Leonard Slatkin

Leonard Edward Slatkin (born September 1 1944) is an American conductor. His father was the violinist, conductor and founder of the Hollywood String Quartet, Felix Slatkin, and his mother was Eleanor Aller, the cellist with the quartet. His brother, Frederick Zlotkin, is a cellist.


Slatkin studied at Indiana University and Los Angeles City College before attending the Juilliard School where he studied conducting under Jean Paul Morel. His conducting debut came in 1966, and in 1968, Walter Susskind named him an assistant conductor at the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. He stayed there until 1977, when he was made music advisor of the New Orleans Symphony.

He led a series of Beethoven festivals with the San Francisco Symphony during the late 1970s and early 1980s. These annual concerts, held during June, included the orchestra's final concert in San Francisco's War Memorial Opera House in 1980, which featured a performance of Beethoven's ninth symphony. He has continued to guest conduct in San Francisco since this time.

Slatkin returned to Saint Louis in 1979 as music director of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. The national profile of the orchestra increased notably under his tenure. In 1985, he recorded the first digital stereo version of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker with the SLSO. He remained there until 1996, and was named the SLSO's conductor laureate after his departure. His recorded work with that orchestra was represented on RCA Records, EMI and TelArc. Slatkin, a big fan of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team,[1] said that one of his biggest regrets in leaving the St. Louis Symphony to become conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra would be that he would no longer be able to attend Cardinals games. He made recordings for RCA Records with the National Symphony until RCA abandoned new classical recording early in the twenty-first century.

He was the director of the Blossom Festival of the Cleveland Orchestra from 1990-1999. In 1996, Slatkin became music director of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. In 2004, it was announced that his tenure with the National Symphony will conclude in 2008.[2] Slatkin received both praise for improving the overall quality of the orchestra and criticism for under-rehearsal of the NSO.[3]

In 2000, he became the chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. In 2001, he was only the second non-British person to conduct the Last Night of the Proms (Sir Charles Mackerras had been the first in 1980). This performance occurred in the wake of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, and included changes to the traditional second half of the concert.[4] He held this post until 11 September 2004, the 110th Last Night. There were reports of tension between Slatkin and the orchestra, as well as consistently negative concert reviews, which contributed to his short tenure with the BBCSO.[5] [6] Previously in the UK, Slatkin was principal guest conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra from 1997-2000 and made a series of digital recordings for RCA with them, including the symphonies of Ralph Vaughan Williams. In 2005, he became the principal guest conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London.

In 2006, he was named the music advisor to the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. In that capacity, he conducted the inaugural concert of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center on September 9, 2006. In June 2007, it was announced that Slatkin would become the Principal Guest Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra beginning in 2008.[7]

Slatkin has conducted a wide range of repertoire, being particularly noted for his interpretations of twentieth century American and British composers. His compositions, including The Raven (1971) for narrator and orchestra after Edgar Allan Poe, are little known. In addition to his earlier St. Louis recordings for RCA and EMI, Slatkin has conducted several recordings for the Naxos label, including the first commercial recording of William Bolcom's Songs of Innocence and of Experience.[8]

On October 7 2007 in Detroit, Slatkin announced he had reached agreement on a 3 year contract, followed by a two year option, to become the new music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, beginning with the 2008-2009 subscription season. Slatkin said he will move his family to the Detroit area and plans, eventually, to lead up to 20 of the orchestra's 26 subscription weeks.[9]


In 1990, Leonard Slatkin was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame. On October 27 2006, the Jacobs School of Music announced that Slatkin will be joining the faculty at Indiana University where he will teach conducting and composition part-time.

Personal life

Slatkin has been married three times. His first two marriages, to Beth Gootee and to Jerilyn Cohen, ended in divorce. He and his third wife, soprano Linda Hohenfeld, married since 1986, have a son, Daniel.[10]

He had a widely-publicised affair with the profoundly-deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie.[11]


1. ^ Mark Stryker. "The Slatkin Connection", Detroit Free Press, 25 July 2007. Retrieved on 2007-07-25.2007"> 
2. ^ Tim Page. "Slatkin, NSO to Part in 2008", Washington Post, 18 Nov 2004. Retrieved on 2007-04-28.2004"> 
3. ^ John Pitcher. "Maestro of His Domain", Nashville Scene, 12 July 2007. Retrieved on 2007-08-02.2007"> 
4. ^ Andrew Clements. "Prom 72/ Last Night of the Proms", The Guardian, 17 September 2001. Retrieved on 2007-08-02.2001"> 
5. ^ Geoffrey Norris. "Who'll pick up the baton?", Telegraph, 20 July 2004. Retrieved on 2007-04-28. 
6. ^ Charlotte Higgins. "'Grumpy? What's that?'", The Guardian, 2 February 2005. Retrieved on 2007-08-02.2005"> 
7. ^ Tim Page. "Slatkin Also To Conduct In Pittsburgh", Washington Post, 15 June 2007. Retrieved on 2007-07-18.2007"> 
8. ^ Andrew Clements. "Bolcom: Songs of Innocence and Experience: Soloists/ University of Michigan Musical Society/ Slatkin", The Guardian, 29 April 2005. Retrieved on 2007-08-02.2005"> 
9. ^ Lawrence B. Johnson. "Slatkin to take the baton at DSO", The Detroit News, October 7 2007. Retrieved on 2007-08-02.2007"> 
10. ^ Nicholas Wroe. "Star-spangled Promenader", The Guardian, 14 July 2001. Retrieved on 2007-08-02. 
11. ^ "Profile: Leonard Slatkin: Last night of the maestro who hit a wrong note", The Times, 2004-09-12. Retrieved on 2007-10-10. 

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    The Hollywood String Quartet was formed in 1939 by violinist and conductor Felix Slatkin and his wife, cellist Eleanor Aller.

    The original formation of the quartet was rounded out by Joachim Chassman and Paul Robyn. They broke up in 1941 due to Slatkin's entry into the army.
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    Felix Slatkin (December 22, 1915 – February 8, 1963) was an American violinist and conductor.

    Slatkin was born in St. Louis, Missouri and began studying the violin at the age of nine with Isadore Grossman.
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    Eleanor Aller (Slatkin) (May 20, 1917 – October 13, 1995) was a world-renowned cellist and founding member, with her husband, Felix Slatkin, of the Hollywood String Quartet.

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    The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO), founded in 1931, is a major American symphony orchestra that performs at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC. Since 1996, the music director of the orchestra is the American conductor Leonard Slatkin.
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