Justus Frantz, Son of Righteous Gentiles, to Run Israel Sinfonietta

Justus Frantz, Son of Righteous Gentiles, to Run Israel Sinfonietta

The conductor and pianist Justus Frantz has been named the new music director of the Israel Sinfonietta, to take up his post in September 2013. He succeeds the outgoing Doron Salomon, who has been in the position since 2005 and has just led the orchestra through its 40th anniversary season.
In a nice turn of history, the Beersheba-based orchestra's new boss is the son of parents who were "Righteous Among the Nations," or "Righteous Gentiles"--the name given to non-Jews who helped save the lives of Jews during the Holocaust. Frantz is from a Polish family who were part of that country's underground resistance against the Nazis. The Righteous Gentiles are honored at Israel's Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem.

Born in 1944, post-war Frantz studied in Germany with Wilhelm Kempff. Later breakthroughs included his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Herbert von Karajan in 1970 and, five years after that, with the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein. Work with many orchestras followed, and other great musicians with whom he has collaborated include Carlo Maria Giulini, Rudolf Kempe and Christoph Eschenbach. In 1986, he founded and directed Germany's Schleswig-Holstein Festival. Another new venture followed in 1995, when he founded the Philharmonic of the Nations. He is known to take great pride in discovering and nurturing young talent.

Frantz takes over the orchestra from Salomon, whose tenure was generally well-respected. Salomon, perhaps above all, created an innovative program linked to the local university that helped to embed the large Beersheva student population into the city's orchestral life. But he also brought a tradition of mixing the tried and tested classics with more adventurous fare, including South American music and some notable musical marathons--such as last season's full Beethoven symphony cycle performed across only four days.

Frantz appeared with the orchestra in 2012, giving a Mozart concert. He will launch the 2013-14 season with Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 and Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 2.