Esa-Pekka Salonen (born June 30, 1958) is a Finnish orchestral conductor and composer. He is currently Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, Conductor Laureate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Composer-In-Residence at the New York Philharmonic, and Artistic Director and cofounder of the Baltic Sea Festival.
Salonen, born in Helsinki, Finland, studied horn and composition at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, as well as conducting with Jorma Panula. His conducting classmates included Jukka-Pekka Saraste and Osmo Vänskä. Another classmate on the composition side was the composer Magnus Lindberg and together they formed the new-music appreciation group Korvat auki ("Ears open" in the Finnish language) and the experimental ensemble Toimii (lit. "It works"). Later, Salonen studied with the composers Franco Donatoni, Niccolò Castiglioni and Einojuhani Rautavaara.
His first experience with conducting came in 1979 with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, though he still thought of himself principally as a composer; in fact, Salonen has said that the primary reason he took up conducting was to ensure that someone would conduct his own compositions. In 1983, however, he replaced an indisposed Michael Tilson Thomas to conduct a performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 3 with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London at very short notice without ever having studied the score before that time, and it launched his career as a conductor. He was subsequently principal guest conductor of the Philharmonia from 1985 to 1994...
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