The American conductor Jorge Mester was born in Mexico City in 1935 to parents who had emigrated from Hungary. He studied conducting with Jean Morel at The Juilliard School in New York, also working with Leonard Bernstein at the Berkshire Music Center, and with Albert Wolff. In 1955, he made his debut conducting the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico. His opera debut was with Salome in 1960 at the Spoleto Festival in Italy. Since then he has conducted many of the world’s leading ensembles, including the Boston Symphony, the Detroit Symphony, and the Royal Philharmonic orchestras, and conducted the premieres of more than 75 works. He was music director of the Louisville Orchestra, noted for its advocacy of new and neglected music, from 1967 to 1979 and again from 2006-2012. With this orchestra Mester made more than seventy-one recordings of works by such composers as Bruch, Cowell, Crumb, Dallapiccola, Ginastera, Granados, Koechlin, Penderecki, Petrassi, Schuller, and Shostakovich. From 1969 to 1990, he was music director of the Aspen Festival and later became its conductor laureate. Mester was appointed music director of the Pasadena Symphony Orchestra in 1983, and in 1998 he added to that post the music directorship of the Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra. A noted teacher, he was on the faculty of The Juilliard School for most of the period between 1958 and 1988. His teaching influence extends to several generations of conductors, including James Conlon, Dennis Russell Davies, Andreas Delfs, JoAnn Falletta, and John Nelson, and as mentor to highly-acclaimed artists such as Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Midori, Renee Fleming, Cho-Liang Lin, and Robert McDuffie.
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