Gilbert Levine

Sir Gilbert Levine (b. January 22, 1948 in Brooklyn, New York) is a distinguished American conductor. [ Grußbotschaft von Papst Benedikt XVI. anläßlich der Aufführung der »Missa solemnis« im Kölner Dom ] ]

Levine has conducted major orchestras in the United States and abroad, including the Royal Philharmonic, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony, the Bayerischer Staatsorchester, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the WDR Symphony Orchestra (Köln), and the Pittsburgh Symphony. He has conducted televised concerts on PBS and the European Broadcasting Union and has performed for Pope John Paul II on numerous occasions. According to the German/Austrian/Swiss television network, 3SAT, "American conductor Gilbert Levine counts as one of the leading figures in the world of music on international television." In 2001, American television’s most respected news magazine, CBS “60 Minutes”, profiled Levine in a segment entitled “The Pope’s Maestro” created by the same team that also that produced stories on maestros Daniel Barenboim, Valery Gergiev, and Gustavo Dudamel. [] ] In 2008, Muso, the British classical music magazine, profiled Sir Gilbert Levine in its "Living Legends" series, which has included such eminent contemporary conductors as Sir Colin Davis and Pierre Boulez.]


Levine attended the Juilliard School of Music, and holds degrees from both Princeton University (A.B.) and Yale University (M.A.). He studied bassoon with Stephen Maxym and Sherman Walt, piano with Gilbert Kalish, Music History with Lewis Lockwood and Arthur Mendel, Music Theory with Edward T. Cone, Peter Westergaard and Milton Babbitt, ear training and score reading with Nadia Boulanger, Renée Longy, and Luise Vosgerchian, and conducting with Jacques-Louis Monod and Franco Ferrara.Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra: "Sir Gilbert Levine",]

He was assistant to Sir Georg Solti in London and Paris, working with Sir Georg at Royal Opera House (Covent Garden), L'Orchestre de Paris, and on the RCA recording of Puccini La Boheme. Levine was also a protegé of the German conductor Klaus Tennstedt, working with Maestro Tennstedt on his Mahler symphony cycle both in the concert hall and on recordings for EMI.

Sir Gilbert Levine has lectured at Harvard University, Princeton University, and Yale University inter alia and has taught conducting both at Yale and the Manhattan School of Music. [ U.S. Premiere of the 7th Public Television Special by Princeton University Alumnus Sir Gilbert Levine '71 - Lewis Center for the Arts ] ] His conducting students have included the noted American composer, Aaron Kernis. Levine maintains current ties to his two alma maters. He serves as a member of the Princeton University Department of Music Advisory Council and has recently been appointed to a fifth term as Associate Fellow of Trumbull College/Yale by the Yale Corporation, that university's highest governing body.

Early career and the Krakow Philharmonic years

Early in his career, Levine conducted orchestras both in Europe and the United States, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the NDR Sinfonie-Orchester Hamburg, and the Radio-Sinfonie Orchester-Berlin, this last in a performance of Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, which was recorded for release on CD.

He first gained international notice when he became conductor and artistic director of the Kraków Philharmonic in 1987. He was the first American to take charge of an Eastern European orchestra, succeeding such conductors as Sir Andrzej Panufnik and Stanislaw Skrowaczewski.

Levine guided the orchestra in the difficult final period of communist rule, through the tumultuous political events of 1989-90, and into the current post-totalitarian era. All this fundamental change was mirrored in the life of the Krakow Philharmonic as well.

Under Levine's direction, the Krakow Philharmonic's international reputation increased greatly. The orchestra toured extensively in Europe (the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and France), Asia (including the first-ever visit by any Polish ensemble to South Korea in 1989), and in North America, where in 1993, it appeared in major concert halls such as Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.and Lincoln Center in New York City, respectively, Symphony Hall in Boston, and Severance Hall in Cleveland, Ohio. Under his baton, the Krakow Philharmonic also performed for the first time with such soloists as Emanuel Ax, Garrick Ohlsson, and Shlomo Mintz. It also recorded for international labels and made numerous television and radio broadcasts, both in Poland and abroad.]

Concerts for Pope John Paul II and pontifical knighthood

In 1988, while working in Kraków, Levine met Pope John Paul II. The Pope invited Levine to Rome for a tête-à-tête in the Pontiff's private library in the Vatican. Following that meeting, the Pope asked Gilbert Levine to conduct the concert commemorating the 10th anniversary of his Pontificate. [ - Transcripts ] ] This concert was originally broadcast by RAI, Italian television, and throughout Europe via Eurovision. It was subsequently broadcast and re-broadcast on Public Television in the U.S. over the next 17 years.

