Internationally acclaimed American conductor Leonard Slatkin began his tenure as Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in September of 2008. In addition to his post at the DSO, he serves as Music Director of the Orchestre National de Lyon (ONL), France, an appointment which began in August of 2011. He is also Principal Guest Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, a post that began in the fall of 2008, and is the author of a new book entitled Conducting Business.
Following a 17-year appointment as Music Director of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Slatkin became Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. in 1996. Other positions in the United States have included Principal Guest Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra, where he founded their Sommerfest; first Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra’s summer series at the Blossom Music Festival, an appointment he held for nine years; Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl for three seasons; and additional positions with the New Orleans Philharmonic and the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. In Great Britain he served as Principal Guest Conductor of both the Philharmonia Orchestra of London and the Royal Philharmonic, and was also Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
Since his debut with the New York Philharmonic in 1974, Slatkin has led virtually all of the world’s leading orchestras including those of Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Cleveland, Minnesota and Philadelphia. European orchestras include the Berlin Philharmonic, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Czech Philharmonic, Bayerische Rundfunk and all the prominent ensembles in Paris and London. He has also appeared on podiums throughout the Far East and is a regular guest at major summer festivals such as Aspen, Tanglewood, Ravinia, and Saratoga.
Opera performances have taken him to many of the leading stages in the U.S. and abroad, including the Metropolitan Opera, Opera Theater of St. Louis, the Santa Fe Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera Bastille, the Vienna Staatsoper, the Stuttgart Opera, and the Washington National Opera.
Recently, he has enjoyed return appearances with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Seoul Philharmonic, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and the Orquesta Nacional de Madrid. His engagements for the 2012-2013 season include the NHK Symphony, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Czech Philharmonic, the St. Louis Symphony, the Nashville Symphony and the State Symphony Orchestra of Russia.
Slatkin's more than 100 recordings have been recognized with seven Grammy awards and 64 nominations. He has recorded with the symphony orchestras of Detroit, Saint Louis, Nashville and Chicago, as well as the New York Philharmonic, the Minnesota Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, and all of the major London orchestras as well as those in Munich, Paris, Lyon, Prague, Stockholm and Berlin.
Throughout his career, Slatkin has demonstrated a continuing commitment to arts education and to reaching diverse audiences. He was the founder, and for nine seasons director, of the National Conducting Institute, an advanced career development program for rising conductors. Slatkin also founded the Saint Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, and he continues to work with student orchestras throughout the world.
Slatkin has received many honors and awards, including the 2003 National Medal of Arts (the highest award given to artists by the United States Government), the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, the American Symphony Orchestra League’s Gold Baton for service to American music, ASCAP awards with both the National and Saint Louis Symphonies, the Lifetime Achievement Award at the DC Mayor’s Arts Awards, and the prestigious Declaration of Honor in Silver from the Austrian ambassador to the United States for outstanding contributions to cultural relations. Slatkin is the Arthur R. Metz Foundation Conductor at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, and beginning with the 2007-2008 season, the Distinguished Artist in Residence at the American University. He has received honorary doctorates from many institutions including his alma mater, the Julliard School, Indiana University, Michigan State University, Washington University in St. Louis, and Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
Born in Los Angeles to a distinguished musical family, his parents were the conductor-violinist Felix Slatkin and cellist Eleanor Aller, founding members of the famed Hollywood String Quartet. Slatkin began his musical studies on the violin and studied conducting with his father, followed by Walter Susskind at Aspen and Jean Morel at The Juilliard School. He is the proud parent of a son, Daniel, who attends the University of Southern California. He is married to composer, Cindy McTee, and they reside in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.