Yakov Kreizberg (1959-2011)

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World-renowned conductor dies, aged 51

Yakov Kreizberg, one of the world's leading conductors, has died in Monte Carlo after a long illness. He was 51.

In demand around the world, the Russian-born American conductor was particularly familiar to British audiences. His 1992 Glyndebourne debut, conducting Janáček's Jenůfa, was described by the Sunday Times as 'one of the most sensational debuts here within living memory'. A year later he made his Proms debut, and in 1995 he took over the helm of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, a post he held until 2001.

At the time of his death, Kreizberg was chief conductor of the Netherlands Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestras. It was with the Netherlands Philharmonic that, just a month previously, he had conducted what was to be his final concert. Kreizberg was also artistic and music director of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo.

Born in St Petersburg in 1959, Kreizberg began to learn his craft under Ilya Musin. At the age of 17, he moved to the United States where he carried on his studies with Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa and Erich Leinsdorf. In 1986 he won the first prize in the Leopold Stokowski Conducting Competition in New York.

Kreizberg went on to work with many of the world's leading orchestras, including the Berlin and New York Philharmonics, and the London Symphony and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras.

'He was a musician of great elegance and passion,' wrote pianist Stephen Hough in The Telegraph, 'with an intense focus and a warm, lovable personality – not a series of qualities automatically found combined in the same person.'

Diana Garrisi