Born in the Caucasus city of Nal’chik, Yuri Temirkanov began his musical studies at the age of nine. When he was thirteen, he attended the Leningrad School for Talented Children where he continued his studies in violin and viola. Upon graduation, he attended the Leningrad Conservatory where he completed his studies in viola and later returned to study conducting, graduating in 1965. After winning the prestigious All-Soviet National Conducting Competition in 1966, Yuri Temirkanov was invited by Kirill Kondrashin to tour Europe and the United States with legendary violinist David Oistrakh and the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra.
Yuri Temirkanov made his debut with the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra (formerly the Leningrad Philharmonic) in early 1967 and was then invited to join the orchestra as Assistant Conductor to Yevgeny Mravinsky. In 1968, he was appointed Principal Conductor of the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra where he remained until his appointment as Music Director of the Kirov Opera and Ballet (now the Mariinsky Theatre) in 1976. He remained in this position until 1988 and his productions of Eugene Onegin and Queen of Spades have become legendary in the theatre’s history.
Maestro Temirkanov has appeared with leading European orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Dresden Staatskapelle, London Philharmonic, London Symphony, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Rome and La Scala, Milan and others.
After making his London debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1977, he was appointed Principal Guest Conductor, and then in 1992 named Principal Conductor, a position he held until 1998. From 1992 to 1997 he was also the Principal Guest Conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra and from 1998 to 2008 Principal Guest Conductor of the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra. A regular visitor to the USA, he conducts the major orchestras of New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. He was the Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra from 2000 till 2006, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Bolshoi Theatre until 2009. In 2010 – 2012, he was Music Director of Teatro Regio di Parma.
His numerous recordings include collaborations with the St Petersburg Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestras, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with whom he recorded the complete Stravinsky ballets and Tchaikovsky symphonies.
For twelve days over the Christmas holiday, Maestro Temirkanov hosts the annual International Winter Festival Arts Square in St Petersburg, Russia. Unique in its concept, the festival gathers artists of the highest caliber, confirming the status of St. Petersburg as one of the cultural capitals of Europe. The 15th festival in December 2014 featured Jonas Kaufmann, Ian Bostridge, Olga Peretyatko and Christian Blackshaw, among others.
Maestro Temirkanov has received many distinguished awards in Russia. He has been awarded the Order “For Merit for the Country” of all the four degrees (1998, 2003, 2008, 2013). In 2003 and 2007, he received the Abbiati Prize for Best Conductor, and in 2003 was named Conductor of the Year in Italy. Recently, he was made an Honorary Academician of Santa Cecilia. In 2012 he was awarded “The Commander of the Order of the Star of Italy”, in 2014 the Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli Prize, and in 2015 the “Order of the Rising Sun” (Japan) and “Una vita nella musica” Prize (Italy). In November 2015, Yuri Temirkanov was made the Honorary Conductor of the Academia Santa Cecilia Choir and Orchestra.