Esa-Pekka Salonen awarded honorary knighthood for services to music and UK-Finland relations

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II awarded the Finnish conductor a KBE as he is partway through his final season at the helm of the Philharmonia Orchestra


Esa-Pekka Salonen has been awarded an honorary knighthood from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, for services to music and UK-Finland relations.


The Finnish composer is currently in his final year as principal conductor and artistic advisor of the Philharmonia, where he will remain as conductor emeritus from the 2021/22 season. At the beginning of this season, he also took on the role of music director with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.

At the Philharmonia, he will be succeeded as principal conductor by Santtu-Matias Rouvali, who is a fellow Finn and, at just 35 years old, is the youngest principal conductor to have led the orchestra. The pair have been working alongside one another since 2017, when Rouvali joined the Philharmonia as principal guest conductor.

As well as leading the Philharmonia Orchestra, Salonen also holds the role of conductor laureate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.


‘This is a true personal honour, but more than that, it is meaningful to have artists honoured at a national—at a historical—level,’ says Salonen. ‘It shows an appreciation of art-making as a necessary part of society. A recognition that culture is who we are, not just what we do.’