articles / Music History

SFS Music Directors Past and Present

SF Symphony Music Director Designate Esa Pekka Salonen | Photo by SF Symphony/Andrew Eccles

On Friday, January 18, Esa-Pekka Salonen will conduct the SF Symphony for the first time as Music Director Designate of the orchestra. He takes over officially in September of 2020, as Michael Tilson Thomas wraps up 25 great years. In a recent article, SF Chronicle Music Critic, Joshua Kosman offered an overview of the 11 music directors the symphony has had since its founding in 1911. From the very first, Henry Hadley, to a famous Frenchman, Pierre Monteux, to the turtlenecks and beads of Seiji Ozawa and our “Flying Dutchman”, Edo de Waart, to my guy HB, Herbert Blomstedt. “My guy” because I was the host of the SFS radio broadcasts during the Blomstedt tenure. I learned a ton during that period, and, dare I say it, so did the orchestra! Both Joshua Kosman and I remember the first time Michael Tilson Thomas conducted the Symphony as music director designate (who feels old?) and it was an amazing concert. Scheherazade paired with The Rite of Spring and a seemingly unending ovation when MTT walked out on stage. I’m anticipating a similar reaction to EPS this weekend at Davies, as he conducts music by Strauss, Sibelius, and the Icelandic woman composer, Anna Thorvaldsdottir. See you there, Josh!

See more at

Written by:
Dianne Nicolini
Dianne Nicolini
Published on 03.27.2019