, and perhaps most notably, in 1996 at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris for a Stravinsky festival conducted by Salonen and Pierre Boulez; it was during this Paris residency that key Philharmonic board members heard the orchestra perform in improved acoustics and were re-invigorated to lead fundraising efforts to complete construction of Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Under Salonen's leadership, the Philharmonic became an extremely progressive and well-regarded orchestra. Alex Ross of The New Yorker said this:

The Salonen era in L.A. may mark a turning point in the recent history of classical music in America. It is a story not of an individual magically imprinting his personality on an institution – what Salonen has called the "empty hype" of conductor worship – but of an individual and an institution bringing out unforeseen capabilities in each other, and thereby proving how much life remains in the orchestra itself, at once the most conservative and the most powerful of musical organisms.[5]

In 2007, Salonen and the orchestra announced the conclusion of his music directorship in 2009, with Gustavo Dudamel taking his place.[6][7][8][9]

Before Salonen's last concert as Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic on April 19, 2009, the orchestra announced his appointment as its first ever "Conductor Laureate".[10] In addition, the LA Philharmonic created the Esa-Pekka Salonen Commissions Fund "for the express purpose of supporting the commissioning and performance of new works" as a way to honor his support of contemporary classical music during his tenure as Music Director. At its inception, it was endowed with $1.5 Million.[11][12]

During Salonen's tenure as music director, the orchestra gave 120 pieces their world or American debuts and commissioned over 54 new works. By the time he stepped down, he had served as music director longer than anyone else in the orchestra's history, leading the orchestra in 973 concerts and 23 tours.[13][14]

Philharmonia and subsequent career

In November 2006, the Philharmonia Orchestra announced the appointment of Salonen as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor at the beginning of the 2008/09 season.[15] His initial contract was for 3 years. Salonen has conducted several commercial recordings with the Philharmonia, including music of Berlioz and Schönberg.[16] In November 2010, the Philharmonia announced the extension of Salonen's contract to 2014.[17] In September 2013, the orchestra announced the further extension of Salonen's contract through the 2016–2017 season.[18]

Salonen has stated a desire to conduct Wagner's Parsifal, but turned down an offer of The Ring Cycle at Bayreuth.[3] His Metropolitan Opera conducting debut was in November 2009 with the Patrice Chéreau production of Leoš Janáček's From the House of the Dead.[19]

In 2012 his violin concerto written for Leila Josefowicz won the Grawemeyer Award (Music Composition), an award previously won by Witold Lutosławski, György Ligeti, John Adams (composer), Thomas Adès, and Pierre Boulez, to name a few.[20] In March 2014, he was awarded the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Musical Composition by the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University. The award includes a $100,000 cash prize, a residency of four nonconsecutive weeks at the school over the next two years, and a performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.[21] In the same spring, he was also awarded the first-ever Creative Chair at the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich for the 2014–2015 season. This post included, lectures, workshops, but, most significantly, the commissioning of Karawane, a new piece for orchestra and chorus based on Hugo Ball's dada poetry, and the performance of nine other Salonen pieces throughout the season.[22]

He will be the Composer-in-Residence at the New York Philharmonic from the fall of 2015 to the spring of 2019.[23]

Digital Projects

Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra have worked on multi-disciplinary festivals together, including Woven Words: Music begins where words end to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Witold Lutosławski, Salonen's mentor.[24] They also created the award-winning RE-RITE installation, which was first exhibited in London in 2009 and has since travelled to Portugal, China, Turkey, Germany, and Austria. The digital residency allows members of the public to conduct, play and step inside the Philharmonia Orchestra with Salonen through audio and video projections of musicians performing The Rite of Spring.[25] They followed-up with another installation, Universe of Sound, which was based on Gustav Holst’s The Planets, debuted at London’s Science Museum,[26] and won the 2012 Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Audiences and Engagement.[27] Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra, in partnership with Music Sales Group, Rite Digital, and Touch Press, released a successful iPad app, "The Orchestra". Slate called the interactive tour through orchestral history “the perfect classical music app.”[28]

Apple campaign

Esa-Pekka and the Philharmonia performed Lutosławski, Sibelius, and Salonen at the store.

