Leon Botstein

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Leon Botstein
CD1 039.jpg
President of Bard College
Incumbent
Assumed office
1975
Preceded by Reamer Kline
Personal details
Born December 14, 1946 (1946-12-14) (age 67)
Switzerland
Residence Annandale-on-Hudson, New York
Alma mater University of Chicago, Harvard University

Leon Botstein (born December 14, 1946 in Zürich, Switzerland) is a Swiss-born naturalized American conductor, scholar, and the President of Bard College.

Family[edit]

Botstein is the brother of biologist David Botstein and husband of art historian Barbara Haskell. Both of Botstein's parents were physicians.

Career[edit]

Botstein is the music director and principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra (ASO) and conductor laureate of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra (JSO), where he served as music director and principal conductor from 2003-2010. He is also the founder and co-Artistic Director of the Bard Music Festival. He is a member of the Board of Directors of The After-School Corporation,[1] a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding educational opportunities for all students. He also serves as the Board Chairman of the Central European University.

Botstein is a leading advocate of progressive education. He is the author of Jefferson’s Children: Education and the Promise of American Culture and Judentum und Modernitaet and has published widely on music, education, history, and culture. He graduated at age 16 from the High School of Music and Art in New York, and earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from Harvard University in music history. He credits David Landes and Harold Farberman as his mentors.

Botstein became the youngest (or possibly second youngest) college president in U.S. history at age 23, serving from 1970 to 1975 at the now-defunct Franconia College, after which he was named president of Bard College.

As music director of the American Symphony Orchestra, Botstein emerged as a significant proponent of "thematic programming," which attempts to assemble concert programs having a common theme grounded in literature, music history, or art. He also focused the ASO's programming on the performance of infrequently-performed works by major composers and the best examples of works by lesser-known composers, with a particular emphasis on U.S. premiere performances, many of which have been recorded by the ASO for the first time.[2] In addition to the orchestra's main concert series at Carnegie Hall, Botstein inaugurated the Bard Music Festival with the participation of the ASO, a summer series which focuses on one composer each summer for an intensive series of concerts, lectures, and panel discussions. He also presents a series called "Classics Declassified," devoting each program to a piece from the standard orchestral repertory. Botstein lectures about the piece for about an hour, using the orchestra to provide illustrations for his talk, then performs the entire piece, then opens the floor to questions from the audience directed at him and at members of the orchestra. This series, originally presented at Columbia University's Miller Theater, proved so popular that it was moved to Symphony Space for the 2007–2008 season. He also inaugurated an important series of recordings of neglected masterpieces with the Telarc label, using the ASO and a variety of European orchestras. In addition to his work with the ASO and JSO, Botstein has performed as a guest conductor with, among many others, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, New York City Opera, Los Angeles Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, and NDR Symphony Orchestra. The Los Angeles Times called 2013’s Los Angeles Philharmonic performance under Botstein “the all-around most compelling performance of anything I’ve heard all summer at the Bowl.”[3] In fall 2013, Botstein also conducted the Sinfónica Juvenil de Caracas in Venezuela and Japan, making him the first non-Venezuelan conductor invited by El Sistema to conduct on a tour.[4] Many live recordings of his performances, including the prestigious operas performed every summer during the Bard SummerScape festival, are widely available on compact disc and on Internet sites such as iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify.

Botstein’s many books, essays, and articles on music and culture have earned him a reputation as a leading musicologist. His essays in the Princeton University Press series[5] of books devoted to composers featured during the annual Bard Music Festival exemplify his efforts to address the complex social, political, and artistic influences and context of his subject. Of his recent essay in this series, on Jean Sibelius, the Times Literary Supplement wrote that that Sibelius’s “critical reputation is epitomized by Leon Botstein.”[6] He has also written extensively about music and culture in 19th-century Vienna, Jewish European culture, and modernism. His book Judentum und Modernität: Essays zur Rolle der Juden in der deutschen und österreichischen Kultur, 1848–1938 was written in German and has been translated into Russian.

Botstein’s unique position as a leading music scholar, performer, and founder and coartistic director of the Bard Music Festival have enabled him to have an extraordinary impact on both music scholarship and performance. As the Wall Street Journal’s Barrymore Laurence Scherer observes, “the Bard Music Festival…no longer needs an introduction. Under the provocative guidance of the conductor-scholar Leon Botstein, it has long been one of the most intellectually stimulating of all American summer festivals and frequently is one of the most musically satisfying. Each year, through discussions by major scholars and illustrative concerts often programmed to overflowing, Bard audiences have investigated the oeuvre of a major composer in the context of the society, politics, literature, art and music of his times.”[7]

Awards[edit]

2014 - Caroline P. and Charles W. Ireland Distinguished Visiting Scholar Prize, University of Alabama at Birmingham[8]

2013 - Botstein was awarded The Foundation for Jewish Culture's Jewish Cultural Achievement Award.

