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The American conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, who was born in 1944 in Los Angeles, studied piano, composition, and conducting at the University of Southern California. At the age of 19 he took on leadership of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra and worked in this capacity with such composers as Stravinsky, Boulez, Stockhausen, and Copland, who introduced their new works at the celebrated Monday Evening Concerts. During the same period, he was active as a pianist in the master classes led by Gregor Piatigorsky and Jascha Heifetz. After winning the Koussevitzky Prize in 1969, Tilson Thomas made his debut conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He led the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra from 1971 to 1979, was Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1981 to 1985, and in 1986 began a nine-year position helming the London Symphony Orchestra, with which he remains associated as Conductor Laureate. Since 1995 Michael Tilson Thomas has served as Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony, with which he has made a multiple-award-winning series of recordings; he has earned no fewer than 11 of the coveted Grammy Awards. Tilson Thomas is also deeply committed to musical education and to working with the new generation: in his television recordings of Young People’s Concerts with the New York Philharmonic from 1971 to 1977, he followed in the footsteps of Leonard Bernstein, who was his mentor for many years. In February 1987 he founded the New World Symphony, a national orchestra for the most talented students from American conservatories. Michael Tilson Thomas is also a successful composer and has written such works as From the Diary of Anne Frank and Shówa/Shoáh, which marked the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Tilson Thomas received the National Medal of Arts in 2010.
LUCERNE FESTIVAL (IMF) debut on 19 April 1992 conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in works by Britten, Berlioz, and Brahms.