In 2014 Esa-Pekka Salonen was part of an international television and web campaign for Apple, promoting iPad Air.[29] The campaign included not only the ad itself,[30] but also discussions with Salonen on classical music,[31] inspiration,[32] and composing.[33] Apple also offered a new and, for a limited time, free recording of Salonen's Grawemeyer prize-winning violin concerto, featuring the violinist Leila Josefowicz and the Philharmonia Orchestra, 20 of Salonen's classical music picks on the iTunes store classical music page, 15 of Salonen's iPad app picks in the app store, and a guest DJ station on iTunes Radio.

The ad was noted for "the novelty of seeing a contemporary classical composer in a piece of mainstream advertising,"[34] for the synchronization of the video editing with the score, and for the positive portrayal of classical music as compared to its typical pop cultural image.[35] Salonen also did a concert with violinist Leila Josefowicz and the Philharmonia Orchestra in an Apple store in Berlin and spoke about mixing music and technology. It was the first time that a full orchestra had performed in an Apple store.[36]

In the summer of 2015, Salonen spoke on the uses of technology in music education to a group of Apple Distinguished Educators.


Salonen performs with fine cork batons made by Mr Muramatsu, a third generation baton maker in downtown Tokyo who has made batons for some great conductors.

Personal life

Salonen and his wife, Jane Price (a former musician with the Philharmonia Orchestra), have three children: daughters Ella Aneira and Anja Sofia, and son Oliver.[3][37]

When Igor Stravinsky's former Beverly Hills residence at 1260 North Wetherly Drive was put up for sale, Salonen strongly considered buying it. However, after visiting the house and, among other things, noting that indentations from Stravinsky's piano were still visible in the carpet, he was too intimidated by the prospect of trying to compose in the same house where Stravinsky had written such works as Symphony in Three Movements, the Concerto in D for Strings, The Rake's Progress, Orpheus, Agon, the Cantata, and Mass.[38][39][40]

In April 2010, Salonen was elected a Foreign Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[41] In May 2010, he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Southern California, and later the same day spoke at the graduation ceremony for the USC Thornton School of Music.[42] Salonen carried the Olympic Flame on July 26, 2012, as part of the 2012 Summer Olympics torch relay.[43]

Career highlights


Among Salonen's compositions are ...auf den ersten blick und ohne zu wissen... (1980, a saxophone concerto with a title taken from Franz Kafka's The Trial), Floof for soprano and ensemble (1982, on texts by Stanisław Lem) and the orchestral L.A. Variations (1996).

Salonen has stated that his time in California has helped him to be more "free" in his compositions. Mark Swed, chief music critic of the Los Angeles Times, described it this way:

When [Salonen] arrived in Los Angeles, he still liked to consider himself a composer-conductor, but the truth was that he had stopped writing music. "The obvious and easy explanation for me to give to people when they were asking why there hadn't been any new pieces for a while was that I had been conducting so much, I had no time," he said. "But that was only half the explanation." As a European Modernist, Salonen said, he had been inculcated with negatives, such as to avoid melody, harmonic identity and rhythmic pulse. Secretly, though, he was attracted to John Adams, who was then dismissed overseas as being simplistic. "Only after a couple of years here did I begin to see that the European canon I blindly accepted was not the only truth," he said. "Over here, I was able to think about this rule that forbids melody. It's madness. Madness!" Without a European musical elite looking over his shoulder, Salonen began to feel that it was fine to have his own ideas. "My focus moved from an ideological principle to a pleasure principle" is how he described the composition of his breakthrough piece, "LA Variations," which the Philharmonic premiered in 1997. Although a work of great intricacy and virtuosity that doesn't ignore Salonen's Modernist training, "LA Variations" builds on rhythmic innovations closer to Adams. The piece proved an immediate hit, so much so that Salonen was stunned by the reaction and then by the score's continuing success – it has been taken up by several other conductors and had more than 80 performances worldwide.[3]

In order to devote more time to composition, Salonen took a year's sabbatical from conducting in 2000, during which time he wrote a work for solo horn (Concert Étude, the competition piece for Lieksa Brass Week), Dichotomie for pianist Gloria Cheng, Mania for the cellist Anssi Karttunen and sinfonietta, and Gambit, an orchestral piece that was a birthday present for fellow composer and friend Magnus Lindberg.

