After early violin studies at the Oberlin Conservatory, Zinman studied theory and composition at the University of Minnesota, earning his M.A. in 1963, and took up conducting at Tanglewood. He then worked in Maine with Pierre Monteux from 1958 to 1962, serving as his assistant from 1961 to 1964.
Zinman held the post of tweede dirigent (second conductor) of the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra from 1965 to 1977. He was the principal conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra from 1979 to 1982.
In the USA, Zinman was music director of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra from 1974 to 1985. With the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, he was principal guest conductor for two years before becoming the orchestra's music director in 1985. During his Baltimore tenure, he began to implement ideas from the historically informed performance movement in his interpretations of the Beethoven symphonies. At the end of his tenure as music director in 1998 he was named the orchestra's conductor laureate, but in protest at what he saw as the Baltimore orchestra's overly conservative programming in the years since his departure he gave up that title in 2001. In 1998, Zinman was the Music Director of the Ojai Music Festival alongside pianist Mitsuko Uchida. In 1998, he was appointed music director of the Aspen Music Festival and School, where he founded and directed its American Academy of Conducting until suddenly resigning in April 2010.
Zinman became music director of the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich in 1995. His innovative programming with that orchestra includes a series of late-night concerts, "Tonhalle Late", which combine classical music and a nightclub setting. His recordings for Arte Nova of the complete Beethoven symphonies were based on the new Jonathan Del Mar critical edition and was acclaimed by critics. He has subsequently recorded Beethoven overtures and concertos with the Tonhalle. He conducted the Tonhalle Orchestra in its first-ever appearance at The Proms in 2003. His current contract with the Tonhalle Orchestra is through 2015.
Zinman also conducted for the soundtrack of the 1993 film version of the New York City Ballet production of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker. His 1992 recording of Henryk Górecki’s Symphony no.3 with the London Sinfonietta was an international bestseller. In January 2006, he received the Theodore Thomas Award presented by the Conductors' Guild.
In fall 2009, he conducted the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich for an elaborate soundtrack, together with composer Diego Baldenweg and music producer Lionel Vincent Baldenweg, for the feature film 180° - AMOK (Source: Werbewoche), which was awarded "best film music 2010" at the Locarno International Film Festival.
- Slonimsky, Nicolas (1978). "Zinman, David". Baker's Biographical dictionary of musicians. (6th ed.). New York: Schirmer Books. p. 1949. ISBN 0-02-870240-9.
- Scott Cantrell (2004-05-07). "Preaching to the Unconverted". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
- Anthony Tommasini (2003-05-07). "Setting Out With Energy Along the Road Most Taken". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
- Kyle MacMillan (2007-07-25). "Learning to wield a mean baton". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2007-08-10.
- Susan Elliott (2010-04-11). "David Zinman quits Aspen Music Festival". Musical America. Retrieved 2010-04-10.
- Anne Midgette (2004-05-07). "Carnegie Program Shows The Conservative Side Of a New-Music Man". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
- Edward Greenfield (2005-01-14). "Beethoven: Complete Overtures, Zurich Tonhalle Orch/ Zinman". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
- Andrew Clements (2006-04-28). "Beethoven: Violin Concerto; Two Romances, Tetzlaff/ZTO/Zinman". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
- Andrew Clements (2006-09-22). "Beethoven: Piano Concerto No 5; Choral Fantasy (Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt), Bronfman/ Swiss Chamber Choir/ Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra/ Zinman". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
- Erica Jeal (2003-09-13). "Proms 70 and 71: Musiciens du Louvre; Tonhalle Orchestra (Royal Albert Hall, London)". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
- David Zinman official website
- David Zinman official Blog
- Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich official website
- David Zinman at Art of the States
- David Zinman at AllMusic
- David Zinman at Sony Classical
- Works by or about David Zinman in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- David Zinman collected news and commentary at The New York Times
Edo de Waart
|Music Director, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra