Michael Tilson Thomas

Biography

Born: Dec 21, 1944; USA  
Michael Tilson Thomas is among the most famous American-born conductors, with a bright, extroverted personality and a wide-ranging repertoire that has allowed him to take a place at the forefront of experimenation with the form and content of symphonic concerts. His grandparents were Boris and Bessie Thomaschevsky, founders of New York's Yiddish Theater, and his father Ted Thomas was an avid amateur pianist and worked in films and Read more television.
Tilson Thomas attended the University of Southern California. where his composition and conducting teacher was Ingolf Dahl. At the age of 19 he was named music director of the Young Musicians Foundation Orchestra, and was selected as accompanist for master classes by Jascha Heifetz and Gregor Piatigorsky. In 1969 he won the Koussevitzky Prize at the Tanglewood festival in Massachusetts, which carried with it an appointment as assistant conductor of the festival's parent, the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
On October 22, 1969, he was called to replace William Steinberg in a Carnegie Hall concert at the last minute, repeating the circumstances of Leonard Bernstein's sensational emergency debut 26 years earlier. The results were nearly identical: Tilson Thomas was catapulted into the top ranks of American conductors. In 1970 he was appointed associate conductor of the BSO. He has served as music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, (1971-1979), principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic (1981-1985), principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra (1988-1995), and was appointed music director of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in 1995.
He is the founder of the Florida-based New World Symphony Orchestra, which comprises a group of young and promising professional symphonic musicians. Membership in that ensemble is now considered a desirable first step in an orchestral career. Tilson Thomas remains its music director and has recorded notable CDs with the group, including a highly popular Villa-Lobos compilation.
Also a composer, Tilson Thomas wrote From the Diary of Anne Frank on commission from UNICEF in 1990 (actress Audrey Hepburn was the narrator at the premiere). The work has been performed in several countries and languages. He has also written Showa/Shoáh for the city of Hiroshima's memorial services on the fiftieth anniversary of its nuclear bombing. Read less
Browse 1-14 of 14 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Michael Tilson Thomas Conducts Gershwin
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875170082 Release Date: 05/27/2016   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  George Gershwin
    Performer:  Garrick Ohlsson,  Audra McDonald,  Brian Stokes Mitchell,  Michael Tilson Thomas  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  Columbia Jazz Band,  New York Philharmonic  ... 
    CD: $25.49
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  • 2.
    Debussy: Chamber Music / Boston Symphony Chamber Players
    Label: Pentatone   Catalog: 5186226 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Joseph Silverstein,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Jules Eskin,  Doriot Anthony Dwyer  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Chamber Players
    SuperAudio CD: $19.99
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  • 3.
    Silverman: Elephant Steps - A Fearful Radio Show / Michael Tilson Thomas
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 49319 Release Date: 06/04/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Stanley Silverman
    Performer:  Maeretha Stewart,  Patricia Price,  June Higginbotham,  Patti Austin  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 4.
    Imaginary Landscapes - Sounds of America [20-CD Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 44290 Release Date: 07/03/2012   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  John Philip Sousa,  Scott Joplin,  Ferde Grofé,  George Gershwin  ... 
    Performer:  Joshua Rifkin,  Ralph Grierson,  Richard Rodney Bennett,  Barry Tuckwell  ... 
    Conductor:  Timothy Foley,  George Sponhaltz,  Felix Slatkin,  Ferde Grofé  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Great American Main Street Band,  Southland Stingers,  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
    CD: $58.99
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  • 5.
    The Mahler Project / Michael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony
    Label: San Francisco Symphony   Catalog: 39 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 17
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian,  Lorraine Hunt Lieberson,  Michelle DeYoung,  Alexander Barantschik  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  San Francisco Symphony Chorus,  San Francisco Girls Chorus  ... 
    Recommendation
    SuperAudio CD: $274.99
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  • 6.
    Gershwin: Rhapsody In Blue, An American In Paris, The Man I Love / Tilson Thomas, Kostelantz
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 64349 Release Date: 06/02/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Gershwin
    Performer:  George Gershwin,  Harold Jones,  Sarah Vaughan,  George Gaffney  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Morton Gould,  Andre Kostelanetz,  Eugene Ormandy  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Jazz Band,  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra,  Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 7.
    American Counterpoint - Adams, Cage, Nancarrow
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 67132 Release Date: 01/26/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Cage,  John Adams,  Conlon Nancarrow
    Performer:  Ralph Grierson,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Thomas Adčs
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $13.99
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  • 8.
    Minimalism - Reich, Glass, Etc / Thomas, Warren-green, Wilson, London Co
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 6624 Release Date: 06/24/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Philip Glass,  Steve Reich
    Performer:  Alain Damiens,  Franck Rossi,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Ransom Wilson
    Conductor:  Christopher Warren-Green,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Ransom Wilson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Chamber Orchestra,  Solisti New York
    Recommendation
    CD: $12.99
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  • 9.
    Classic Library - Gershwin: Rhapsody In Blue, Etc
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 60862 Release Date: 07/13/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Gershwin
    Performer:  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Garrick Ohlsson
    Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New World Symphony,  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
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    CD: $8.99
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  • 10.
    Artistry - Cage: Three Dances;  Stravinsky, Reich
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 67691 Release Date: 02/12/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Steve Reich,  John Cage
    Performer:  Ralph Grierson,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Roger Kellaway,  Steve Reich  ... 
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 11.
    Ives - An American Journey / Tilson Thomas, San Francisco So
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 63703 Release Date: 02/05/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Ives
    Performer:  Glenn Fischthal,  Thomas Hampson,  Michael Tilson Thomas
    Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Girls Chorus,  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  San Francisco Symphony Chorus
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    CD: $9.99
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  • 12.
    Cello For Relaxation / Isserlis, Harnoy, Starker, Et Al
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 63798 Release Date: 06/19/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Tavener,  Robert Schumann,  Frederick Delius,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Steven Isserlis,  Christoph Eschenbach,  János Starker,  Ofra Harnoy  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin,  Paul Robinson,  Antonio de Almeida,  Sir Charles Mackerras  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Toronto Chamber Orchestra,  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 13.
    Stravinsky: Rite Of Spring, Fireworks, Etc / Ozawa, Et Al
    Label: Rca Red Seal Hp   Catalog: 63311 Release Date: 03/09/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
    Performer:  Michael Tilson Thomas
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $8.99
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  • 14.
    Gershwin Live! / Sarah Vaughan, Michael Tilson Thomas / Los Angeles Philharmonic
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 37277 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Gershwin
    Performer:  Sarah Vaughan,  George Gaffney,  Andy Simpkins,  Harold Jones  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
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