Vasily Petrenko

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Vasily Petrenko

Vasily Eduardovich Petrenko (Russian: Васи́лий Эдуа́рдович Петре́нко; born 7 July 1976) is a Russian-British conductor. He is currently chief conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, and the principal conductor of the European Union Youth Orchestra.


Petrenko was born in Leningrad, USSR. He attended the Capella Boys Music School and the St Petersburg Conservatoire.[1] Petrenko studied conducting principally under Ravil Martynov,[2][3] also learning from Mariss Jansons, Yuri Temirkanov, Esa-Pekka Salonen, George Benjamin and Roberto Carnevale.[4] He was resident conductor at the St. Petersburg Opera and Ballet Theatre from 1994 to 1997. He has served as chief conductor of the State Academy of St Petersburg since 1994.[5] In 2002 he won the first prize of the Cadaqués Orchestra International Conducting Competition.

Petrenko made his conducting debut with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (RLPO) in November 2004.[6] After this appearance, in July 2005, he was named the RLPO's principal conductor, the youngest-ever conductor in the post, effective with the 2006–2007 season for an initial contract of 3 years.[7] Since taking up the post, the orchestra's financial situation and attendance have improved.[8][9] He has also received critical praise for revitalising the orchestra, in Russian repertoire (especially Shostakovich) [10] as well as standard repertoire such as Brahms, and in English music.[11] In May 2007, the RLPO announced that Petrenko had extended his contract with the orchestra to 2012.[12] In September 2009, the orchestra announced a further extension of his contract to 2015, with a change of Petrenko's title to Chief Conductor.[13] In March 2013, the RLPO announced the conversion of Petrenko's contract into an extended open-ended agreement with no specific scheduled time of conclusion, and where Petrenko is to give an advance notice of 3 years of when he wishes to conclude his tenure.[14][15][16] His first conducting appearance at The Proms was with the RLPO in August 2008.[17][18] Petrenko and the RLPO have recorded several compact discs for Naxos.[19][20] Petrenko's recording of Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony won the Gramophone orchestral recording of the year in 2009.

In April 2007, Petrenko was one of eight conductors of British orchestras to endorse the 10-year classical music outreach manifesto, "Building on Excellence: Orchestras for the 21st Century", to increase the presence of classical music in the UK, including giving free entry to all British schoolchildren to a classical music concert.[21][22] From December 2008 to 2013 Petrenko served as Principal Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, conducting his first concert with them at the 2009 BBC Proms.[23]

Petrenko first conducted the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra in December 2009.[24] In February 2011, the Oslo Philharmonic announced the appointment of Petrenko as its next chief conductor, as of the 2013-2014 season, with an initial contract of 4 years.[25][26] His Oslo contract calls for 7 weeks of appearances in his first seasons and 10 weeks of appearances in subsequent seasons.[27] In October 2019, his departure from the orchestra in summer 2020 was announced.[28]

In August 2013, comments attributed to Petrenko in a Norwegian newspaper that appeared to denigrate female conductors caused controversy,[29][30][31] including calls for his resignation from the RLPO.[32] Petrenko subsequently apologised for how his remarks were construed, and stated that his comments were in specific reference to the situation for conductors in Russia, rather than female conductors in general. He also indicated that part of the controversy was due to the fact that the interview was conducted in English, rather than Norwegian.[32] Petrenko also subsequently stated publicly:

"I'd encourage any girl to study conducting. How successful they turn out to be depends on their talent and their work, definitely not their gender."

In November 2015, Petrenko's Oslo contract was extended through 2020.[33]

Petrenko first guest-conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) in March 2016. He returned for a subsequent guest-conducting engagement in April 2017. In July 2018, the RPO announced the appointment Petrenko as its new music director, effective with the 2021-2022 season, with an initial contract of 5 years. He is to hold the title of music director-designate for the 2020-2021 season. In parallel with this RPO announcement, Petrenko is scheduled to stand down as chief conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic at the close of the 2019-2020 season.[34] Simultaneously with the RPO announcement, the RLPO announced that Petrenko is to conclude his RLPO chief conductorship at the close of the 2020-2021 season, and subsequently to take the title of conductor laureate with the RLPO.[35]

Petrenko became principal guest conductor of the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Russian Federation in 2016. In January 2021, the orchestra announced the appointment of Petrenko as its next principal conductor, effective 1 September 2021.[36]

Personal life[edit]

Petrenko lives on the Wirral Peninsula with his wife, Evgenia Chernysheva-Petrenko, who is herself a conductor, and their two children, Alexander (Sasha) and Anya.[37] He is a football aficionado and follower of the club Liverpool F.C.[38] In March 2009, Petrenko was awarded an honorary professorship and Doctor of Letters degree from Liverpool Hope University.[39] In April 2009, Petrenko was made an 'Honorary Scouser' by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool.[40] In November 2016, the city of Liverpool made Petrenko a new Citizen of Honour.[41] He became a British citizen in 2015.