2013 - Awarded the Bruckner Society of America's Kilenyi Medal of Honor.[9]

2012 - Awarded the University of Chicago Alumni Medal.

2012 - Leonard Bernstein Award for the Elevation of Music in Society.

2010 - Elected to the American Philosophical Society, the oldest learned society in the United States.

2009 - Awarded a Carnegie Academic Leadership Award. The Carnegie Corporation annually chooses exceptional leaders of American higher education who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in the realms of curricular innovation, reform of K-12 education and the promotion of strong links between their institution and their local communities.

2006 - Botstein's recording of Popov's Symphony No. 1 and Shostakovich's Theme and Variations with the London Symphony Orchestra was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Orchestral Performance.

2003 - Received the Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.[10]

2001 - Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art

1996 - Received the Harvard Centennial Medal, an honor given by the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences to recipients of graduate degrees from the School for their "contributions to society".

1995 - National Arts Club Gold Medal.

Bard College[edit]

Botstein became Bard College's 14th and current president in 1975. Botstein, who is also Bard's Leon Levy Professor in the Arts and Humanities, has been a pioneer in linking the liberal arts and higher education to public secondary schools. In 1979, Botstein oversaw Bard's acquisition of Bard College at Simon's Rock, the oldest early college entrance program and the only accredited four-year early college to date. Along with administrators from Simon's Rock, he was instrumental in the founding of New York City's Bard High School Early College in 2001. During Botstein’s 38-year tenure, one of the longest in the nation, Bard has established eight graduate schools, the Bard College Conservatory of Music, and the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College.

Botstein has greatly extended Bard’s reach internationally, leading the creation of new programs on several continents. In partnership with Saint Petersburg State University, Bard established in 1997 the first liberal arts college program in Russia, Smolny College, which offers dual degrees from Saint Petersburg State University and Bard. In 1998, the Institute for International Liberal Education (IILE)] [11] was formed at Bard to advance the theory and practice of international liberal arts education. Bard’s other international programs include the Al-Quds Bard Partnership,[12] a collaboration in Jerusalem between Bard College and Al-Quds University that was established in 2008 to improve the Palestinian education system; the International Human Rights Exchange (IHRE);[13] the Program in International Education (PIE); and joint programs with American University of Central Asia and Central European University.

Botstein has also led Bard to become a regional and national leader in art and culture.[14] In 1990, Bard opened the Center for Curatorial Studies and Art in Contemporary Culture, which now includes the Hessel Museum of Art. In 2003, the college opened the Frank Gehry-designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, which houses two theaters, as well as dance and theater studios that provide rehearsal space for undergraduates. The Fisher Center is the home of the Bard Music Festival as well as Bard SummerScape, an annual festival of music, film, dance, and drama.

In February 2009, Botstein was accused by Joel Kovel of terminating Kovel from his position as professor at Bard in retaliation for the latter's political views, an accusation which Botstein denied.[15][16]

Works[edit]

Botstein's written work includes Jefferson's Children: Education and the Promise of American Culture, in which he argues that high school-level education after the tenth grade should be abolished in favor of a national early college system, as well as several other books in the fields of musicology and education. He is editor of The Musical Quarterly and a frequent contributor to periodicals focusing on music and education.

Selected public appearances[edit]

Books[edit]

Selected articles, essays, and chapters[edit]