In 2001, Salonen composed Foreign Bodies, his largest work in terms of orchestration, which incorporated music from the opening movement of Dichotomie. Another orchestral piece, Insomnia, followed in 2002, and another, Wing on Wing, in 2004. Wing on Wing includes parts for two sopranos and distorted samples of architect Frank Gehry's voice as well as a fish.

As is apparent with his interpretations of such avant-garde works as Jan Sandström's

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Herbert Blomstedt
Principal Conductor, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Succeeded by
Yevgeny Svetlanov
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen – Official Website
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen at AllMusic
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen at Sony Classical
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen biography at ChesterNovello
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen gives us his perspective on Turangalîla-Symphonie, including the first time he heard the piece, and how you conduct such a colossal work
  • NewMusicBox cover: Esa-Pekka Salonen in conversation with Frank J. Oteri, June 2, 2005
  • (video excerpts from NewMusicBox)
  • Photo Gallery: "Career retrospective: Esa-Pekka Salonen"Los Angeles Times
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen on Virtual International Philharmonic
  • Interactive timeline of Esa-Pekka Salonen's career

External links

  1. ^ Nicholas Wroe (27 January 2007). "LA Variation". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 April 2007. 
  2. ^ "Festival: Baltic Sea Festival". Bachtrack. Retrieved 15 August 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d Mark Swed (28 September 2008). "How Esa-Pekka Salonen and Los Angeles Philharmonic grew together". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 September 2008. 
  4. ^ Martin Bernheimer (8 October 1989). "The Tyrant of Philharmonic". Los Angeles Times. 
  5. ^ Ross, Alex (April 30, 2007). "The Anti-maestro; How Esa-Pekka Salonen transformed the Los Angeles Philharmonic". The New Yorker. 
  6. ^ Mark Swed (8 April 2007). "Maestro will pass baton to up-and-comer in '09". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 13 April 2007. 
  7. ^ Matthew Westphal (8 April 2007). "Gustavo Dudamel to Replace Esa-Pekka Salonen at LA Philharmonic in 2009". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 13 April 2007. 
  8. ^ Diane Haithman (9 April 2007). "L.A. Philharmonic warms to Gustavo Dudamel". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 13 April 2007. 
  9. ^ David Mermelstein (9 April 2007). "Salonen passing L.A. Phil baton to Dudamel". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved 13 April 2007. 
  10. ^ "Los Angeles Philharmonic creates new honor for Esa-Pekka Salonen". Los Angeles Philharmonic. 19 April 2009. Retrieved 26 August 2009. 
  11. ^ "Esa-Pekka Salonen Commissions Fund". Los Angeles Philharmonic. Retrieved 26 August 2009. 
  12. ^ Alex Ross (2009-05-04). "Adieu: Esa-Pekka Salonen ends his reign at the Los Angeles Philharmonic". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  13. ^ "The Los Angeles Philharmonic celebrates Salonen as he concludes his tenure as Music Director with five world premieres, including his own violin concerto, and a final weekend of works by Stravinsky". Los Angeles Philharmonic. 7 April 2009. Retrieved 26 August 2009. 
  14. ^ Timothy Rutten (2009-04-20). "Esa-Pekka Salonen exits on a high note". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  15. ^ "Philharmonia Orchestra Announces Salonen As Principal Conductor". Retrieved 17 June 2007. 
  16. ^ Tim Ashley (2009-10-09). "Schoenberg: Gurrelieder: Isokoski/Groop/Sukowa/Andersen/CBSO Chorus/Philharmonia Voices/Philharmonia/Salonen". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  17. ^ Martin Kettle (2010-11-02). "'"Esa-Pekka Salonen: 'Start again. That was disgusting. The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  18. ^ "Esa-Pekka Salonen: Contract Marks 30th Anniversary with Philharmonia Orchestra" (PDF) (Press release). Philharmonia Orchestra. 26 September 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  19. ^ Anthony Tommasini (13 November 2009). "Two Debuts, Overdue and Overwhelming". New York Times. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  20. ^ "Salonen’s ‘Violin Concerto’ wins Grawemeyer music award". The Grawemeyer Awards. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  21. ^ a b Allan Kozinn (10 March 2014). "Esa-Pekka Salonen Wins $100,000 Composition Prize". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 May 2014. 
