His own orchestra - Thomas Schippers

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His own orchestra

As Tommy had been assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic for several years, he was considered the most likely candidate to inherit Leonard Bernstein’s position when he left the direction of that orchestra. In fact, in May 1969 Leonard Bernstein was scheduled to retire after having been director of the NYP for twenty years. Tommy, now thirty-nine, was effectively number two at the NYP and was considered by some to be Bernstein’s heir apparent. But it did not turn out that way. Other conductors, including Claudio Abbado, were considered for the position, but the directorship was given to Pierre Boulez.
Tommy with Leonard Bernstein
Not having been appointed to the position of Music Director of the NYP, Tommy was invited to become Music Director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra even though he had never conducted it and had never even seen it. It was, in any case, an extremely rare occurrence for a conductor to be appointed Music Director of an important orchestra without ever having conducted it. He began his tenure there in 1970 succeeding Max Rudolph. Together with his appointment as Music Director, Tommy was also given the position of distinguished professor of music, and gave his first master class in conducting at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music in1972. It was difficult for him to find time for teaching but he considered it an important matter as he had had to learn conducting practically without instruction. Having the permanent position of conductor was something he had wanted to achieve for some time. He remained Music Director there until his death but did continue to conduct in many different venues, such as the Metropolitan Opera, the Spoleto Festival, the Teatro Comunale of Florence, La Scala of Milan and others, concurrently with his position in Cincinnati.
With his orchestra in Music Hall in Cincinnati
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