Benjamin Zander at TED2009
|Occupations||composer, music director, arranger|
Benjamin Zander was born in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, England on March 9, 1939. His parents had emigrated from Berlin in 1937 to escape the Nazis, and raise their four children; Michael, Luke, Angelica, and Benjamin. Benjamin Zander started to compose music at the age of nine. Several of his compositions came to the attention of composer Benjamin Britten, who invited the Zander family to spend three summers in Aldeburgh, England the beautiful seaside village in Suffolk where he lived. Benjamin Zander took lessons with Benjamin Britten and became a student of theory of Britten’s amanuensis and assistant, Imogen Holst, daughter of composer Gustav Holst.
Benjamin’s main instrument was the cello. He began studying at the age of ten and became the youngest member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain at the age of twelve. He went as a boarder to Uppingham, one of England’s leading public schools, as a music scholar at the age of thirteen and then to St. Paul’s School in London so he could continue his cello studies with Herbert Withers. At the age of fifteen Benjamin became a student of the great Spanish cello virtuoso Gaspar Cassadó and moved to Florence and Siena, Italy for the next three years. He completed his cello studies at the State Conservatoire in Cologne, Germany where he also served as an assistant to Cassadó.
After living abroad for five years Benjamin returned to England and completed his A levels and entered University College London for a degree program in English literature, winning the University-wide English Literature Essay Prize. During his period of study at University he performed regularly as a professional cellist giving recitals and chamber music concerts with the King-Zander-Arieli Trio and teaching at the Yehudi Menuhin School for gifted children.
In 1965 he won a Harkness International Fellowship and traveled to the United States for graduate work at Brandeis University, Harvard and with Leonard Shure and Ernst Oster in New York.
Benjamin and Patricia Zander were married in 1966 and their daughter Jessica was born a few years later. Jessica and her husband David Tomaszewski have two daughters, Maya, born in April 2001 and Vivian, born in April 2003.
Benjamin and Rosamund Stone Zander have been married since 1981. They work closely together on many projects and live separately in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Rosamund’s children, Alexandra and Evan Bageris also live in Massachusetts.
Zander and the NEC
Controversially Zander was fired from the New England Conservatory in January 2012, where for 45 years he had conducted the youth orchestra. He was accused of hiring a videographer (who had been previously employed by the New England Conservatory for two years) to record concerts and who had (with Zander's knowledge) previously served a prison sentence for sexual assault of a minor. In July 2012 the New England Conservatory acknowledged Zander’s significant contributions to the school over 45 years and conferred upon him the title of Faculty Emeritus of the New England Conservatory and Preparatory School.
Benjamin Zander is now the Conductor and Music Director of the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, a brand new youth orchestra in Boston composed of both high school and college age students. The BPYO rehearses at The Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology in Boston's South End. Their premier performance took place in Symphony Hall on November 25, 2012. On the program was Strauss' Ein Heldenleben, Beethoven's Egmont Overture, and Elgar's Cello Concerto with Alisa Weilerstein as soloist. BPYO's first international tour took place the summer of 2013 as the entire orchestra visited The Netherlands to play Mahler's Second Symphony in the Concertgebouw.
- Interview with Charlie Rose
- Interview with Bruce Sellery
- WGBH Public Television Boston
- TED Talk: Classical music with shining eyes
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