Yuri Ahronovitch

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Russian-born Israeli conductor Yuri Akhronovich, whose last name was often transliterated without the K, was known for the clarity and energy of his performances. He never developed a strong reputation…
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Russian-born Israeli conductor Yuri Akhronovich, whose last name was often transliterated without the K, was known for the clarity and energy of his performances. He never developed a strong reputation in the United States, although he was well respected in Europe and Israel. Akhronovich received solid training from Kurt Sanderling and Natan Rakhlin at the Leningrad Conservatory, from which he graduated in 1954. Two years later, he was appointed conductor of the Saratov Philharmonic Orchestra; he taught at that city's conservatory and conducted his first operas there, but almost immediately -- in 1957 -- he moved on to the Yaroslav Symphony Orchestra. He remained with that ensemble until 1964, when he was named chief conductor of the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra. During the next eight years, he steadily conducted in Moscow, including guest appearances with the Bolshoi Ballet. In 1972, however, Akhronovich turned dissident, emigrated to Israel, and became a naturalized citizen, never to return to the Soviet Union or its successor states. Even before arriving in Israel, Akhronovich had established a personal, lifelong ban on performances of Wagner, whom he considered to be a virulent anti-Semite. Akhronovich initially gave several concerts with the Israel Philharmonic, then toured Europe and the United States, appearing with such orchestras as the New York Philharmonic and London's Royal Philharmonic. He became music director of the G├╝rzenich-Orchester in Cologne in 1975, remaining in that post conducting operas and symphonic concerts until 1986. He retained a home in Cologne, as well as in Jerusalem, until the end of his life, although he also doubled as chief conductor of the Stockholm Philharmonic from 1982 to 1987. After that, he worked as a touring guest conductor until his death from a pulmonary infection at age 70.