In Memoriam: Yuri Temirkanov (10 December 1938 – 2 November 2023)

2 Nov 2023

IMG Artists is deeply saddened by the passing of Maestro Yuri Temirkanov. We were honoured to represent the great conductor, and we send our profound sympathies to his family, friends, and colleagues throughout the world. He has achieved immortality through his countless gifts to classical music; he will be greatly missed.

His managers Nicholas Mathias and Thomas Walton share their reflections on the great man.

“The news of the passing of Maestro Yuri Temirkanov has been received with great sadness by all who knew him. Maestro Temirkanov was a true legend and one of the really great conductors of his generation and IMG Artists had the privilege of representing him for over 30 years. He will be greatly missed by many people around the world but thankfully his legacy will live on through his many outstanding recordings and performances. RIP Maestro.” – Nicholas Mathias and Thomas Walton

Born in the Caucasus city of Nal’chik, Yuri Temirkanov began his musical studies at the age of nine. When he was thirteen, he attended the Leningrad School for Talented Children where he continued his studies in violin and viola. Upon graduation, he attended the Leningrad Conservatory where he completed his studies in viola and later returned to study conducting, graduating in 1965. After winning the prestigious All-Soviet National Conducting Competition in 1966, Yuri Temirkanov was invited by Kirill Kondrashin to tour Europe and the United States with legendary violinist David Oistrakh and the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra.

He made his debut with the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra (formerly the Leningrad Philharmonic) in early 1967 and was then invited to join the orchestra as Assistant Conductor to Yevgeny Mravinsky. In 1968, he was appointed Principal Conductor of the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra where he remained until his appointment as Music Director of the Kirov Opera and Ballet (now the Mariinsky Theatre) in 1976. He remained in this position until 1988 and his productions of Eugene Onegin and Queen of Spades have become legendary in the theatre’s history.

After making his London debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1977, he was appointed Principal Guest Conductor, and then in 1992 named Principal Conductor, a position he held until 1998. From 1992 to 1997 he was also the Principal Guest Conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra and from 1998 to 2008 Principal Guest Conductor of the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra. A regular visitor to the USA, he conducts the major orchestras around the world. He was the Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra from 2000 till 2006; Principal Guest Conductor of the Bolshoi Theatre until 2009; Music Director of Teatro Regio di Parma from 2010 – 2012; and, from 1988, the long-term Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra.

His numerous recordings include collaborations with the St Petersburg Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestras, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with whom he recorded the complete Stravinsky ballets and Tchaikovsky symphonies.

Maestro Temirkanov has received many distinguished awards in Russia. He has been awarded the Order “For Merit for the Country” of all the four degrees (1998, 2003, 2008, 2013). In 2003 and 2007, he received the Abbiati Prize for Best Conductor, and in 2003 was named Conductor of the Year in Italy. Recently, he was made an Honorary Academician of Santa Cecilia. In 2012 he was awarded “The Commander of the Order of the Star of Italy”, in 2014 the Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli Prize, and in 2015 the “Order of the Rising Sun” (Japan) and “Una vita nella musica” Prize (Italy). In November 2015, Yuri Temirkanov was made the Honorary Conductor of the Academia Santa Cecilia Choir and Orchestra.

Photo: Sasha Gusov