  22. ^ a b Allan Kozinn (1 April 2014). "Salonen Will Hear Lots of His Own Music in New Zurich Post". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 May 2014. 
  23. ^ "Salonen Residency Kicks Off with LA Variations Sept. 25–26". New York Philharmonic. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  24. ^ "Woven Words". Philharmonia Orchestra. Retrieved 15 August 2014. 
  25. ^ Pering, Emma (1 June 2014). "iOrchestra Presents….. re-rite". What's On. Retrieved 15 August 2014. 
  26. ^ Coates, Anne (2 June 2012). "Science Museum hosts Universe of Sound: a virtual Philharmonia Ochestra". Parenting Without Tears. Retrieved 15 August 2014. 
  27. ^ "2012: Audiences and Engagement". Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards. Retrieved 15 August 2014. 
  28. ^ Walls, Seth Colter (21 December 2012). "The Perfect Classical Music App". Slate. Retrieved 15 August 2014. 
  29. ^ "Esa-Pekka Salonen orchestrates a new sound.". Apple. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  30. ^ "Esa Pekka's Verse". YouTube. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  31. ^ "Esa-Pekka on classical music". YouTube. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  32. ^ "Esa-Pekka on inspiration". YouTube. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  33. ^ "Esa-Pekka on composing". YouTube. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  34. ^ Paget, Clive (30 May 2014). "Esa-Pekka Salonen's app advert goes viral". Limelight. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  35. ^ Ross, Alex (26 May 2014). "Esa-Pekka Salonen's Ad for Apple". The New Yorker. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  36. ^ Cullingford, Martin (20 June 2014). "Can Apple’s latest ad reach the classical audiences of tomorrow?". Gramophone. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  37. ^  
  38. ^ Bernard Holland (11 March 2001). "Stravinsky, a Rare Bird Amid the Palms; A Composer in California, At Ease if Not at Home". The New York Times. 
  39. ^ Richard S. Ginnell (1 July 2001). "The Los Angeles Stravinsky Festival". American Record Guide. 
  40. ^ Alex Ross (30 April 2007). "The Anti-maestro; How Esa-Pekka Salonen transformed the Los Angeles Philharmonic". The New Yorker. 
  41. ^ "New American Academy Announces 2010 Class of Fellows and Foreign Honorary Members" (Press release). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 19 April 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  42. ^ David Ng (14 May 2010). "Esa-Pekka Salonen receiving honorary degree at USC". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  43. ^ "Esa-Pekka Salonen",
  44. ^ Los Angeles Times: Esa-Pekka Salonen wins the 2012 Grawemeyer Award
  45. ^ "Esa-Pekka Salonen: Biography". Deutsche Grammophon website. Retrieved 17 September 2008. 
  46. ^ "Salonen Residency Kicks Off with LA Variations Sept. 25–26". New York Philharmonic. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  47. ^ Ivan Hewett (2 November 2005). "A compulsion to compose". Telegraph. Retrieved 13 April 2007. 
  48. ^ "Compositions". Esa-Pekka Salonen website. Retrieved 21 November 2008. 
  49. ^ Swed, Mark (February 12, 2005). Wing' truly catches the wind this time, and sails"'".  
  50. ^  
  51. ^
  52. ^ "Virtual International Philharmonic". 
  53. ^ Swed, Mark (March 15, 2004). "Sounds of eternal spring: Composer Steven Stucky's Second Concerto is a lush, tailored fit for Disney.".  
  54. ^ Child, Fred (April 5, 2005). "Steven Stucky Wins Pulitzer Prize for Music".  
  55. ^ Kosman, Joshua (December 5, 2009). "Stucky's 'Radical Light' a feast of mood, color".  
  56. ^ Hilary Hahn Photo, Daylife (February 8, 2009)


  • Leila Josefowicz, violin, plays Salonen: Lachen verlernt
  • Gloria Cheng, piano, plays Salonen: Yta II, Three Preludes, & Dichotomie
  • Lin Jiang, horn and Benjamin Martin, piano, play Salonen: Hornmusic 1

