The Russian conductor, Yuri [Yurji] Simonov, studied at the Leningrad Conservatoire with Rabinovich and assisted Mravinsky at the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. His debut was in 1953 with the Saratov Music School Orchestra (Mozart’s Symphony No. 40) and in 1963 at the Leningrad Conservatory conducting Dargomizhsky's The Mermaid.
Following success in the Santa Cecilia Conductors' Competition in Rome in 1968, Yuri Simonov was invited to make his debut at the Bolshoi Opera (Aida) in 1969, and was almost immediately appointed Chief Conductor: the youngest in history and, with his appointment ending only in 1985, also the longest serving. Highlights of his period with the Bolshoi Opera were the re-introduction of Wagner to the repertoire after a forty year absence and several memorable tours which he led to Paris, Japan, Vienna, New York, Milan and Washington. During this time, he conducted the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra and Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO), USSR State and Moscow Radio Orchestras and Philharmonic Orchestras of Kiev, Minsk and Riga on a regular basis, including foreign tours.
In 1982 Yuri Simonov made his debut with a Western operatic company, conducting Eugene Onegin at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and also made his British concert debut conducting three concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra. Since then, he has given numerous further concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra in London and on tour, and has conducted a Tchaikovsky cycle with them at the Barbican Hall. In October 1986, he opened the season at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, conducting La traviata. There followed debuts with the Philharmonia Orchestra with whom he also toured to Belgium, Hong Kong and Australia, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (in London and Paris), and London Philharmonic Orchestra. Further debuts followed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Opera (Don Carlo with Plácido Domingo), San Francisco Opera (Khovanshchina), Florence Opera (with Salome) Genoa (Così fan tutte) and made concert tours of Greece, Spain, Mexico, France and England and conducted further Wagner performances (Tannhäuser, Tristan und Isolde and Parsifal) in Budapest.
In 1991-1992 season, Yuri Simonov toured Europe with both the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie and, for the first time in their history, the Buenos Aires Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1992-1993 season he made his debut with the Orchestra of the Teatro Comunale in Bologna, Stuttgarter Philharmoniker, NHK Symphony in Japan, Hamburg State Opera (Don Carlo), Dallas Opera (Eugene Onegin), Belgian National Orchestra, and the Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper, Berlin. He returned to Budapest to conduct Der Fliegende Holländer for the first time and made his debut at the Opera Bastille with Pique Dame. He also conducted the Verdi Requiem in a special memorial performance at Vaison la Romaine in France. In 1993-1994 season, he conducted La Forza del Destino for the first time, in Marseille, recorded with the Royal Philharmonic and returned to seven western European countries for concerts before making his debut with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. He also conducted the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and English Northern Philharmonia orchestras.
In January 1994, Yuri Simonov became Musical Director of the Belgian National Orchestra, Brussels, the former orchestra of the great Belgian conductor André Cluytens. At the end of August 1994 he conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Tanglewood Festival. The season 1994-1995's reappearances included a month in Japan with the NHK Symphony Orchestra, Die Walküre in Budapest and concerts with the Hungarian State Orchestra, recordings with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for Tring and concerts with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. 1995-1996 season included reappearances with the Philharmonia Orchestra, further Tring recordings with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hungarian State Orchestra, a new production of Siegfried in Budapest and master-classes with young conductors at Miskolc in Hungary as well as the full complement of concerts with the Belgian National Orchestra. In 1996-1997 he appeared in the UK in concerts with the Philharmonia Orchestra and made his debut at the Royal Albert Hall conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the first of their new concert season there, made his Canadian debut conducting the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and led the first tour of the UK by the Belgian National Orchestra.
