American conductor Sir Gilbert Levine has led a distinguished international career, conducting great orchestras world-wide, and making history along the way. In North America he has conducted the major orchestras of Philadelphia, New York, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Minnesota, Montreal, Toronto and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, et al.
Hailed as “an outstanding figure in the world of international music television,” Sir Gilbert has led the U.S. television debuts of such world renowned European orchestras as the Staatskapelle Dresden, Royal Philharmonic, London Philharmonic and the Philharmonia Orchestra. Educated at Juilliard, Princeton and Yale, he served as assistant to Sir Georg Solti and Klaus Tennstedt. Maestro Levine first made international headlines when he was named Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Kraków Philharmonic in 1987, becoming the first American to head a major orchestra behind the Iron Curtain. He conducted that orchestra on tours to Europe, the Far East and the major concert halls of North America, including the Kennedy Center in 1993.
From 1988-2005, Levine created and conducted concerts for His Holiness Pope John Paul II, at the Vatican and around the world, including the historic Papal Concert to Commemorate the Holocaust (1994) and the Papal Concert of Reconciliation (2004). Their 17-year close artistic collaboration is detailed in Sir Gilbert’s memoir, “The Pope’s Maestro,” published by Wiley in the U.S. and the UK in 2010, and in the Pope’s home country of Poland in 2012.
For his artistic contributions to better understanding among people of all faiths, Gilbert Levine was invested by Pope John Paul II as a Knight-Commander of the Equestrian Order of Saint Gregory the Great, the highest Papal Knighthood accorded a non-ecclesiastical musician since Mozart. Pope Benedict XVI further recognized Levine’s work when he bestowed upon him the Silver Star of Saint Gregory, the highest Pontifical honor accorded a Jew in Vatican history.