Andris Nelsons

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Andris Nelsons (born 18 November 1978) is a Latvian conductor. He has been the Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra since the 2008-2009 season, and is the music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, for the 2014-2015 season.

Early life[edit]

Nelsons was born in Riga. His mother founded the first early music ensemble in Latvia, and his father was a choral conductor, cellist, and teacher.[1] At age five, his mother and stepfather (a choir conductor) took him to a performance of Wagner's Tannhäuser, which Nelsons refers to as a profoundly formative experience: " had a hypnotic effect on me. I was overwhelmed by the music. I cried when Tannhäuser died. I still think this was the biggest thing that happened in my childhood."[2]

As a youth, Nelsons studied piano, and took up the trumpet at age 12.[2] He also sang bass-baritone, with a special interest in early music, in his mother's ensemble.[3] He studied for one summer at the Dartington International Summer School with Evelyn Tubb. He served as a trumpeter with the orchestra of the Latvian National Opera.[4]

Conducting career[edit]

Nelsons studied conducting with Alexander Titov in Saint Petersburg, Russia and participated in conducting master classes with Neeme Järvi and Jorma Panula. He came to the attention of Mariss Jansons when he emergency-substituted with the Oslo Philharmonic in their trumpet section during an orchestra tour.[4] Nelsons counts Jansons as a mentor, and has been a conducting student with him since 2002.[5]

In 2003, Nelsons became principal conductor of the Latvian National Opera. He concluded his tenure there after four years in 2007.[6] In 2006, Nelsons became chief conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie of Herford, Germany, a post he held until the end of the 2008/2009 season. His first conducting appearance at the Metropolitan Opera was in October 2009 a production of Turandot.[7] In July 2010, Nelsons made his debut at the Bayreuth Festival, conducting a new production of Wagner's Lohengrin at the opening performance of the festival.[8]

In the UK, Nelsons' early work included studio concerts with the BBC Philharmonic in Manchester, and his first BBC Philharmonic concert at the Bridgewater Hall was in November 2007.[9] In October 2007, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) named Nelsons as its 12th principal conductor and music director, effective with the 2008–2009 season, with an initial contract for 3 years. The appointment was unusual in that Nelsons had conducted the CBSO only in a private concert and in a recording session, without a public concert engagement, prior to being named to the post.[5] His first public conducting appearance with the CBSO was on 11 November 2007 in a matinee concert,[10] and his first subscription concert appearance with the CBSO was in March 2008.[11] In July 2009, Nelsons extended his CBSO contract for an additional 3 years, through the 2013–2014 season.[12] In August 2012, the CBSO announced the extension of his CBSO contract formally through the 2014-2015 season, and then for subsequent seasons on the basis of an annual rolling renewal.[13][14] In October 2013, the CBSO announced the conclusion of Nelsons' tenure as music director after the conclusion of the 2014-2015 season.[15][16]

In the USA, Nelsons made his first guest-conducting appearance with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) in March 2011, as an emergency substitute for James Levine at Carnegie Hall.[17] He subsequently guest-conducted the BSO at the Tanglewood Music Festival in July 2012,[18] and made his first appearance with the BSO at Symphony Hall, Boston in January 2013. In May 2013, the BSO named Nelsons as its 15th music director, effective with the 2014-2015 season. His initial contract is for 5 years, with 8–10 weeks of scheduled appearances in the first year of the contract, and 12 weeks in subsequent years. Nelsons has the title of Music Director Designate for the 2013-2014 season.[19][20]

With the CBSO, Nelsons has recorded music of Peter Tchaikovsky,[21][22] Richard Strauss,[23] and Igor Stravinsky[24] for the Orfeo label. Separately from the CBSO, Nelsons has also recorded for the BR-Klassik label.[25]

Personal life[edit]

Nelsons is married to the Latvian soprano Kristīne Opolais. They met during Nelsons' tenure at Latvian National Opera, when she was a member of the Latvian National Opera chorus, and later became a solo singer with the company.[26] The couple married in 2011.[27] Their daughter, Adriana Anna, was born on 28 December 2011.