In 1993, Levine conducted for the Pope before an audience of more than half a million at World Youth Day in Denver. That program included the first performances of works by Bernstein, Barber, and Copland at any Papal event. It was televised world-wide.

In 1994, Levine (whose mother-in-law was an Auschwitz survivor) conducted the historic "Papal Concert to Commemorate the Shoah (Holocaust)," which marked the first official Vatican commemoration of the Nazi genocide of World War II, and was front page news throughout the world. Veverka, Fayette Breaux: PRACTICING FAITH: NEGOTIATING IDENTITY AND DIFFERENCE IN A RELIGIOUSLY PLURALISTIC WORLD. Religious Education, Winter 2004.] The orchestra for this concert was the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The soloist was American cellist Lynn Harrell. Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss narrated an excerpt from Leonard Bernstein Third Symphony (Kaddish).

In 1998, Sir Gilbert Levine led members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and, with the special permission of His Holiness Pope John Paul II, the ancient Capella Giulia Choir of Saint Peter’s Basilica, in a series of concerts to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the founding of Mission San Luis Rey in California. These festival concerts constituted the first-ever visit of this 500 year- old choir to the Western Hemisphere. The San Luis Rey concerts were broadcast on NPR’s “Performance Today”. [ February 6 DAILY CATHOLIC TEXT Section One (feb6txt.htm) ] ]

Additional Papal concerts at the Vatican under the direction of Gilbert Levine included the first of two concerts celebrating the Catholic Church's Grand Jubilee in 2000 with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus performing parts one and two of Haydn The Creation [ The Jubilee Creation Concert ] ] (Riccardo Muti conducted the other Grand Jubilee Papal concert, leading Vienna Philharmonic and the Arnold Schönberg Choir of Vienna in portions of Bach Mass in B Minor). Levine also conducted a 2003 televised musical celebration of the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's pontificate with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in Saint Peter's Basilica, a concert which aired on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC).

In 2004, Sir Gilbert Levine conducted his last concert for Pope John Paul II, leading the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra along with members of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, the London Philharmonic Choir, the Krakow Philharmonic Choir, and the Ankara Polyphonic Choir in the "Papal Concert of Reconciliation." This event marked the first time that any American orchestra had performed for any Pope in the Vatican. The concert, which was broadcast worldwide, included the Mahler Second Symphony (Resurrection), and "Abraham," a specially-commissioned motet by Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer John Harbison. [ WQED Pittsburgh: Media-Only Press Room ] ] [ BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Orchestra to make Vatican history ] ] [ Pittsburgh Symphony to perform for pope ] ]

Over the 17 years of his relationship with John Paul II, Levine became known as "the Pope's Maestro." In 1994, for his services to the Pope and to the Vatican, he was invested as a Knight Commander of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great, the highest Papal knighthood accorded to a non-ecclesiastical musician since Mozart. Gouveia, Georgette. Writings revealed John Paul as a pope with an artist's soul "The Journal News", 2005. ] cite web |url= |title=Telarc International: Gilbert Levine |accessdate=2006-12-23 |format= |work= ]

Upon John Paul II's death, Levine called him a friend and "an incredible sustenance for me." In 2005, Levine conducted a memorial concert for the Pontiff, which was broadcast on PBS.

Also in 2005, Pope John Paul II's successor, Pope Benedict XVI, awarded Levine a further Papal honor by bestowing upon him the Silver Star of Saint Gregory, the highest rank of pontifical nobility achieved by a Jew in the history of the Vatican.

Recent years

Beginning in 1997, Levine has toured with three eminent London orchestras: the Royal Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, and the Philharmonia Orchestra. He and the Royal Philharmonic received critical praise for their recording of Tchaikovsky Third Symphony.

In 2000, Levine was named Artistic Director and Conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra "Millennium Creation Series." In this capacity he toured America and Europe, performing Haydn The Creation in televised concerts in Baltimore, London, and Rome. [ Maestro Gilbert Levine ] ]

In the same year, Levine led the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir in televised performances of excerpts of Gorecki Third Symphony and Beethoven Ninth Symphony, joining the Berlin Philharmonic under Bernard Haitink and the New York Philharmonic under Kurt Masur in performing in Krakow during the city's reign as the European Capital of Culture. On this occasion, Levine received the Krakow Gold Medallion from the city, in recognition of his services to Krakow's cultural life.

