Benjamin Zander started his early musical training, in his native England, with cello and composition lessons under the guidance of his father. When he was nine, Benjamin Britten, England’s leading composer, took an interest in his development and invited the family to spend three summers in Aldeburgh in Suffolk where he lived. This led to a long association with Britten and lessons in theory and composition from Britten’s close associate Imogen Holst, daughter of Gustav Holst.
He left school when he was fifteen, moving to Florence at the invitation of the great Spanish cello virtuoso, Gaspar Cassadó, who became his teacher and mentor for the next five years. He completed his cello training at the State Academy in Cologne, traveling extensively with Cassadó and performing recitals and chamber music.
In 1964 Benjamin Zander completed a degree at London University, winning the University College Essay Prize, and a Harkness Commonwealth Fellowship for post-graduate work at Harvard. Boston has been his home ever since.
In 1967 Mr. Zander joined the Faculty of the New England Conservatory, where he teaches the Interpretation Class, conducts the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and regularly conducts the conservatory orchestras. Twenty years ago he became the Artistic Director of the joint program between NEC and Walnut Hill, a boarding high school for the Performing Arts in Natick, Mass.
During his thirty-two year tenure as conductor of the New England Conservatory Youth Philharmonic he has taken the orchestra on twelve international tours, made five commercial recordings and several PBS documentaries.
In 1979, he became the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. In their seasons together they have performed an extensive repertoire, with an emphasis on late Romantic and early Twentieth Century composers, especially the symphonies of Gustav Mahler. To celebrate the orchestra’s 25th Anniversary in 2003-2004, the BPO completed an all-Mahler season, including a concert of Mahler’s Second Symphony in Carnegie Hall.
Benjamin Zander has established an international reputation as a guest conductor. He has a unique relationship with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London. He is recording with them a series of Beethoven and Mahler symphonies for the Telarc label. Beethoven’s Fifth and Seventh symphonies, and Mahler’s symphonies 3, 4, 5, 6, and 9 have been released thus far. Each of his recordings includes a full-length discussion disc in which he explains the music. High Fidelity named his recording of Mahler 6th as the best classical recording of 2002. His recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 was awarded the 2004 Critic’s Choice by the German Record Critic’s Award Association, and his recording of Mahler’s 9th Symphony was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Benjamin Zander has an extensive speaking career, traveling the world lecturing to organizations on leadership. He has appeared four times as a keynote speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he was presented with the Crystal award for “outstanding contributions in the Arts and international relations”. The best-selling book, The Art of Possibility, co-authored with his partner, leading psychotherapist Rosamund Zander, has been translated into fifteen languages.
Mr. Zander was awarded the 2002 “Caring Citizen of the Humanities” Award by the International Council for Caring Communities at the United Nations.