Leon Botstein

Leon Botstein has been the president of Bard College since 1975, where he is also the Leon Levy Professor in the Arts and Humanities. Botstein’s 1997 book Jefferson’s Children: Education and the Promise of American Culture has provided the basis for acclaimed public high school education reforms in New York, Newark, and New Orleans. Botstein has also guided Bard’s innovative liberal arts BA program in New York state prisons, which is expanding into a national network. He is also the chairperson for the board of Central European University.

Botstein is music director and principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra and artistic co-director of the acclaimed SummerScape and Bard Music festivals. Botstein is also conductor laureate of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, where he served as music director from 2003 to 2011. He has produced numerous recordings of classical operas and works by composers such as Strauss, Bartók, Copland, and Shostakovich. Botstein is the editor of The Musical Quarterly, and has co-edited and written several books on music, culture, and European history. In 2011, Botstein gave the Tanner lectures at the University of California, Berkeley, on The History of Listening, forthcoming from Oxford Press.

Botstein’s work has been acknowledged with academic and arts awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Harvard University, the government of Austria, and the Carnegie Foundation. In 2012, he received the Leonard Bernstein Award for the Elevation of Music in Society and the University of Chicago’s Alumni Medal. Botstein holds an MA and a PhD in history from Harvard University, and was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2011.