Salonen remembers Ernest Fleischmann

Posted on: June 18, 2010

“Ernest Fleischmann, who died late Sunday night, left a very large footprint in Los Angeles,” writes Mark Swed Thursday (6/17) on the Los Angeles Times blog Culture Monster. “Just imagine the Los Angeles Philharmonic without Esa-Pekka Salonen. … His first meeting with Fleischmann 27 years ago set the tone. Hearing that a remarkable 25-year-old Finnish composer and conductor would be a last-minute substitute for Michael Tilson Thomas at the Philharmonia in London, Fleischmann immediately flew from L.A. to catch the performance of Mahler’s Third Symphony. ‘He came backstage,’ Salonen recalled, ‘and everyone was making this big deal about this Ernest Fleischmann, whom I had never heard of. He walked up to me and didn’t mince words. He offered me the job at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, without authorization from the board or anything. It was incredible.’ … When he did finally become the L.A. Philharmonic’s music director in 1992, Salonen said, no one but Fleischmann could have more imaginatively guided his career. One way was by putting together the Finnish conductor with the director Peter Sellars right from the start. ‘He felt that I needed some kind of partner who would be outside the box, somebody who could walk me through this country and translate the culture for me until I could walk for myself. But who had ever heard of an orchestra hiring a dramaturge?’ ”

Posted June 18, 2010