  • (2014) "The SAT is Part Hoax, Part Fraud". TIME 183 (11): 17. March 24, 2014. 
  • (2014) "How an Anti-Semitic Composer Created 'Kol Nidre' and 'Moses'". The Jewish Daily Forward. March 24, 2014. [23]
  • (2013) "The Marginalization of Music: The American Example". The Musical Quarterly 96 (2): 169–77. doi:10.1093/musqtl/gdt020. 
  • (2013) Botstein, Leon. "The Precision of Poetry and the Exactness of Pure Science: Nabokov, Stravinsky, and the Reader as Listener". In Levitz, Tamara. Igor Stravinsky and His World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691159874. 
  • (2013) "Words and Music: The Legacy of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (1925-2012)". The Musical Quarterly 96 (1): 1–13. doi:10.1093/musqtl/gdt008]. 
  • (2012) Botstein, Leon. "A Grand and Glorious Noise: Circus Music in America". In Ames, Kenneth. The Circus and the City. New York: Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture. pp. 256–304. ISBN 978-0300187472. 
  • (2012) Botstein, Leon. "Beyond the Conceits of the Avant-Garde: Saint-Saëns, Romain Rolland, and the Musical Culture of the Nineteenth Century". In Passler, Jann. Camille Saint-Saëns and His World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. pp. 370–404. ISBN 9780691155555. 
  • (2011) "Richard Wagner at Two Hundred". The Musical Quarterly 95 (2-3): 195–206. doi:10.1093/musqtl/gds024. 
  • (2011) "The Jewish Question in Music". The Musical Quarterly 94 (4): 439–53. doi:10.1093/musqtl/gdr023. 
  • (2011) Botstein, Leon. "Old Masters: Jean Sibelius and Richard Strauss in the Twentieth Century". In Grimley, Daniel. Jean Sibelius and His World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. pp. 256–304. ISBN 978-0-691-15281-3. 
  • (2011) Botstein, Leon. "The Eye of the Needle: Music as History after the Age of Recording". In Fulcher, Jane. The Oxford Handbook to the New Cultural History of Music. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 256–304. ISBN 0-19-534186-4. 
  • (2010) Botstein, Leon. "Alban Berg and the Memory of Modernism". In Hailey, Christopher. Alban Berg and His World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. pp. 299–343. ISBN 978-0-691-14856-4. 
  • (2010) "The High School Sinkhole". New York Times. February 10, 2010. 
  • (2010) "Max Weber and Music History". The Musical Quarterly 93 (2): 183–191. doi:10.1093/musqtl/gdq012. 
  • (2010) "Why Mahler?". Wall Street Journal. October 9, 2010. 
  • (2009) "For the Love of Learning". The New Republic. March 2, 2009. 
  • (2009) Botstein, Leon. "German Jews and Wagner". In Grey, Thomas. Richard Wagner and His World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. pp. 151–197. ISBN 978-0-691-14366-8. 
  • (2009) "Mendelssohn as Jew: Revisiting Controversy on the Occasion of the Composer's 200th Birthday". The Musical Quarterly 92 (1-2): 1–8. doi:10.1093/musqtl/gdp015. 
  • (2009) "Recovery Depends on School Reform". New York Times. February 2, 2009. 
  • (2008) Botstein, Leon. "Beyond Death and Evil: Prokofiev’s Spirituality and Christian Science". In Morrison, Simon. Sergey Prokofiev and His World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. pp. 530–561. ISBN 978-0-691-13895-4. 
  • (2008) "The Unsung Success of Live Classical Music". Wall Street Journal. October 3, 2008. 
  • (2007) "Music in Times of Economic Distress". The Musical Quarterly 90 (2): 167–175. doi:10.1093/musqtl/gdn023. 
  • (2007) Botstein, Leon. "Transcending the Enigmas of Biography". In Adams, Byron. Edward Elgar and His World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. pp. 365–406. ISBN 978-0-691-13446-8. 

Recordings[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "tascorp.org". tascorp.org. 2012-06-15. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  2. ^ "ASO". Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  3. ^ Swed, Mark (August 28, 2013). "Music review: Botstein has last laugh with L.A. Phil at the Bowl". Los Angeles Times. 
  4. ^ http://www.venezuelasinfonica.com/eventos/oportunidad-unica-la-sinfonica-juvenil-de-caracas-dirigida-por-leon-botstein.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ "Princeton University Press Books in The Bard Music Festival". Press.princeton.edu. 2012-04-19. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  6. ^ Matthews, David (January 27, 2012). "Refuge in the Forest". Times Literary Supplement. 
  7. ^ Scherer, Barrymore (August 5, 2009). "Undeniable Influence". Wall Street Journal. 
  8. ^ http://www.uab.edu/news/experiencing-the-arts/item/4225-uab-presents-leon-botstein-2014-ireland-distinguished-visiting-scholar-on-march-13.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ "www.abruckner.com". Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  10. ^ "artsandletters.org". artsandletters.org. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  11. ^ "iile.bard.edu". iile.bard.edu. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  12. ^ a b "alqudsbard.org". alqudsbard.org. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  13. ^ "ihre.org". ihre.org. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  14. ^ "Undeniable Influence". The Wall Street Journal. August 5, 2009. 
  15. ^ "Anti-Israel Prof Loses Post at Bard". Inside Higher Ed. February 19, 2009. 
  16. ^ "Statement of Joel Kovel Regarding His Termination from Bard College publisher=Joelkovel.org". 
  17. ^ http://zeneakademia.hu/classic/-/program/az-arnyek-volgyeben-jarva-en-20140511-1900.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ "Watch funny exclusive videos and show clips". Comedy Central. Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
  19. ^ "Leon Botstein - The Colbert Report - 2007-04-06 - Video Clip | Comedy Central". Colbertnation.com. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  20. ^ "Leon Botstein - The Colbert Report - 2010-05-10 - Video Clip | Comedy Central". Colbertnation.com. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  21. ^ "A conversation about Middle Eastern education with Leon Botstein and Sari Nusseibeh". Charlie Rose. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  22. ^ "BBC Press Release". Bbc.co.uk. 2007-11-11. Retrieved 2011-12-09. 
  23. ^ http://forward.com/articles/194853/how-an-anti-semitic-composer-created-kol-nidre-and/.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

Additional sources[edit]

External links[edit]