Yakov Kreizberg

The Russian conductor Yakov Kreizberg built an impressive career both on the opera podium and in the concert hall. He is renowned for his attention to intricate detail and emotional and passionate expressiveness. Born in Leningrad, he emigrated to the USA in the mid-1970s where he studied at Mannes College and took up conducting fellowships at Tanglewood, studying with Bernstein and Ozawa.

Early on in his career, he was appointed General Music Director (GMD) of the United Municipal Theaters of Krefeld and Monchengladbach and later the Komische Oper, Berlin, conducting both opera productions and orchestral concerts. He stated: "Working in opera is the single best experience a conductor can get. Without it, he will never develop into what he could be. Singers, good and bad, teach you to be more flexible and to learn things a symphony orchestra will never teach you."

He made his UK début conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra at The Proms in 1993. Other British appointments included the principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the Glyndebourne Festival Opera.

Kreizberg conducted the New York Philharmonic, and he also conducted the Philadelphia, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestras, but never succeeded in securing the music directorship in the US that his supporters felt he deserved.

Although a master of the Russian repertoire, Kreizberg was an equally passionate exponent of the great Czech operas.

Kreizberg was Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra between 2003 and 2011, during which time he recorded regularly for PENTATONE. These include several impressive violin concerto recordings of Tchaikovsky, Brahms Mozart, Khachaturian and Prokofiev violin concertos with the violinist Julia Fischer. Kreizberg and Fischer worked together regularly. Fischer recalled her first meeting with Kreizberg in Philadelphia, where they were performing the violin concerto by Khachaturian for the first time, following her arrival after a physically exhausting journey:

"So I had the violin in my hand for nearly two days, without sleep, from the car to the stage - I was really at my physical limit. We met in front of the orchestra: ‘Hey, I'm Yakov.’ ‘I'm Julia.’… already we had to start. And it was as if we had already performed together a hundred times. We interpreted it exactly the same way."

Working in opera is the single best experience a conductor can get. Without it, he will never develop into what he could be.

One month before his death, Kreizberg had been scheduled to stand down from his positions in the Netherlands Philharmonic and Netherlands Chamber Orchestra at the end of the 2010-2011 season. His final concert took place on 14 February 2011 with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.

Yakov Kreizberg died after a long illness in Monaco, where he was conductor of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo.

Julia Fischer

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