Koussevitzky, Serge

Koussevitzky, Serge (Sergei Aleksandrovich Koussevitzky)sĕrzh ko͞osəvĭt´skē; Rus. syĭrgā´ əlyĭksän´drəvĭch ko͝osyĭvēt´skē [key], 1874–1951, Russian-American conductor, studied in Moscow. He began his career as a double bass player. In 1908 he made his debut as a conductor in Berlin. In 1910 he and his wife, Natalie, formed an orchestra that Koussevitzky conducted until 1918. In 1917 he was made conductor of the State Symphony Orchestra in Petrograd. Leaving Soviet Russia (1920), he stayed mainly in Paris until coming to the United States in 1924, becoming a citizen in 1941. He was conductor (1924–49) of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and also directed (from 1936) the Berkshire Symphonic Festivals, today known as the Tanglewood Music Festival. A champion of new music and the first important maestro to emphasize modern American music, he created (1942) the Koussevitzky Foundation to commission and perform new works by American composers.

See biographies by M. Smith (1947) and A. Lourié (1931, repr. 1969); study by H. Leichtentritt (1946).

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