He again led the LPO in 2003, conducting selections of Verdi and Mozart on ABC's "Good Morning America" in a historic first for that program.

In 2002-2003, Levine also opened the concert season of the Montreal Symphony and led the Dresden Staatskapelle with the Munchener Bachchor in Brahms Requiem in Krakow. This concert was broadcast throughout Europe as well as webcast. From 2004 to 2006, Levine led the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in a series of high-profile concerts entitled "Music for the Spirit," which included a standing room-only performance of the Verdi Requiem in Heinz Hall with the Mendelssohn Choir in 2004, a January 2006 concert with both these ensembles to commemorate the 100th anniversary of St. Paul's Cathedral in Pittsburgh of Haydn's The Creation, and a June 2006 concert of Mahler Third Symphony.

In November 2005, Sir Gilbert led the Orchestra of Saint Lukes and the Morgan State University Choir in the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. That national concert, entitled “Rejoice in this Land,” included Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and the world premiere of "Washington Speaks" by Richard Danielpour, which was narrated by ABC news anchor Ted Koppel. [ 'Rejoice In This Land' Concert ] ] The performance was broadcast throughout the United States both on terrestrial radio in major cities and on XM Satellite Radio.

In 2005 and again in 2007, Levine conducted concerts from Cologne Cathedral which were televised live in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. The first of these included a performance of Beethoven Missa Solemnis with the Royal Philharmonic and the London Philharmonic Choir in what critics called "a sovereign and highly disciplined interpretation." The latter concert, with the WDR Symphonieorchester (Köln), the WDR Rundfunk Chor (Köln), and the NDR Chor (Hamburg) included the Bruckner Ninth Symphony and Bruckner Te Deum.

Over the course of his distinguished career, Levine has collaborated with such soloists as Mitsuko Uchida, Yo-Yo Ma, Jaime Laredo, Salvatore Accardo, Benita Valente, Jerry Hadley, John Relyea, Elisabeth Söderström, Monica Groop, Lynn Harrell, Christiane Olze, Anja Harteros, Wolfgang Holzmair, Franz Josef Selig, Philip Langridge, CBE, and Sir John Tomlinson.

Media coverage

On television Sir Gilbert Levine has been featured on many occasions, both as a news subject and in concert. In addition to his appearance on "Good Morning America," and his numerous performances on European television, a major profile of him, entitled “The Pope’s Maestro”, appeared on the CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes.” Other stories about him have been featured on such programs as “CBS Evening News,” “CBS Sunday Morning” (on which he was profiled by Eugenia Zukerman), “ABC World News Tonight” and “ABC Nightline” with Ted Koppel, as well as on both “Larry King Live” and “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer, on CNN. He is also a frequent guest on National Public Radio, on such programs as "Symphony Cast," "Performance Today," and “All Things Considered.”]

Critical response

In addition to the reception of the "Papal Concert to Commemorate the Shoah" and the response to his 2005 performance of the Missa Solemnis, Levine received critical acclaim for his Telarc recording of the Tchaikovsky Third Symphony, with the American Record Guide stating, “There cannot be a more beautiful recording” and The Times giving it “Three Star Highest Rating.” Also receiving praise was Levine's CD of music by Benjamin Britten on the Arabesque label with the English Chamber Orchestra and soprano Elisabeth Söderström, which The New York Times described as “spectacular,” selecting the recording as the “Pick of the Week” for several weeks running.

Television concerts

Sir Gilbert Levine has enjoyed particular success conducting major orchestras on world-wide television, many in their U.S. television debut.

These concerts include:

1988--"A Musical Offering from the Vatican"--Orchestra of RAI/Roma, Choirs of RAI, Krakow Philharmonic and Warsaw Philharmonic--Brahms Ave Maria, Penderecki Stabat Mater, Dvořák Mass in D; Original Broadcaster: RAI/Roma/European Broadcast Union, PBS [ A Musical Offering from the Vatican: A Papal Concert (1992) (TV) ] ] --Released on VHS by View Video

1994--"Papal Concert to Commemorate the Shoah"--Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Coro della Filharmonia Romana--Bruch Kol Nidre, Beethoven Ninth Symphony (Third Movement), Schubert Psalm 92, Excerpt of the Bernstein Third Symphony ("Kaddish"), Bernstein Chichester Psalms (Movements 2 and 3) --Original Broadcaster: RAI/EBU, PBS (WNET)--Released on VHS by Rhino

2000--"Jubilee Creation"--Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus--Haydn The Creation--Original Broadcaster: Maryland Public Broadcasting/PBS

