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David Zinman
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David Zinman

David Zinman (born New York, 10 July, 1936) is an American conductor.

After early violin studies at the Oberlin Conservatory, he studied theory and composition at the University of Minnesota and took up conducting at Tanglewood. He then worked in Maine with Monteux (1958–62), serving as his assistant from 1961 to 1964. Zinman was principal conductor of the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra from 1965 to 1977, music director of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra from 1974 to 1985 and chief conductor of the Rotterdam PO from 1979 to 1982.

After two years as principal guest conductor, Zinman was appointed music director of the Baltimore Symphonic Orchestra in 1985, a position he held until 1998. With that orchestra he made important recordings (including a series of Schumann symphonies and much American music) and transformed a regional ensemble into a leading American institution, his musical strengths complemented by an engaging manner, a deep commitment to music education and community relations, deft use of the media and self-deprecating humour (‘I am the Mel Brooks of the violin’, he once declared).

He has also appeared with leading orchestras and festivals in the USA, Canada and Europe. Zinman has given numerous premières at Baltimore and elsewhere, including works by Adams, Bolcom, Danielpour, Daugherty, Kernis, Kirchner, Rouse and Torke. His recording of Gorecki’s Symphony no.3 with the London Sinfonietta was an international bestseller. Zinman became music director of the Zürich Tonhalle Orchestra in 1995 and the following year was appointed music director of the Aspen Festival and received the Peabody Award from Johns Hopkins University.