Yuri Simonov


"The renowned conductor Yuri Simonov gave a masterclass with his baton...the St. Petersburg Orchestra displayed all of it’s splendour...(and) obtained the sell-out public’s ovation."

Diana Díaz, La Nueva Espana

"one of the great Russian conductors"


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Chief Conductor Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
Musical Director Liszt-Wagner Orchestra

Yuri Simonov was born in Saratov, USSR, into a family of opera singers. He studied at Leningrad Conservatoire with Nikolai Rabinovich and was Evgeny Mravinsky’s assistant at the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 1968 Yuri Simonov was the first Russian conductor to win a Western conducting competition triumphing at the Santa Cecilia Competition in Rome. After making his Bolshoi Opera debut in 1969 with Aida, the company appointed him Chief Conductor. Highlights from this period included several memorable tours which he led to Paris, Japan, Vienna, New York, Milan and Washington.

In 1982 he made his British debuts, at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, conducting Eugene Onegin, and with the London Symphony Orchestra. Since then he has conducted all the leading British orchestras. In 1986 he opened the Royal Opera’s season at Covent Garden with Verdi’s La Traviata.

Yuri Simonov made his American concert debut with the Boston Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestras in 1989. The following year he made his American operatic debut in Los Angeles (Verdi’s Don Carlos) followed by Mussorgsky’s Khovanschina for San Francisco Opera. He conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra both in Boston and at the Tanglewood Festival in 1994. His debut with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra was in 1997.

During the last two decades Mo. Simonov has also continued his long-lasting contact with Budapest Opera, conducting a Wagner opera every year, including the complete Ring cycle.

From 1994 to 2002 Yuri Simonov was the Music Director of the Belgian National Orchestra. Since 1998 he has been the Chief Conductor of the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom he tours extensively all over the world, and since 2001 he has been the Musical Director of the Liszt-Wagner Orchestra in Budapest.

This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.

Orchestra di San Carlo, Naples

Teatro di San Carlo (April 2018)

The programme was guided by the excellent Yuri Simonov, a conductor of first-class vintage style, and harbinger of a culture unhampered by irrational intellectual biases… two works made a rare outing, the Symphony No. 26 (‘Lamentation’) by Haydn and the ‘Russian Easter Festival Overture’ by Rimsky-Korsakov. Majestically directed by an artist seeped in the spirit of the grand overture… [the Rimsky-Korsakov] was the high point of the evening… This concert was certainly one of the highlights of the Theatre’s symphonic season.

Massimo Lo Jacono, ROMA

Moscow Philharmonic, Bridgewater Hall Manchester

October 2011

The Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra enjoyed an evening of youthful exuberance in the Bridgewater Hall with an all-Russian programme, conducted with grace and refinement by Yuri Simonov[...]The excitability and bouncy attack of the third movement were well managed by Simonov, who also made the most of his beautifully sonorous string section. The first of the evening’s many encores, a Brahms Intermezzo, was a satisfying epilogue to a gutsy and yet sensuous reading of a fine concerto[...]The understated beauty and skittish playfulness of these works were a very pleasing end to a fine concert.

Rohan Shotton, Bachtrack

Moscow Philharmonic, Sheffield City Hall

May 2014

A packed City Hall witnessed the return of the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra to deliver a programme of Russian music, two years after their last appearance in Sheffield. Yuri Simonov, their charismatic Director, stepped in at the last moment to deliver a thoroughly entertaining experience that culminated in two encores: Rimsky-Korsakov’s virtuoso Flight of the Bumblebee and Shostakovich’s ‘Polka’ from The Golden Age Suite. Simonov displayed a flamboyant enthusiasm throughout that left the audience in raptures.

Gary O’Shea, Classical Sheffield

Moscow Philharmonic, Bristol Colston Hall

May 2014

Conductor Yuri Simonov who, for all the fact that he uses many gestures that cannot be found in the conductor's manual, was inspirational in the way that he coaxed the very best out of this fine orchestra [...] Between them, conductor and orchestra explored every nuance within the scores of these very differing symphonies.