At the beginning of 1997-1998 season, Yuri Simonov conducted five concerts in Amsterdam, Toulouse and Paris with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and toured his own orchestra to Austria, Switzerland and Germany. He also returned to the Czech Republic after many years appearing at the Prague Autumn Festival with the Brno State Philharmonic, conducted a new production of Götterdämmerung in Budapest and returned to the NHK Tokyo. In 1998 he was invited to become Musical Director of the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra; he took up the position at the beginning of the 1998/9 season. Since then he has worked with them extensively, not only in Russia but also on tours to the USA, the UK, Germany, Spain and the Far East. He also toured Japan with the NHK Orchestra in 2002.
Yuri Simonov has also been the Music Director of the "Liszt-Wagner" Orchestra (Budapest) since 2001 and in 2003 began to give annual master-classes for young conductors in Budapest. In addition, Yuri Simonov’s fruitful contacts with other orchestras continue. He has visited Israel several times to conduct the Israel Symphony Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and has also frequently conducted the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. In Budapest he has conducted Der Ring des Nibelungen in its entirety, Pique Dame, and, in 2004, Lohengrin.
In 2003-2004 season, Yuri Simonov made his debuts with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and the Warsaw Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, and toured Japan with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2004-2005 he made his debuts with the Beethoven Orchester Bonn and Budapest Festival Orchestra and led the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra on tours to the USA, Japan and the Czech Republic. During 2005-2006 he toured Spain, the UK and Korea and conducted a new production of Die Nurnbergen Meistersinger in the Hungarian Opera House, Budapest. In 2006-2007 he led the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra on tours to Japan and Germany, and conducted a five-performance-cycle of Queen of Spades with Budapest Opera. He also conducted the opening three concerts with the MPO at 35th Hong Kong Festival and led the 9th International Master Course for conductors in Budapest.
2007-2008 season included tours of Russia and two of Japan with the MPO, his debut with the Het Brabant Orkest (Eindhoven) and the 10th International Master Course for conductors in Budapest. 2008-2009 Yuri Simonov was marked by a jubilee - “Ten years together”, dedicated to ten years collaboration with MPO. Special for-concert-serial included the most famous musical pearls as well as world famous soloists. Also, there were Spain and Japan tours. In the 2009-2010 season there were Russian and Korean tours as well as guest appearances to the orchestras of Riga, Wuppertal and Eindhoven. In 2010 Simonov and the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra won the "Conductor and Orchestra" category of the Russian national "Music Review".
The main highlight of year 2011 was Maestro Yuri Simonov’s 70th birthday. It started being celebrated with New Year concerts in China; continued with concerts in Moscow and Orenburg in March; on tour in Spain and Germany in April; in Ukraine and Romania in May. In addition, he has performed special three-concert-series in Moscow to appeal to young audiences, using a wealth of music and literature material but within themes from the tales of The Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin and Cinderella. The jubilee tours ontinued in UK and South Korea throughout 2011-2012 season. Beside that, on September 15 there was one more jubilee concert - this time in occasion of the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra itself turning 60 years. The festive season of both the Orchestra and Maestro was supported by great soloists: B. Berezovsky, N. Lugansky, D. Matsuev, V. Ovchinnikov, Maxim Vengerov, N. Boriso-Glebsky, S. Roldugin.
Yuri Simonov was also a member of the jury of conducting competitions in Florence, Tokyo and Budapest. He will lead the jury of the 1st All-Russian conductor’s competition in Moscow in December 2011. At present he is writing a book about conducting.
Yuri Simonov has recorded with the Bolshoi company for Melodiya, for Collins Classics with the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for Tring and with the Berliner Philharmoniker for EMI.
Yuri Simonov has received many awards for his outstanding contribution to music including: Honored Artist of the Russian Federation (1971), People's Artist of the Russian Federation (1976), Lenin's Komsomol Prize (1977), People's Artist of the USSR (1981), Professor of the Moscow Conservatoire (1985), Order for Merits in Culture for the Polish Republic (1988), Russian Order of Honour, (2001), Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary: Officer’s Cross (2001), Order of the Star: Commander (Romania, 2003). In March 2011 he was decorated with the Russian Order “For the services to the Fatherland”.