George Pehlivanian


French-American conductor, born in Beirut, into a musical family. George Pehlivanian’s path in music began with piano and violin lessons at the age of three and six respectively.  In 1975, Pehilvanian and his family emigrated to Los Angeles and went on to study conducting with Pierre Boulez, Lorin Maazel and Ferdinand Leitner. He also spent two summers at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena where he was awarded the Diploma di Merito.

In 1991 Mr. Pehlivanian was crowned unanimously by the International  Jury, with the Grand Prize of the Besançon International Conducting Competition. Till today, Pehlivanian remains the First and ONLY American to receive this honor in the long history of one of the most respected and prestigious competitions in the world of conducting for the past seven decades.


Since then Maestro Pehlivanian has consolidated his reputation as one of the leading conductors of his generation. On the concert-platform he has led many of the world’s leading orchestras including the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philharmonia, Israel Philharmonic, Filarmonica della Scala, Leipzig Gewandhaus Leipzig, NDR Hamburg , Orchestra of the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Orchestra dell’Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Monte-Carlo Philharmonic, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Orchestra Nazionale della RAI Torino, the BBC Philharmonic, Bamberger Symphoniker, the Czech Philharmonic, the Norddeutsche, Hessische and Südwetsdeutsche Runfunk Symphony Orchestras, Saarländisches Staatsorchester, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Orquesta Nacional de España, Nationaal Orkest van België, Orchestra del Teatro di San Carlo, Orquesta Radio Television de España, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and many others.

In North America he has conducted the Houston, Montreal, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Paul, Buffalo, Rochester, Honolulu, Puerto Rico, Vancouver, Ottawa, Quebec, Toronto and the Pacific Symphony Orchestras. He has also worked with the Russian National Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic, Mariinsky Theater Orchestra, Sydney Symphony, Japan Virtuoso Symphony, Malaysian Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Qatar Philharmonic, Quingdao and Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestras. In Winter of 2017 Maestro Pehlivanian made history as the first conductor of Armenian descent to conduct the Presidential Symphony Orchestra of Ankara.

Equally at home in the Operatic World as in the Symphonic, Mr. Pehlivanian has conducted leading opera companies of both Europe and the United States, including performances of CARMEN for the Long Beach Opera, California, JENUFA, BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, and ERNANI for the New Israeli Opera, LA TRAVIATA at the Mariinsky, St. Petersburg, TOSCA at Grand Theatre de Bordeaux and St. Etienne, the Dutch premiere of RIDERS TO THE SEA in Rotterdam, LA VOIX HUMAINE at the Cite de la Musique, Paris, OTELLO, CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA and GIANNI SCHICCHI at Teatro San Carlo di Napoli, PIQUE DAME and ANDREA CHENIER at the Teatro Lirico, Cagliari, LE DAMNATION DE FAUST at Teatro San Carlo, Napoli and Teatro Regio, Parma, the world premieres of LE JOUR DES MEURTRES by Pierre Thilloy for l’Opéra-Théâtre de Metz and SETTE STORIE PER LASCIARE IL MONDO by Marco Betta as well as a critically acclaimed new production of BORIS GODUNOV for Teatro Massimo di Palermo.

In 2011 George Pehlivanian founded the Touquet International Music Masters in France, a unique festival assembling the National Youth Orchestras of Europe. Since 2012, Maestro Pehlivanian has been a Professor at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris (CNSMDP) and since 2013 has taught conducting at the Higher School of Music Education ‘Katarina Gurska’ in Madrid.


He has collaborated with the Best. Some of the renowned artists include : Maxim Vengerov, Leonidas Kavakos, Vadim Repim, Sarah Chang, Joshua Bell, Janine Jansen, Misha Maisky, Gidon Kremer, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Gil Shaham, Arcadi Volodos, Emmanuel Ax, Lynn Harrell, Maurice Andre, Evelyn Glennie, Andre Watts, Mirella Freni, Ruggero Raimondi, Dimitri Hvorostovsky, Ferrucio Furlanetto, Leona Mitchell, Leo Nucci, Denyce Graves, Vladimir Galuzin, Bernarda Fink, Marjana Lipovsek and countless more of the world’s highest calibre soloists/artists.

Maestro Pehlivanian was asked to become the Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Slovenian Philharmonic (2005-2008) and has held many Principal Guest Conductor positions with various orchestras, such as: Residentie Orkest of The Hague (1996-1999), Wiener Kammerorchester (1996-2000), Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz (2002-2012), Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, and the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestras.

He has appeared at many of the world’s most important International Music Festivals, including the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, White Nights of Saint Petersburg, Aix-en-Province, Mito Milan, Radio France de Montpellier, Jeunesse Musicale Vienna, Festival Bruckner of Linz, Verdi Festival di Parma, Rávena, Aspen, San Sebastien, Santander, Ravello, Madrid, Cannes MIDEM, El Escorial, Ljubljana, Granada, Osaka, and Kyoto.


His discography includes a double CD release on Virgin Classics/EMI with the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic, recordings for BMG with the London Philharmonic, the world premiere recording of music by Zhukov under CHANDOS with the Residentie Orchestra, works by Rodrigo with the Orquesta Nacional de España STUDIO SM, as well as Liszt’s complete works for piano and orchestra with Louis Lortie and the Residentie Orchestra for Chandos. This recording received special praise by Gramophone Magazine.

Specialist in interpreting today’s music, Maestro Pehlivanian’s latest CD release of Christian Jost music for Coviello ,was received with great enthusiasm.  Next release due under the label IBS Classical, is for Fall 2017, will be the legendary ‘Leningrad’ Symphony of Shostakovich, with one of his favorite National Young Professional Orchestras in the world, the JONDE, otherwise known as the ‘Joven Orquesta Nacional de España’ , which he has regularly conducted on European Tours for the past almost 15 years already.


Upcoming concerts

vr 15.10.21 20:00

Festival van Zeeuwsch-Vlaanderen

George Pehlivanian, dirigent

Lucas Debargue, piano

Emma Posman, sopraan