Gerry Parker, Bristol Post

Moscow Philharmonic, Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham

May 2014

Russian orchestras bring a degree of passion and a richness of colour that is somehow completely their own. In Thursday night's programme the Moscow Philharmonic delivered three sharply contrasting pieces which allowed them to project the Russian musical soul with sharp focus and a no-holds-barred approach to raw emotion.
This epic, Technicolor approach took the audience by the throat in the opening piece: Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini in which big melodies were built into richly emotional climaxes with accompanying whirlwinds of sound generated by the opulent strings.
Rachmaninov's 3rd is the least performed of his symphonies[...]Conductor Yuri Simonov coaxed an openhearted yet decidedly un-schmaltzy performance from his players, shaping melodies so that they seemed to take flight. Three generous encores followed which, not surprisingly, brought the audience cheering to their feet.

William Ruff, Nottingham Post

Moscow Philharmonic, Birmingham Symphony Hall

May 2014

Simonov led a determined account, expansive and with sweep, not entirely personal, but it sounded glorious. The conclusion to the first movement was viciously doom-laden, which gave the second movement's calmness a heart-skipping contrast. The pizzicato scherzo was on the slow side, although the scoring shone with brilliance. The Symphony concluded triumphantly, and proved a great showcase for the Moscow Philharmonic, clearly enjoying its rapport with Simonov[...]There were five encores! Then, glancing at his watch, Simonov decided that there was still time for Dvořák’s Tenth and Eighth Slavonic Dances: the former swooned as salon music, conductor having a ball; the latter very fast and executed with gusto.

Peter Marks, Bachtrack

There was something in the air for this opening event of the orchestra’s 18-concert tour. The audience just wanted more and more, and the musicians under the genial baton of Yuri Simonov were happy to deliver the goods [...] as a concept this interpretation was shattering.

Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post

Like a good many Russian orchestras, it retains a distinctively Soviet sound albeit with some of the harder edges smoothed out slightly. The portentous opening to Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini featured an upbeat from a particularly full-throated double bass section, highly responsive to Simonov’s gestures. The conductor adopted a statuesque posture throughout Tchaikovsky’s symphonic poem, somehow managing to summon terrifying blasts of sound in climactic moments with only discreet, staccato movements. In this respect, Dante’s Inferno was spectacularly and vividly conjured by Simonov and the orchestra. The finale was impressively dispatched and Simonov, more effectively than others, avoided any hint of episodism by not allowing the pauses between sections to linger.

Peter Marks, Bachtrack

Moscow Philharmonic, St David’s Hall, Cardiff

May 2014

Yuri Simonov and his Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra were accorded a warm welcome at St David’s Hall. The second half comprised extracts (selected by Mr Simonov) of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty. While piecemeal in construction, it worked remarkably well. The performance was witty and compelling, and was followed by not one, nor two, but three encores.
It would be wrong to say the orchestra handled this repertoire so masterfully because of any innate Russianness. It does them far more justice to say they played extremely well because they’re extremely good musicians.

David Owens, Wales Online

Moscow Philharmonic, Belfast St. Brides Hall

October 2011

The conductor was Yuri Simonov, whose work in the Rachmaninov ensured strong ensemble playing and sympathetic interpretation[...] It was terrific to hear the Mussorgsky played by a large orchestra, steeped in the tradition from which the work emerged.

Andrea Rea, Studio Symphony

Moscow Philharmonic, Usher Hall Edinburgh

October 2011

As they started to play some excerpts from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet he at first appeared very regimental as he took full control of his players. But a gentler side started to emerge and by the end of the concert he was thoroughly enjoying himself demonstrating that he might be 70 this year but remains remarkably sprightly. By the end the audience was on its feet with well deserved applause.

Barnaby Miln, The Edinburgh Guide

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