The Berlin Philharmonic has appointed Esa-Pekka Salonen as its new Composer-in-Residence. The Finnish conductor and composer will step into the role for the ensemble's 2022-23 season. During that season the orchestra will play a wide range of Salonen's music, from the colourful orchestral showpiece Helix (in late December) to the German premiere of his Organ Concerto (January 2023) and his michievous Dada-inspired piece for choir and orchestra Karawane (May 2023).


Salonen is currently Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony, and Conductor Laureate of the Philharmonia in London, having served as its Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor from 2008-2021. He is currently in the middle of Multiverse Esa-Pekka Salonen, a two-season residency as both composer and conductor, at Elbphilharmonie Hamburg.

As a composer he is known for writing music that manages to be at once playful and cerebral. And his output is widely varied, ranging from this 1988 piece Floof (which Salonen describes as ‘the ultimate product of the electro-troubadour, set to dodecaphonic rap music.’) to his 2004 work Wing on Wing, inspired by the architecture of the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall.

'I want music – and especially my music – to be part of society,' says Salonen in the Berlin Philharmonic's press release. 'What I can’t stand are people who take themselves too seriously. There always has to be room for irony and laughter, otherwise life would be unbearable.'

His first concert in his new role with the Berlin Philharmonic will take place on 21st December 2022.


Photo: Minna Hatinen/Finnish National Opera and Ballet


Hannah Nepilova is a regular contributor to BBC Music Magazine. She has also written for The Financial Times, The Times, The Strad, Gramophone, Opera Now, Opera, the BBC Proms and the Philharmonia, and runs The Cusp, an online magazine exploring the boundaries between art forms. Born to Czech parents, she has a strong interest in Czech music and culture.