Esa-Pekka Salonen Named San Francisco Symphony Music Director

Esa-Pekka Salonen
AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File

Esa-Pekka Salonen arrives at the premiere of "The Soloist" in Los Angeles on April 20, 2009.

Esa-Pekka Salonen will become music director of the San Francisco Symphony starting with the 2020-21 season. He will succeed Michael Tilson Thomas, who ends his 25-year tenure following the 2019-20 season.

Salonen, a 60-year-old Finn who also composes, was given the immediate title of music director designate, the orchestra said Wednesday (Dec. 5). He has a five-year contract as music director, will lead six subscription weeks and an Asia tour in his first season, then will conduct 12-to-14 weeks annually.

Salonen was principal conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1984-95 and music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1992-2009. He has been principal conductor and artistic adviser for London’s Philharmonia since 2008-09, a role that orchestra said Monday will end following the 2020-21 season.