2000--Concert for the 80th Birthday of His Holiness Pope John Paul II--Haydn The Creation--Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus--Original Broadcaster: RAI/EBU [ Concert at Paul VI Hall ] ]

2000--"A Thousand Years of Music and Spirit"--London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir--Bogurodzica, Gorecki Third Symphony (Second Movement), Beethoven Ninth Symphony--Original Broadcaster: Telewizja Polska--WTTW (Chicago)/APT [ American Public Television ] ]

2002--Concert in Commemoration of the 1st Anniversary of the Terror Attacks of September 11th--Sachsisch Staatskapelle Dresden and Munchener Bachchor--Barber Agnus Dei, Gorecki Totus Tuus, Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem--Original Broadcaster: Telewizja Polska/EBU [ andante - classical music - article ] ] [ US Consulate General Krakow Press Releases ] ]

2004--"Papal Concert of Reconciliation"--Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra with the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, the London Philharmonic Choir, the Krakow Philharmonic Choir, and the Ankara Polyphonic Choir--Harbison Abraham (World Premiere), Mahler Second Symphony (First, Fourth, and Fifth Movements) --Original Broadcaster: RAI/EBU, WQED (Pittsburgh)/PBS--Released on DVD by WQED Multimedia Pittsburgh

2005--"Crossing the Bridge of Faiths: Im Memoriam Pope John Paul II"--Sachsische Staatskapelle Dresden and Munchener Bachchor--Gorecki Totus Tuus, Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem--Original Broadcaster: WQED (Pittsburgh)/PBSBeethoven Missa Solemnis--Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Choir--Original Broadcaster: WDR (Köln)/3SAT [ Vorschau ] ] --Released on DVD by Arthaus

2007--Bruckner Ninth Symphony, Bruckner Te Deum--WDR Sinfonieorchester (Köln), WDR Rundfunkchor (Köln), NDR Chor (Hamburg)--Original Broadcaster: WDR (Köln)/3SAT [ Willkommen bei ] ]

2008--“From Heart to Heart: Beethoven’s Plea for Peace”. The U.S. Public Television version of the “Missa Solemnis” from Cologne Cathedral. Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Choir - Co-production of WDR/Koln and Peter Rosen Productions, Inc. Original Broadcaster: WQED Multimedia/Pittsburgh and American Public Television (APT). [ MPT PressRoom: Press Release ] ]

elected audio recordings

Mussorgsky--Pictures at an Exhibition--RSO Berlin--Capriccio [ Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition (Piano & Orchestral Versions): Music: Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky,Gilbert Levine ] ]

Britten--Simple Symphony, Op. 4, Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, Op. 10--Les Illuminations, Op. 18 (Elisabeth Söderström) --English Chamber Orchestra--Arabesque [ Britten: Les Illuminations (Song Cycle) Op. 18; Simple Symphony Op4; Variations on Theme by Frank Bridge Op10: Music: Benjamin Britten,Gilbert Levine,English Chamber Orchestra,Elisabeth Söderström ] ]

Shostakovich--First Symphony, Op. 10, Age of Gold, Op. 22 (Excerpts), Concerto for Piano, Trumpet, and Strings, Op. 35 (Garrick Ohlsson, Maurice Murphy)--Krakow Philharmonic Orchestra--Arabesque [ Shostakovich: Symphony No. 1; Concerto; Age of Gold: Music: Waldyslaw Zmijowski,Dmitry Shostakovich,Gilbert Levine,Krakow Philharmonic Orchestra,Garrick Ohlsson,Maurice Murphy ] ]

Papal Concert to Commemorate the Holocaust--Bruch Kol Nidrei, Beethoven Ninth Symphony (Movement 3), Schubert Psalm 92, Bernstein Third Symphony (Excerpt) and Chichester Psalms (Movements 2 and 3) --Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Lynn Harrell, Richard Dreyfuss (Narrator)--Justice

Tchaikovsky--Third Symphony, Op. 29--Rimsky-Korsakov--Piano Concerto, Op. 30 (Jeffrey Campbell)--Royal Philharmonic Orchestra--Telarc [ Telarc International: ] ]

Wagner--Orchestral Excerpts--Parsifal (Prelude and Good Friday Spell), Tristan und Isolde (Prelude and Liebestod), Tannhäuser (Overture and Entrance into the Hall), Siegfried Idyll--London Philharmonic Orchestra--Recorded for syndicated radio and XM Satellite Radio, broadcast by WFMT (Chicago)]


External links

* [ Gilbert Levine quotes at]

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