Other recordings of Salonen works

Finnish National Opera recordings

Staatskapelle Dresden recordings

Stockholm Sinfonietta recordings

Stockholm Chamber Orchestra recordings

London Sinfonietta recordings

Avanti! Chamber Orchestra recordings

Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra recordings

Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra recordings

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra recordings

Oslo Philharmonic recordings

Philharmonia recordings

Sony Classical

Philips Classics



  • Pärt: Symphony No. 4, "Los Angeles"


DG Concerts — recorded live at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Deutsche Grammophon

Los Angeles Philharmonic recordings

Best-known recordings

Salonen is renowned for his dedication to performing and recording contemporary music. His 1985 recording of Witold Lutosławski's Symphony No. 3 won the 1985 Gramophone Award, the Grammy Award, and a Caecilia Prize for Best Contemporary Recording. He later recorded Lutosławski's Symphony No. 4 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, once for Sony Classical, and later in a live recording at Walt Disney Concert Hall for Deutsche Grammophon. He also worked with the Philharmonia Orchestra to record the complete works of György Ligeti for Sony Classical, but unfortunately the project was left unfinished due to lack of funding.


Mark-Anthony Turnage
  • Canticle Weaving: Trombone Concerto #2, Ralph Sauer (trombone), Los Angeles Philharmonic (March 29, 2003)
Augusta Read Thomas
Steven Stucky
  • "Con madera, metal y cuero" for percussion soloist and orchestra, Evelyn Glennie (percussion), Los Angeles Philharmonic (January 21, 1999)
Roberto Sierra
  • Prologue to Orango (orchestration by Gerard McBurney), Ryan McKinny (Veselchak, bass-baritone), Jordan Bisch (Voice from the Crowd/Bass, bass), Michael Fabiano (Zoologist, tenor), Eugene Brancoveanu (Orango, baritone), Yulia Van Doren (Susanna, soprano), Timur Bekbosunov (Paul Mash, tenor), Los Angeles Master Chorale (Grant Gershon, Music Director), Los Angeles Philharmonic (December 2, 2011)
Dmitri Shostakovich
  • Piano Concerto No. 5, Olli Mustonen (piano), Los Angeles Philharmonic (October 21, 1999)
Rodion Shchedrin
  • Du Cristal, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra (September 1990)
  • "…a la fumée," Petri Alanko (alto flute) and Anssi Karttunen (cello), Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra (March 1991)
  • Graal Theatre for violin and orchestra, Gidon Kremer (violin), BBC Symphony Orchestra (September 1995)
  • Adriana Mater, Orchestra & Choir of the Paris Opera (April 2006)
Kaija Saariaho
  • Symphony (The Stages of Life), Los Angeles Philharmonic (April 29, 1993)
Roger Reynolds
  • Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic (February 24, 1994)
Bernard Rands
Arvo Pärt
  • Altar de Piedra, concerto for percussion ensemble & orchestra, Kroumata (percussion), Los Angeles Philharmonic, January 2003
Gabriela Ortiz
David Newman
  • Horn Concerto, Richard Watkins (horn), Philharmonia Orchestra (April 2001)
Colin Matthews
  • "Deal" for electric guitar and large ensemble, Bill Frisell (guitar), Joey Baron (drums), Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group (April 17, 1995)
Steven Mackey
  • "Harlequin" for bass trombone and orchestra, Jeffrey Reynolds (bass trombone), David Weiss, Los Angeles Philharmonic (May 23, 1997)
Larry Lipkis
  • Kraft for solo ensemble & orchestra, Finnish Radio Orchestra and the TOIMII-ensemble (September 4, 1985)
  • Campana in Aria for horn and orchestra, Hans Dullaert (horn), Radio Filharmonisch Orkest Holland (June 1998)
  • Fresco for orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, (1998)
  • Cello concerto, Anssi Karttunen (cello), Orchestre de Paris (May 1999)
  • Chorale for orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra (2002)
  • Parada for orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra (2002)
  • Sculpture for orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, (October 6, 2005)
Magnus Lindberg
Peter Lieberson
  • The Grand Encounter, English Horn Concerto, Carolyn Hove (English horn), Los Angeles Philharmonic (January 16, 2003)
William Kraft
  • Clang and Fury, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
  • Celestial mechanics Stockholm Chamber Orchestra (31/10 1986)
  • Liquid marble, Orkester Norden, (Tampere 1995)
  • Meltdown Variations, Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group (1999)
  • Dreaming Rivers, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic (1999)
  • Piano Concerto (revised version) Roland Pöntinen and the AVANTI! Chamber Orchestra
  • Eleven Gates, Los Angeles Philharmonic (May 4, 2006)
  • Flood Dreams, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra (Brussels, 2009)
  • Sirens, Anne Sofie von Otter and the Los Angeles Philharmonic (2011)
  • Esa (in Cauda V), Los Angeles Philharmonic (February 16, 2001)
Franco Donatoni
John Corigliano
  • Within Her Arms for string orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic (April 7, 2009)[50]
Anna Clyne
  • "Haags Hakkûh" (The Hague Hacking) – Double Piano Concerto, Katia and Marielle Labèque (pianos), Los Angeles Philharmonic (January 16, 2009)
Louis Andriessen
  • "Naïve & Sentimental Music," Los Angeles Philharmonic (February 19, 1999)
  • "The Dharma at Big Sur," Tracy Silverman (electric violin), Los Angeles Philharmonic (October 24, 2003)
John Adams