  1. ^ Mark Kanny (2008-10-08). "Conductor savors ties with Jansons". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  2. ^ a b Richard Morrison (2009-12-18). "Andris Nelsons's rapid rise to the top". The Times. Retrieved 2009-12-25. 
  3. ^ Geoffrey Norris (2008-09-13). "Andris Nelsons: 'I've wanted to conduct since I was five'". Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  4. ^ a b Terry Grimley (2007-10-08). "Andris takes the CBSO helm". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 2007-12-01. 
  5. ^ a b Charlotte Higgins (2007-10-09). "Young Latvian steps up to lead City of Birmingham orchestra". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-12-01. 
  6. ^ Geoffrey Norris (2007-11-26). "The young ones seize the baton". Telegraph. Retrieved 2007-12-01. 
  7. ^ Anthony Tommasini (2009-10-29). "He's Come to Melt the Heart of an Ice Princess". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-09-28. 
  8. ^ George Loomis (2010-04-21). "Young Conductor at the Forefront of His Field". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-09-28. 
  9. ^ Tim Ashley (2007-11-13). "BBCPO/Nelsons". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-12-01. 
  10. ^ Rian Evans (2007-11-13). "CBSO/Nelsons". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-12-01. 
  11. ^ Andrew Clements (2008-03-07). "CBSO/Nelsons, Symphony Hall, Birmingham". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-07-12. 
  12. ^ Terry Grimley (2009-07-24). "CBSO's Andris Nelsons to stay for three more years after record season". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  13. ^ "Andris Nelsons renews contract with City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra" (PDF) (Press release). City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. 16 August 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-18. 
  14. ^ Ben Hurst (2012-08-24). "Andris Nelsons extends contract with CBSO". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 2013-10-03. 
  15. ^ "The search begins for the new Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra" (PDF) (Press release). City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. 2 October 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-03. 
  16. ^ Graeme Brown (2013-10-02). "CBSO music director Andris Nelsons to stand down at end of contract". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 2013-10-03. 
  17. ^ James R. Oestreich (2011-03-19). "A Fresh Face Confronts a Seasoned Mahler". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-05-19. 
  18. ^ James R. Oestreich (2012-07-16). "Tanglewood Tries Out a New Face: Andris Nelsons Conducts Boston Symphony at Tanglewood". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-05-19. 
  19. ^ "Boston Symphony Orchestra Appoints Andris Nelsons As Its 15th Music Director Since Its Founding in 1881" (Press release). Boston Symphony Orchestra. 16 May 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-19. 
  20. ^ Geoff Edgers (2013-05-16). "Andris Nelsons named new music director of BSO". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2013-05-16. 
  21. ^ Christopher Morley (2009-06-24). "First love rekindled for Andris Nelsons and CBSO". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 2009-12-25. 
  22. ^ Tim Ashley (2012-02-09). "Tchaikovsky: Francesca da Rimini; Symphony No 4". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-08-18. 
  23. ^ Andrew Clements (2010-02-05). "Strauss: Ein Heldenleben; Rosenkavalier Suite, City of Birmingham SO, Nelsons". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-07-05. 
  24. ^ Tim Ashley (2010-05-13). "Stravinsky: The Firebird; Symphony of Psalms". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-07-05. 
  25. ^ Andrew Clements (2013-04-04). "Antonín Dvořák: Symphony No 9; A Hero's Song – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-04-04. 
  26. ^ Christopher Morley (2008-10-23). "Kristine Opolais takes double role in La bohème". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  27. ^ Christopher Morley (2011-06-17). "Orchestral manoeuvres for Andris Nelsons". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Gintaras Rinkevičius
Music Director, Latvian National Opera
Succeeded by
Modestas Pitrėnas
Preceded by
Toshiyuki Kamioka
Chief Conductor, Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie
Succeeded by
Eugene Tzigane