conducting the orchestra world

a terrible loss

Yakov Kreizberg - Photo: Marco Borgreve

“Music allows us to really find our inner self, to be free to search for those things that we normally don’t have the opportunity or the time to search for. It opens up many, many doors within us. It opens the doors to our soul, to our feelings, to humanity as a whole.” – Yakov Kreizberg

I just learned that the wonderful conductor Yakov Kreizberg, has passed away at his home in Monaco. News reports only say that he’d had a “long illness”, which seems to be code these days for some variety of cancer. He was only 51 years old.

I’m so saddened by this, because he was one of the best conductors that we’ve worked with here at the Oregon Symphony. He was very much a personality of the Old World, patrician and soft spoken, but also very much a mensch, and beloved of most everyone who worked under him. The performances we did of Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra, Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony and Mahler’s First Symphony will forever be etched in my mind as defining musical experiences.

I had somewhat of a second-hand personal connection with Yakov (as he was known to everyone), several friends of mine went to the Berkshire (now Tanglewood) Music Center with him when he was a conducting fellow, and had told me many funny stories of his time with them there. They came down to visit us when he was conducting in Portland, and there was a wonderful mini-renunion, filled with warmth and reminiscences.

I’m just so terribly sad about the loss of Yakov – he was destined to be one of the greats, and he was struck down in mid-career – 51 is when conductors seem to have reached their stride and a level of maturity that adds depth to their work.

Rest in peace, Yakov. We’ll miss you.

New York Times obituary.
Obituary from The Australian.
Obituary from the Guardian newspaper.
Obituary from Nice Matin.
Obituary from Qobuz Magazine.
Obituary from the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Notice from his management, HarrisonParrott.
Notice from Norman Lebrecht.
David Stabler’s chronology of Kreizberg’s appearances with the Oregon Symphony.
Remembrance from former OSO president/current president of NEC, Tony Woodcock.
A remembrance from pianist Stephen Hough.
Notice from
Notice from Badischer Zeitung.
Notice from National Public Radio.
Collection of videos from Thousandfold Echo blog.
Yakov Kreizberg’s website.

Click to enlarge image.








By Charles Noble

I'm the Assistant principal violist of the Oregon Symphony.

4 replies on “a terrible loss”

I thought Kreizberg was outstanding and he was probably my favorite guest conductor. I was sorry the orchestra was unable to get him back after his mid-2000s appearances. This is certainly a great loss to classical music.

This is one of the very few colleagues whom I met several times. A kind person, always bursting with intensity, always emanating sympathy. A person whom I liked very much on a personal level.
But I also respected Yakov tremendously as a professional.
He was a very hard working individual, only accepted the highest standards and was capable of imposing his vision of music with admirable persistence. I saw him conduct Mahler 2 amongst other pieces, and I remembered the exact, focused yet intensely expressive rendering.

I will miss him very much.

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