Zander in 2009
March 9, 1939 |
Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, England
|Occupation(s)||Conductor, composer, music director, arranger|
Benjamin Zander (born March 9, 1939 in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, England) is an English conductor, currently musical director of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.
Benjamin Zander was born in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, England. 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 1967, Zander joined the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music and remained on the faculty until 2012 (see below). He founded the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra in 1979 and has been its music director ever since. The Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, for musicians aged 12-21, was founded in 2012.
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 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Rosamund’s children, Alexandra and Evan Bageris also live in Massachusetts.
Zander and the NEC
In July 2012 the New England Conservatory and Preparatory School conferred on him the title of Faculty Emeritus, acknowledging his significant contributions to the school over 45 years. This followed him being fired in January 2012 for negligence amid allegations he had hired a videographer to record concerts, who had (with Zander's knowledge) previously served a prison sentence for sexual assault of a minor. It emerged that it was not Zander who originally hired the videographer but the opera department. The videographer was never accused of any wrongdoing while at the 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 premiere 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.
- "After discord, harmonious encore for Benjamin Zander" Geoff Edgers, "Boston Globe" and boston.com, November 14, 2012
- "'This is a nightmare for all of us,'" Geoff Edgers, [Boston Globe and boston.com, February 5, 2012.
- Interview with Charlie Rose
- on YouTube
- on YouTube
- TED Talk: "The transformative power of classical music" (TED2008)
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