Dimitri Kitaenko is among the leading Russian conductors of his generation. Though generally overshadowed by his contemporary Yuri Temirkanov, as well as older-generation figures like Kiril Kondrashin and Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Kitaenko has held several prestigious conducting posts and has made a spate of critically praised recordings for a variety of major labels in both operatic and symphonic repertory largely dominated by RussianRead more composers.
Kitaenko was born in Leningrad, on August 18, 1940. He studied conducting at the Leningrad Conservatory, then later at the Moscow Conservatory under Lev Ginzburg. With the thaw in the Cold War allowing greater artistic freedom in the Soviet Union, he moved onto the Vienna Conservatory where he studied under famed conductor Hans Swarowsky.
The most crucial event in Kitaenko's early career was his entry in the first Herbert von Karajan Competition in 1969, where he won first prize. The following year he was appointed artistic director at the Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theater in Moscow, a post that allowed him to gain much experience in operatic repertory. He also began conducting the leading Russian orchestras and soon became a regular conductor at the Bolshoi. He traveled abroad, too, leading important operatic productions in Brussels, Vienna, and Munich.
In 1976 he was appointed principal conductor of the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, succeeding Kiril Kondrashin. During his 14-year stint in Moscow, Kitaenko made many recordings for the Soviet label Melodiya, his releases including the complete symphonies of Prokofiev, and various works by Shostakovich, Rachmaninov, and, surprisingly, Gershwin. In 1990 he left the Soviet Union for Western Europe, taking two conducting posts concurrently, the Bergen (Norway) Philharmonic Orchestra, where he served until 1998, and the Hessischen Rundfunk Orchestra, Frankfurt, a post he held until 1996.
Among Kitaenko's first recordings to be released in the west was a 1991 Prokofiev disc on the Chandos label containing Alexander Nevsky and the Scythian Suite, made with the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra and Choir. After 1998, Kitaenko regularly began appearing as a guest conductor in Europe, Japan, and the U.S. In the new century he has made a number of successful recordings, including the 2001 cycle of the five Prokofiev piano concertos, with his former Frankfurt orchestra and pianist Vladimir Krainev on the Elektra label. In 2005, Kitaenko finished recording the 15 symphonies of Shostakovich, and the set was issued on the Capriccio label to a quite favorable critical response. Read less