Benjamin Zander The English Conductor Music And Life

Indeed, Benjamin Zander is a blessing to the world of music. A classical musician with exceptional skill in score study and interpretation. Benjamin Zander is a conductor with an English origin. He was born in Gerrards Cross, Bucking Hampshire city in England on March 9th, 1939. Of course, he possesses the capability to find the direct path and most truthful interpretation to every stage of the music. Nothing has ever remained the same with him from one performance to the other. With him, always expecting something you don’t imagine in terms of beautiful conducting and musical interpretation.

Journey into Music

Actually, Benjamin displayed noteworthy musical gifts in his early childhood that started writing music at the age of nine. Though we could trace his musical genius to his father who always sings and play the piano at home after work. But Benjamin was known for the cello and his proliferate dexterity on cello was exceptional. In the long run, Benjamin Britten noticed his talent and invited him and his family to the town he lived in. There Benjamin started music theory lesson with Benjamin Britten and Imogen Holst, his assistant, and daughter of composer Gustav Holst.


At age of ten, the young Benjamin has started studying. He joined the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain when he was twelve years old. He was the youngest member of the Orchestra.  When Benjamin was thirteen, he went to Uppingham School as a music scholar. Thereafter, he joins London’s St. Paul’s School to continue his study with Herbert Withers on cello. 

The Boston Philharmonic conductor
Benjamin Zander in the front role source

Zander left school when he was fifteen years to honour the invitation of the Spanish cello virtuoso Gaspar Cassadó. He moved from England to Florence in Italy and Cassadó became his tutor and mentor for the following five years. Zander finished his study and training on cello at the State Academy in Cologne, Germany. There he was the assistant to Gaspar Cassadó. With Cassadó, he traveled across Europe extensively and performed recitals and chamber music. Above all, he added many highly successful concerts to his musical profile.


Eventually, he decided to return to England where he got A-levels and enrolled for a degree program at University College London. He studied English Literature at the University and won the University College English Literature Essay Prize in1964. Also in 1965, he won a Harkness Commonwealth Fellowship for postgraduate work at Harvard. He then left England for the USA for the graduate work at New York with Leonard Shure and Ernst Oster at Brandeis and Harvard University.


Benjamin Zander really has a brilliant and successful career that any musician could be praying for. He began home life at Boston since his study in America. In the1967, he started teaching interpretation class at the New England Conservatory NEC. Afterward, he assumed the post of conductor of the New England Conservatory Youth Philharmonic Orchestra five years later.

The iconic musician took NEC Youth Philharmonic orchestra on over a dozen international tours, achieved five commercial recordings, and several PBS documentaries. Apart from his engagement with the New England Conservatory of Music, Zander also instilled knowledge in gifted students at the famous Walnut Hill School.

Boston Philharmonic
Benjamin Zander and Boston Philharmonic – Image Source

However, when the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1979, Zander was named as the director of music. He directed the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra for fifteen years in obscurity. However, they later gained attention in the concert hall and also in the recording.

Zander’s comprehensive repertoire with Boston Philharmonic Orchestra includes attention on late Romantic and early 20th-century composers, especially the symphonies of Gustav Mahler, whose work he has become a dignitary interpreter. In particular, Zander was able to release five critically renowned recordings of works by Stravinsky, Beethoven, Mahler, Shostakovich, and Ravel with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra.


In terms of achievement, Benjamin Zander did well both in concert hall and recording. In fact, the recording of the Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring he did with the Boston Philharmonic received an award from the Classic CD Magazine. Also, the recording hit the top ranking among the available recordings of the piece. Likewise, the Symphony No. 6 of Mahler.

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Furthermore, Benjamin and Boston Philharmonic received a great accolade for the performance of the enormous Gustav Mahler Eighth Symphony. The one of 1998/1999 at Symphony Hall in Boston and that of 2000 at Carnegie Hall in New York. To his achievement is also the (virtually) completion of the all-Mahler season which consists of a concert of Mahler’s Second Symphony. The performance to commemorate the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra’s 25th Anniversary in 2003/2004 season in Carnegie Hall.

Benjamin Zander leading the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, which he founded in 1979.
Benjamin Zander leading the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, which he founded in 1979. Image Source

Zander really recorded success with Mahler symphonies with the Boston Philharmonic both in recording and concert hall performance. However, he moved to a cycle of Beethoven symphonies around 1998 with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Telarc Records. Besides, Zander has worked with a handful of record labels which include CPL, Carlton Classics, and Telarc.

Specifically, most of Benjamin Zander’s achievement was with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. The group he has spent half of his life to lead. In fact, Zander was able to release five critically renowned recordings of works by Stravinsky, Beethoven, Mahler, Shostakovich, and Ravel with them.


Dr. Zander is a phenomenal musician that has notable awards and honour in his career. One of many awards and honour he has is an Emmy nomination for conducting A New World of Music. He also received the “Crystal Award” at the 1999 World Economic Forum in Davos in acknowledgment of his “outstanding contributions in the Arts and international relations”.

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Leeds Metropolitan University Awarded Zander an Honorary Doctorate on the 19th of July 2006. Also, in the year 2009, Zander received an honorary doctorate award from the New England Conservatory of Music. The award was to honour him on his 70th birthday, and 45 years of teaching. Likewise, in the year 2012, the same institution honoured him with the Faculty Emeritus award. 

Furthermore, at the ABSA Achievement Awards in Johannesburg, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award in acknowledgment of his input in the field of Music, Leadership, and Culture.

Benjamin Zander and BPO
Benjamin Zander and BPO – Image Source

It is noteworthy that the recording of the Mahler Ninth Symphony Zander did with the Philharmonia Orchestra got him nominated for the Grammy Award 2000 in the “Best Orchestral Performance” category. Also, in 2010, the Bruckner’s 5th Symphony he did with the London Philharmonia was also nominated for a Grammy Award. Besides, in the year 2014, Mahler’s 2nd Symphony he did the Philharmonia Orchestra was on the nomination list for the same award.

Personal Life

Specifically, Zander has been married twice in his lifetime. He married his first wife, Patricia Zander, in the year1966 and they were blessed with a daughter named Jessica. He later married his wife Rosamund Stone Zander who is a noted psychotherapist in 1981.

In March of 2009, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from New England Conservatory of Music, and in 2012 he was awarded Faculty Emeritus status at that institution. In 2019, Zander was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the ABSA Achievement Awards in Johannesburg in recognition of his contributions in the spheres of Music, Culture and Leadership.

Benjamin Zander with Violinist Stefan Jackiw and the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra
Benjamin Zander with Violinist Stefan Jackiw and the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra – Image Source


> Symphony no. 9 by NEC Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and Benjamin Zander

> Benjamin Zander Lecture on classical music

> Work, how to give an A -Benjamin Zander

> SCHOENBERG Five Pieces for Orchestra, IV PeripetiaZander Conducts

> Benjamin Zander the conductor 

Life Of Benjamin Zander in Brief
Life of Benjamin Zander in brief

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