Born Yuri Khatuyevich Temirkanov, December 10, 1938, in Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria (Russian republic); son of Khatu Sagidovich Temirkanov and Polina Petrovna Temirkanova; married Irina Guseva (died 1997), one son,Vladimir. Education: Leningrad Conservatoire, graduated 1962 and 1965. Addresses: Business State Philharmonic, Mikhailovskaya 2, St. Petersburg, Russia; c/o Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201.
Celebrated conductor Yuri Temirkanov brought his talents from the former Soviet Union through Europe, and to the United States. In 1999 he accepted a position as the principal conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra while retaining simultaneous positions as the principal conductor of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London. Temirkanov is recognized globally as a precise orchestral conductor, highly knowledgeable of musical composition and intuitive in his direction.
Temirkanov was born Yuri Khatuyevich Temirkanov on December 10, 1938, in Nalchik, the capitol city of the southern Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, on the Northern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains. He was born to Khatu Sagidovich Temirkano and Polina Petrovna Temirkanova. Khatu Temirkano was the minister of culture for the republic. The family lived in Nalchik until 1941, when Khatu Temirkano was executed during the German invasion. Just prior to his death, the composer Sergei Prokofieff and his future wife, Mira Mendelson, lived for a time with Temirkanov's family. Prokofieff was involved in writing the score of War and Peace at the time.
At the command of the Soviet regime, Temirkanov began to study music at age nine. It was the young boy's teacher who selected the violin as Termirkanov's instrument. At age 13 he went to Leningrad, sent by his teacher, to the School for Talented Children. Temirkanov studied both viola and violin and went on to the Leningrad Conservatory (Conservatoire). He graduated in a violin program there in 1962. Temirkanov came to consider Leningrad as home since he movedthere at age 13. Beginning in 1961, he played violin with the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra until 1966. Between 1966 and 1968, he was a conductor for the Maly Theatre and Opera studio in Leningrad. During much of that time he continued at the Conservatoire in a post-graduate program of conducting, while working under Evgeny Mravinsky as an assistant conductor withthe Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. Temirkanov graduated in conducting in 1965, and debuted with the Leningrad Opera that same year.
From 1968 until 1977, Temirkanov led the Leningrad Symphony (a different group fromMravinsky's Leningrad Philharmonic). He then took over as the chief conductor of the KirovOpera and Ballet Company in 1977. His most memorable operatic productions included Shchedrin's Dead Souls, Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades and Eugene Onegin at Kirov; as well as Porgy and Bess earlier at Maly. Temirkanov made his recording debut in 1973, performing the Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2with the Royal Philharmonic, a popular rendition that was re-released in 1998 on CD. American Record Guide's Philip Haldeman called the performance "warmer [and] more passionate" than other interpretations. In 1979 Temirkanov joined the faculty of the Leningrad Conservatoire as a professor and served there until 1988. In1979, he was named the principal guest conductor of the Royal Philharmonic of London, and in1988 he assumed a position as the chief conductor and artistic director of the Leningrad Philharmonic, behind his mentor, Mravinsky. Temirkanov retained his position with thatorchestra throughout the 1990s. In 1992 he added to his credits the title of chief conductor of theLondon Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, an organization which he formerly led as principal guestconductor.
Baltimore Symphony and Orchestras Worldwide
Temirkanov's made his conducting debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 1992 and began a lasting affiliation with that organization. He returned in 1995, 1996, and 1998. In1999 he assumed a position as the music director of the orchestra, and later that year he was appointed to succeed David Zinman as principal conductor of the Baltimore Symphony. In addition to his permanent positions, Termirkanov was named to a host of guest conductor positions, including principal guest conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra. He served as guest conductor to orchestras around the world, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, L'Orchestre de Paris, theDresden Staatskapelle, the Royal Concertgebouw of Amsterdam, as well as orchestras in Scandinavia and in Sweden in 1968. Additionally he has held positions in the United States in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles since1981.
In 1988, under an exclusive contract to BMG/RCA Records, Temirkanov recorded the Stravinsky ballets and Tchaikovsky symphonies with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. His other sound recordings included performances of Shostakovich and Prokofieff, Rachmaninoff,Ravel, and Sibelius with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. He is well known for his performances on four continents, including Europe, South America, Japan, and other Asian countries. A critically acclaimed tour to the United States took him to Philadelphia, Cincinnati, San Francisco,and Minneapolis. Although audiences worldwide appreciate his presentations and interpretationsof the works of the great Russian composers, Temirkanov is equally at ease with the music of non-Russian composers. He avers wholeheartedly that music is an international phenomenon thatshould not be compartmentalized by nationality.
