Gennady Rozhdestvensky, one of today’s greatest conductors, was born in Moscow in 1931. He studied the piano with Lev Oborin and conducting with his father, Nikolaï Anosov, at the Moscow Conservatoire. At the age of 20, he was engaged at the Bolshoi Theatre where he made his début conducting Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty. His was to be a long term relationship with the Bolshoi: he became their principal conductor between 1964 and 1970, and in 2000 was appointed their General Music Director.
For many years, he also headed the Moscow Radio Orchestra and became the first Soviet conductor, ever to be appointed principal conductor of various foreign orchestras: the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, and the Stockholm Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Gennady Rozhdestvensky also conducted an impressive number of performances at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden (Boris Godunov and new productions of The Golden Cockrell and The Nutcracker), at the Paris Opera (The Queen of Spades), at La Scala (The Legend of Tsar Saltan by Rimsky-Korsakov and Der fliegende Holländer) among others.
He has also participated in dozens of world premieres of new or newly found works, some of which were dedicated to him: works by composers including Prokofiev, Shostakovitch, John Tavener, Alfred Schnittke, Rodion Shchédrine etc. In 2001, he gave the first performance of the original version of Prokofiev’s opera The Gambler at the Bolshoi Theatre.
His prolific discography reveals his insatiable curiosity and makes him one of the most recorded conductors of all time. His present catalogue features well over 400 records comprising the astounding number of 786 different works.
In 2011, he celebrated his 80th birthday together with the 60th anniversary of his conducting debut with a special evening at the Bolshoi Theatre (New Stage) in which he conducted scenes from The Sleeping Beauty, the Coronation scene from Boris Godunov and Rachmaninov’s 2nd Symphony.
Rozhdestvensky is the recipient of the French Legion of honour, of the Japanese Order of the Rising Sun, and an Honorary Member of the Stockholm and British Academies.
In 2014, he received an honorary CBE for his services to music and led the Bolshoi Opera in concert performances of The Tsar’s Bride at Lincoln Centre, New York. Sedgwick Clark in Musical America referred to him as ‘this great conductor’ and called for his return. He will indeed return to the US to conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra this season which also sees him celebrate his 85th birthday in a month-long series of concerts in Moscow, tour the Far East and return to orchestras in European centres including Dresden and Paris.