In addition to conducting his own compositions, Salonen has actively championed other composers' music, most notably Magnus Lindberg, Kaija Saariaho, and Steven Stucky. Many noteworthy compositions have even been dedicated to Salonen. Below is a list of some of the world premieres that he has conducted:

Selected world premiere performances

  • 1980 Concerto for alto saxophone and orchestra (...auf den ersten blick und ohne zu wissen...) (Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Pekka Savijoki, saxophone; 22 September 1981, Helsinki)
  • 1982 Giro for orchestra (Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra, Finland; 27 November 1981), revised 1997 (Avanti! chamber orchestra, Summer Sounds; 29 June 1997, Porvoo)
  • 1982 Floof (Songs of a Homeostatic Homer) for soprano and chamber ensemble (Anu Komsi, soprano, Toimii Ensemble; 27 August 1988, Helsinki)
  • 1992 Mimo II for oboe and orchestra (Jorma Valjakka, oboe, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra; 14 December 1992, Helsinki)
  • 1996 L.A. Variations for orchestra (Los Angeles Philharmonic; January 16, 1997, Los Angeles)
  • 1999 Five Images after Sappho for soprano and chamber ensemble (Laura Claycomb, soprano; Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group; June 4, 1999, Ojai, California)
  • 2000 Dichotomie for solo piano (Gloria Cheng, piano; December 4, 2000, Los Angeles)
  • 2000 Mania for cello and orchestra or ensemble (Anssi Karttunen, cello, Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, Summer Sounds; 2 July 2000, Porvoo)
  • 2001 Foreign Bodies (Finish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Jukka-Pekka Saraste; 12 August 2001, Schleswig-Holstein Festival, Kiel)
  • 2002 Insomnia (NHK Symphony Orchestra; Tokyo, 1 December 2002)
  • 2002 Lachen verlernt (Laughing Unlearned), chaconne for violin (Cho-Liang Lin, violin; 10 August 2002, La Jolla, California, La Jolla SummerFest)
  • 2004 Stockholm Diary for orchestra (Stockholm Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Stockholm, Composer Festival, October 27, 2004)
  • 2004 Wing on Wing for orchestra and two sopranos (Los Angeles Philharmonic; Jamie Chamberlin and Hila Plitmann, sopranos; June 5, 2004)[49]
  • 2005 Helix (World Orchestra for Peace, Valery Gergiev; August 29, 2005, London)
  • 2007 Piano Concerto (Yefim Bronfman, piano; New York Philharmonic; February 1, 2007, New York)
  • 2009 Violin Concerto (Leila Josefowicz, violin; Los Angeles Philharmonic; April 9, 2009, Los Angeles)
  • 2010 Nyx (Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France; February 19, 2011, Paris)
  • 2011 Dona Nobis Pacem for a cappella chorus (February 4, 2011, Chatelet Theatre)
  • 2014 Karawane for orchestra and chorus (Lionel Bringuier conducting, September 10, 2014, Tonhalle Zurich)

World premiere details shown where available, Salonen conducting unless otherwise shown[48]

Selected compositions

Salonen has among his intended composing projects a proposed opera based on the novel The Woman and the Ape by Peter Høeg.


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