The Kennedy Center

Osmo Vänskä


Hailed as "exacting and exuberant" (The New York Times), Osmo Vänskä is recognized for his compelling interpretations of the standard, contemporary and Nordic repertoires. Music Director of the Minnesota Orchestra between 2003 and 2013, Vänskä is internationally in demand as a guest conductor and has received extraordinary acclaim for his work with many of the world's leading orchestras, including the Boston and Chicago symphony orchestras, The Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra. He has also developed regular relationships with the Mostly Mozart Festival (New York) and the BBC Proms.

The 2013/14 season brings performances with the San Francisco Symphony, The Cleveland Orchestra, Washington's National Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony, Wiener Symphoniker, Bamberger Symphoniker, Orchestre National de Lyon, Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia, Lahti Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and Singapore Symphony.

Recording for BIS, Vänskä gained distinction as a recording artist with his landmark Sibelius cycle with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, described by Gramophone as "the finest survey of the past three decades." In 2014, his recording with the Minnesota Orchestra of Sibelius' Symphonies Nos.1 and 4 won a Grammy award - following the nomination of the Second and Fifth Symphonies the year before. A further Minnesota Orchestra record - the second featuring Beethoven's Piano Concertos with Yevgeny Sudbin - was also released in 2013. 

Formerly Principal Conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, Chief Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Vänskä studied conducting at Finland's Sibelius Academy and was awarded first prize in the 1982 Besançon International Young Conductor's Competition. He began his professional music career as a clarinetist, holding the co-principal chair of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and the principal chair of the Turku Philharmonic, and in recent years has enjoyed a return to the clarinet, including on a recent recording of Kalevi Aho's chamber works.

Vänskä is the recipient of a Royal Philharmonic Society Award, Musical America's 2005 Conductor of the Year award, and the Arts and Letters award from the Finlandia Foundation. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Glasgow and the University of Minnesota, as well as the 2010 Ditson Award from Columbia University for his support of American music. In 2013 he received the Annual Award from the German Record Critics' Award Association for his extensive involvement in BIS's project to record the complete works of Sibelius.

Osmo Vänskä