Slatkin to replace Rostropovich as director of NSO

March 29, 1994|By Stephen Wigler | Stephen Wigler,Sun Music Critic

Leonard Slatkin was named yesterday as the new music director of Washington's National Symphony Orchestra, replacing Mstislav Rostropovich, whose resignation as the National's music director becomes effective at the end of the current season.

Slatkin joins the NSO next season as its music director-designate, taking on full duties as music director at the end of the 1995-96 season, when his current term as music director of the St. Louis Symphony expires.

Slatkin had been a prominent candidate to succeed Rostropovich since the Russian-born cellist-conductor announced his resignation two years ago. It was scarcely a secret the Kennedy Center, which runs the NSO, wanted to hire an American-born music director with a wider repertory than Rostropovich, and better skills in refining the way an orchestra plays.

Slatkin fit the bill almost perfectly. His 15-year tenure with the St. Louis Symphony had not only turned it into one of the better orchestras in the country, but one of the best at performing new music by American composers.

Slatkin became interested in the NSO position when -- after European conductors were named to bigger positions at the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony and the Philadelphia Orchestra -- it was apparent that he was not currently in line for a job at one of the "big five" orchestras (the others are the Cleveland Orchestra and the Boston Symphony).

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