Accomplishments and Awards
Temirkanov came to the conductor's post of the Leningrad Orchestra in 1968. His appointment followed 50 years of leadership by Mravinsky, a brilliant conductor who brought that orchestra into its standing as a world-class organization even amid the turmoil of World War II. Mravinsky led the orchestra until his death in 1989. Temirkanov patiently resurrected the long-lost vigor of the famed musicians and restored the orchestra to its legendary brilliance. In1991 Temirkanov was quoted in American Record Guide as saying, "Mravinsky was the one who made the orchestra's name. [It was my job] to persuade the musicians to trust me." UnderTemirkanov's leadership the orchestra was revitalized and took on new qualities. In 1991, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the official name of the city of Leningrad was restored by popular vote to St. Petersburg. Temirkanov restored the name of the Philharmonic to follow suit, and the orchestra again became known as the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. The collapse of the Soviet regime brought new freedom for musicians to travel freely abroad without the overbearing security and surveillance tactics characteristic of the old government.Since that time Temirkanov has retained his Russian citizenship, but has performed as much as possible in the United States. Regretfully he acknowledged that the situation in Russia resulted from the poor civic and economic climate of his motherland following the political upheaval ofthe 1990s. Many Russian musicians were unemployed during the 1990s, while others who were fortunate enough to secure work were paid only rarely, if ever. Temirkanov and the St.Petersburg Philharmonic were among the fortunate few to secure rewarding assignments. They received a commission from RCA Victor in 1995 to create a restored soundtrack for the early film classic, Alexander Nevsky. Stalin the film was originally produced in 1938, the year of Temirkanov's birth. Ironically the movie was released as a propaganda vehicle to warn of the looming danger of a German invasion the very circumstance that became a tragic reality in 1941when Temirkanov was three years old. Stereo Review compared the luster of the completed stereo soundtrack led by Temirkanov to the restoration of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling in Vatican City.
In 1995 Temirkanov conducted the San Francisco Orchestra through the Prokofieff soundtrack of the Sergei Eisenstein epic, Ivan the Terrible. American Record Guide critic Marilyn Tucker, called the music "extraordinary," and said that "Temirkanov sketched the scenes with a brush that painted up the immense scale and vitality of both the film and the music."
Temirkanov has been the recipient of numerous awards and prizes, even during the years o frepressive rule by the Soviet government. In 1966 he won first prize in the All Soviet-Union Conductors' Competition, and he was named the winner of the Moscow National Conducting Competition in 1967. Temirkanov received the Glinka Prize, a State Prize awarded by the former Soviet Union, in 1976 and in 1985. In 1981 he was also named the People's Artist of the Soviet Union.
Temirkanov has one son, Vladimir, who plays violin for the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. Temirkanov's wife, Irina Guseva, died in 1997.
by Gloria Cooksey
Yuri Temirkanov's Career
First violinist, Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, 1961-66; conductor, Maly Theatreand Opera Studio, Leningrad, 1966-68; chief conductor, Leningrad Symphony Orchestra,1968-76; Kirov Opera and Ballet Company, 1976-88; professor, Leningrad Conservatoire,1979-88; artistic director, Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra (later St. Petersburg Philharmonic),1988; signed with BMG/RCA, 1988; chief conductor, London Philharmonic Orchestra, 1992 ;music director, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, 1999 ; principal guest conductor, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Philadelphia Orchestra; guest conductor numerous countries; opera productions: Porgy and Bess; Peter theGreat; Dead Souls; Queen of Spades, Eugene Onegin, 1979.
Yuri Temirkanov's Awards
First Prize, U.S.S.R. All-Union Conductors' Competition, 1966; Moscow National Conducting Competition Winner, 1967; Glinka Prize, U.S.S.R State Prize, 1976, 1985;U.S.S.R. People's Artist, 1981.
- Selected discography
- Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker , RCA Victor, 1995.
- Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7 "Leningrad," (with St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra),RCA Victor, 1996.
- Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2 (with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra), 1998.
- Rachmaninoff, Symphony No. 2 (with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra).
- Rimsky-Korsakov, Scheherazade / Russian Easter Overture (with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra)
- Tchaikovsky Gala (St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, with Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Jessye Norman) .
- American Record Guide,January-February 1996; January-February 1998; March April1998.
- San Francisco Chronicle, November 16, 1997.
- Stereo Review, May 1995.
- Washington Post, April 18, 1999.
- "Gramophone Chat Transcript," http://www.gramophone.co.uk/chats.html (March 19, 1999).