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Yuri Ahronovitch studied as a child at the Central School of Music, a part of the Leningrad Conservatory. His education having been interrupted by World War II, he afterwards resumed his studies at the Leningrad Conservatory itself, where he was a conducting pupil of Kurt Sanderling and Nathan Rakhlin. After graduating he was appointed conductor of the Saratov Philharmonic Orchestra in 1956. Between 1964 and 1972 he worked as principal conductor of the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, a major appointment in Soviet Russia. He also made guest appearances throughout Russia, including at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

In 1972 Ahronovitch left Russia and emigrated to Israel, where he conducted the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He quickly launched into an international career, and soon appeared with significant organisations such as the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, where he conducted Boris Godunov with great success in 1974. In 1975 he succeeded Günther Wand as chief conductor of the Gürzenich Orchestra in Cologne, an appointment that he held until 1986. During the latter part of his career he was a frequent guest conductor in Italy, France, Germany and northern Europe, where between 1982 and 1987 he was chief conductor of the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. Ahronovitch’s repertoire frequently included less well-known works, especially from his home country.

Yuri Ahronovitch possessed a spontaneous and improvisatory conducting style that gave his interpretations a great sense of freedom. In this he showed the influence of one of his teachers, Rakhlin. His Russian recordings include vivid readings of Mussorgsky’s opera Sorochintsy Fair and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 1. Following his move to the West Ahronovitch recorded for several labels. His best-known recordings are the complete cycle of piano concertos by Rachmaninov, which he made with Tamás Vásáry as soloist and the London Symphony Orchestra. For the Swedish label BIS he recorded the Symphony No. 16 of Allan Pettersson and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, both with the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. For the Koch-Schwann Musica Mundi label, he conducted the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra in the two cello concertos of Anton Rubinstein, with Werner Thomas as soloist: music that reflected his interest in less familiar repertoire.

© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Patmore (A–Z of Conductors, Naxos 8.558087–90).

Role: Conductor 
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