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Gennady Rozhdestvensky (Conductor)

Born: May 4, 1931 - Moscow, Russia

The eminent Russian conductor and pedagogue, Gennady [Gennadi] Nikolaievich Rozhdestvensky, was born in Moscow. His parents were the noted conductor and pedagogue Nikolai Anosov and soprano Natalya Rozhdestvenskaya. His given name was Gennady Nikolayevich Anosov, but he adopted his mother’s maiden name in its masculine form for his professional career so as to avoid the appearance of nepotism. His younger brother, the painter P.N. Anosov, retained their father's name. He studied the piano with Lev Oborin and conducting with his father, Nikolaï Anosov, at the Moscow Conservatoire.

At the unusually early age of 20, still a student at the Conservatoire, Gennady Rozhdestvensky was engaged at the Bolshoi Theatre where he made his debut conducting Tchaikovsky's ballet 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. At the Bolshoi, he has conducted more than thirty operas and ballets, and gave the world premiere of Khatchaturian's ballet Spartacus and the Russian premiere of Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream. From 1956 on, he toured regularly with the Bolshoi ballet in many countries in Europe, Asia and America.

For many years, Gennady Rozhdestvensky also headed the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra and became the first Soviet conductor, a novelty at the time, ever to be appointed principal conductor of various foreign orchestras: the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London, Wiener Symphoniker, and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also conducted many of the world's greatest orchestras, including the Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and London Symphony Orchestra. Other orchestras he has worked with include the Yomiuri Nippon Orchestra, Konzerthausorchester in Berlin, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestra del Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Warsaw Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Danish National Symphony Orchestra. This season’s (2014-2015) highlights include collaborations with the Orchestre de Paris and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra.

Gennady Rozhdestvensky premiered many works of Soviet composers, including Edison Denisov's Le soleil des Incas (Sun of the Incas) (1964), as well as giving the Russian premiere of B. Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream and the Western premiere of Dmitri Shostakovich's Fourth Symphony at the 1962 Edinburgh Festival. In 2001 he conducted the world premiere of the original version of Sergei Prokofiev's opera The Gambler at the Bolshoi Theatre. Not long afterwards he resigned, citing desertion by singers, production problems and hostile coverage by the Moscow press. He has also participated in dozens of world premieres of new or newly found works, some of which were dedicated to him, with pieces by composers such as Prokofiev, D. Shostakovich, John Tavener, Alfred Schnittke, Rodion Shchedrin etc. In the 1970's, he headed the Moscow Chamber Opera. There he brought back to life D. Shostakovich's "lost" opera, The Nose, and conducted The Rake's Progress.

Gennady Rozhdestvensky also conducted an impressive number of performances in some of the most prestigious European theatres: 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 Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Der fliegende Holländer) among others.

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 1982 he created the new USSR Ministry of Culture Orchestra with which he gave hundreds of concerts in Russia and abroad and recorded over 200 works, among which, the complete symphonies of D. Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Alexander Glazunov, Anton Bruckner, Alfred Schnittke, and Arthur Honegger, and a large amount of works by E. Denisov and Sofia Gubaidulina. He also performed all the symphonies of Ralph Vaughan Williams in St. Petersburg in the late 1980's. Those have been released, by the Melodiya label, in a complete CD box set in April 2014.

Gennady Rozhdestvensky is considered a versatile conductor and a highly cultured musician with a supple stick technique. In moulding his interpretations, he gives a clear idea of the structural outlines and emotional content of a piece, combined with a performing style which melds logic, intuition and spontaneity. He has been praised for his efficient rehearsals which he keeps short, and is noted for his habit of walking around the stage while conducting and not using a podium, even at concerts.

For more than thirty years, Professor Gennady Rozhdestvensky has held the Chair of conducting at the Moscow Conservatoire. He regularly leads master-classes in various countries. In 2006, the first Gennady Rozhdestvensky International Competition for Conductors took place in Bulgaria.

Gennady 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. In 2011, he celebrated his 80th birthday together with the 60th anniversary of his conducting debut with a special evening at the Bolshoi Theatre. The distinguished French film maker Bruno Monsaingeon has recently devoted two of his films to Gennady Rozhdestvensky.

In 1969 he married the pianist Viktoria Postnikova.

Orchestra Tenures

1951-1961 Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra (conductor)
1961-1974 Symphony Orchestra of All-Union Radio and Television (Moscow)
1964-1970 Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra (principal conductor)
1974-1985 Chamber Theatre Orchestra
1974-1977 Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra (artistic director)
1978-1981 BBC Symphony Orchestra (chief conductor)
1980-1982 Wiener Symphoniker
1983-1991 USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra
1992-1995 Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra

Honours and Awards

Hero of Socialist Labour (18 October 1990) - for outstanding contributions to the development of Soviet music, and effective pedagogical activity
Order of Merit for the Fatherland;
2nd class (April 22, 2011) - for outstanding contribution to the developmeof national musical art, multi-year pedagogical and creative activity
3rd class (31 January 2007) - for outstanding contribution to the development of national musical culture, and many years of creative and educational activities
4th class (April 26, 2001) - for great contribution to the development of national musical art
Order of the Red Banner of Labour, twice (1981, ?)
Order of Lenin (1990)
Order of Cyril and Methodius (Bulgaria, 1972)
Officer of the Legion of Honour (France, 2003)
Order of the Rising Sun, 3rd class (Japan, 2002)
People's Artist of the RSFSR (1966)
People's Artist of the USSR (1976)
Lenin Prize (1970)
Russian Federation State Prize in Literature and Art in 1995 (May 27, 1996)
Honorary Member of the Royal Swedish Academy (1975)
Honorary Academician of the British Royal Academy of Music (1984)
Grand Prix of the company Chant du Mond
Diploma of the Academy Charles Cros in Paris (1969) - for the fulfillment of all of Prokofiev's symphonies
Honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire (2014)

“Few conductors do so little and achieve so much as Rozhdestvensky.” - Keith Powers, The Boston Herald

More Photos

Source: Rayfield Allied Website (Valid for use until September 1, 2015); Wikipedia Website (August 2014); Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997); Bits & pieces from other sources
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (January 2015)

Recordings of Bach’s Instrumental Works




Genady Rozhdestvensky


Concerto for harpsichord No. 5 BWV 1056 [w/ pianist Maria Grinberg]

Recordings of Arrangements/Transcriptions of Bach’s Works




Genady Rozhdestvensky


A. Berg: Violin Concerto ("To the memory of an angel") [w/ violinist Leonid Kogan]

Links to other Sites

Gennady Rozhdestvensky (Rayfield Allied)
Gennady Rozhdestvensky - Bio (Naxos)

Gennady Rozhdestvensky (Wikipedia)

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Last update: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 01:52