Avie Records

  • Tchaikovsky: Ballet Music (from Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker) (2008)
  • Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos Nos. 1–4, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini; Simon Trpčeski, piano (2010, 2011)

Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

  • Jennifer Higdon, Tchaikovsky: Violin Concertos; Hilary Hahn, violin (2010)

EMI Classics

  • Tavener: Requiem (2009)
  • Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances / The Isle of the Dead / The Rock (2011)
  • Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2, Dances from Aleko (2012)
  • Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 3, Caprice Bohemien, Vocalise. (2012)
  • Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 1, Prince Rostislav (2013)

Ecstatic Records

  • Torke: Concerto for Orchestra (2014)

LAWO Classics

  • Scriabin: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 Le Poème de l'extase (2015)
  • Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet (2016)

Liverpool Philharmonic

LPO Classics]

  • Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto (2017)

Mercury Classics

  • Horner: Pas de Deux (2015)

Naxos Records

  • Liszt: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2, Totentanz (2008)
  • Tchaikovsky: Manfred Symphony / The Voyevoda (2008)
  • Shostakovich: Symphony No. 11 (2009)
  • Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 9 (2009)
  • Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10 (2010)
  • Shostakovich: Symphony No. 8 (2010)
  • Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 6 & 12 (2011)
  • Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3 (2011)
  • Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 15 (2012)
  • Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7 (2013)
  • Shostakovich: Symphony No. 4 (2013)
  • Shostakovich: Symphony No. 14 (2014)
  • Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13 (2014)
  • Shostakovich: The Complete Symphonies (2015)
  • Shostakovich: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2; Boris Giltburg, piano (2017)

Ondine Records

  • Shostakovich: Cello Concertos Nos. 1 & 2; Truls Mørk, cello (2016)

Onyx Records

  • Tchaikovsky: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2; Simon Trpčeski, piano (2014)
  • Elgar: Symphony No. 1, Cockaigne Overture (2015)
  • Tchaikovsky: Symphony Nos. 1, 2, and 5 (2016)
  • Elgar: Symphony No. 2, Carissima, Mina, Chanson de Nuit and Chanson de Matin (2017)
  • Tchaikovsky: Symphony Nos. 3, 4, and 6, Pathetique (2017)
  • Prokofiev: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 3, Overture on Hebrew Themes; Simon Trpčeski, piano (2017)

Orfeo Records

  • Szymanowski: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2; Baiba Skride, violin (2016)



  • Wolf-Ferrari: I Quatro Rusteghi (2018)

Sony Classical

  • Guinovart: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2, Valses Poéticos; Albert Guinovart, piano (2014)

Tritó Records

  • Albéniz: 'Poèmes d'amour' (2013)

Warner Classics


  1. ^ Mike Chapple, "Petrenko's mission to make the Phil the world's best orchestra". Liverpool Daily Post, 17 July 2007.
  2. ^ Norman Lebrecht (2008-07-30). "Russian to the rescue". La Scene Musicale. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
  3. ^ Condy, Oliver. "A Russian Revolution: Vasily Petrenko". BBC Music Magazine, September 2009 (Vol. 17 No. 13): p. 26
  4. ^ Anthony Holden (2006-09-17). "Petrenko's Russian revolution". The Observer. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
  5. ^ Alan Weston and Laure Voiment, "The football-mad conductor taking the helm at Liverpool". Liverpool Daily Post, 12 July 2005.
  6. ^ Matthew Connolly (2005-07-22). "Vasily Petrenko signs for Liverpool!". The Times. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
  7. ^ David Ward (2005-07-12). "Orchestra's Russian choice". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
  8. ^ Tim Ashley (2007-02-07). "RLPO/Petrenko". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
  9. ^ Larry Neild (2007-02-14). "Beautiful music as Phil smashes box office record". Liverpool Daily Post. Retrieved 2007-12-26.
  10. ^ Geoffrey Norris (2007-02-05). "Dynamic visionary rings the changes". Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2007-05-17. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
  11. ^ David Fanning (2007-02-12). "Petrenko shows that he is a natural Englishman". Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2007-02-24. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
  12. ^ Geoffrey Norris (2007-10-01). "Vasily Petrenko: Why Liverpool is galvanised by the 'Petrenko effect'". Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2007-10-03.
  13. ^ Catherine Jones (2009-09-10). "Conductor Vasily Petrenko signs up to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra until 2015". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 2009-09-11.
  14. ^ "Vasily Petrenko Extends Contract with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic" (Press release). Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. 13 March 2013. Archived from the original on 18 March 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-17.
  15. ^ Catherine Jones (2013-03-13). "Vasily Petrenko signs new Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra contract". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 2013-03-17.
  16. ^ Sophia Lambton (2013-03-13). "Vasily Petrenko extends RLPO contract". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-03-13.
  17. ^ Vicky Anderson (2008-08-01). "Petrenko prepares for Proms date". Liverpool Daily Post. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
  18. ^ Gail Thomson (2008-08-02). "Music Review: RLPO / Vasily Petrenko, BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall". Liverpool Daily Post. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
  19. ^ Anthony Holden (2008-11-09). "Tchaikovsky, Manfred Symphony, The Voyevoda". The Observer. Retrieved 2009-09-12.
  20. ^ Tim Ashley (2009-01-09). "Liszt Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2; Totentanz; Nebolsin/RLPO/Petrenko". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-09-12.
  21. ^ "Pupils get free concert tickets". BBC News. 26 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
  22. ^ Charlotte Higgins (2007-04-26). "Orchestras urge free concerts for children". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
  23. ^ Erica Jeal (2009-08-09). "Prom 31 – NYO/Petrenko". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-02-20.
  24. ^ Erik Bjørnskau (2011-02-17). "Vasily Petrenko ny sjefdirigent". Aftenposten. Archived from the original on 2011-02-18. Retrieved 2011-02-20.
  25. ^ "Vasily Petrenko Oslo-Filharmoniens neste sjefsdirigent" (Press release). Oslo Philharmonic. 18 February 2011. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-20.
  26. ^ Laura Davis (2011-02-17). "Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra's Vasily Petrenko appointed chief conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 2011-02-20.
  27. ^ Knut Olav Åmås (2011-02-17). "Et svært godt valg". Aftenposten. Archived from the original on 2011-02-18. Retrieved 2011-02-20.
  28. ^ "Klaus Mäkelä new Chief Conductor from 2020". Ofo. Retrieved 2020-04-08.
  29. ^ Maren Ørstavik (2013-08-29). "Vasily Petrenko, ny sjefdirigent i OFO: - Orkestermusikere reagerer bedre på å ha en mann foran seg. De har ofte mindre seksuell energi og kan fokusere mer på musikken". Aftenposten. Retrieved 2013-08-31.
  30. ^ Charlotte Higgins (2013-09-02). "Male conductors are better for orchestras, says Vasily Petrenko". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-11-27.
  31. ^ Hannah Levintova (2013-09-23). "Here's Why You Seldom See Women Leading a Symphony". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2016-11-27.
  32. ^ a b Adam Sweeting (2014-05-08). "Petrenko: I don't believe women conductors are a distraction". Telegraph. Retrieved 2016-11-27.
  33. ^ "Vasily Petrenko extends Oslo contract to 2020". Gramophone. 2015-11-09. Retrieved 2017-01-01.
  34. ^ "Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Announced Vasily Petrenko as Music Director from 2021–22 Season" (Press release). Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. 2 July 2018. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
  35. ^ "Liverpool Philharmonic announces Vasily Petrenko as Conductor Laureate from summer 2021" (Press release). Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. 2 July 2018. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
  36. ^ "Vasily Petrenko will become the Artistic Director of the Svetlanov Symphony Orchestra" (Press release). State Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Russian Federation. 2021-01-14. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  37. ^ Catherine Jones (2016-05-16). "Vasily Petrenko marks 10 years at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 2016-11-27.
  38. ^ Glyn Mon Hughes (2006-09-15). "Signs of old Phil magic as Petrenko makes his debut". Liverpool Daily Post. Retrieved 2007-12-26.
  39. ^ Richard Down (2009-03-26). "Conductor Vasily Petrenko made honoured by Liverpool Hope University". Liverpool Daily Post. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
  40. ^ "Liverpool's footballing legends among first round of Honorary Scousers". Liverpool Echo. 2009-04-03. Retrieved 2009-04-03.
  41. ^ "Vasily becomes Citizen of Honour" (Press release). Culture Liverpool. 21 November 2016. Retrieved 2016-11-27.

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