Los Angeles Philharmonic music director Esa-Pekka Salonen will become principal conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London beginning next year but remain at the helm here, the London-based Guardian newspaper reported Friday.
Los Angeles Philharmonic spokesman Adam Crane declined to comment on the report but said the conductor had extended his contract with the orchestra.
"He will continue to have an ongoing relationship with the Los Angeles Philharmonic," Crane said. "We are announcing that he's extending the evergreen clause of his contract through 2009."
In London, Salonen will replace Christoph von Dohnanyi, who has been in the post since 1997, the Guardian said. Salonen, who is composing, could not be reached, Crane said. He added that Philharmonic Assn. President Deborah Borda was out of reach at a board retreat and that an official announcement from the Philharmonia Orchestra was expected next week.
Such dual appointments are not uncommon. Conductors Valery Gergiev, Daniel Barenboim and James Levine similarly have had joint or multiple appointments. Salonen also served as principal guest conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra (1985-1994) and principal conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony (1985-1995) after he was appointed music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1992.
Salonen's contract with the Philharmonic was set to expire at the end of 2006, but in February 2005 it was extended through 2008 with the option of an "evergreen clause" allowing further extensions.
At the time, Borda said that the evergreen clause was a standard one that would permit "renewal on an annual basis, with proper notification."
In recent years, Salonen has conducted the Philharmonic for 14 weeks of its 30-week season, with guest conductors filling in the other performances. A composer as well as conductor, Salonen was torn between the demands of the two professions.
"It's a continuous struggle," he said in 2005. "But I also realized that for me to deal with the composing issue is to curb my guest conducting, to concentrate on this, which is artistically the most fulfilling thing I do anyway, and just stay home."
Since Salonen became music director of the Philharmonic in 1992, Los Angeles has been home for his family: wife Jane, daughters Ella Aneira, 14, and Anja Sofia, 12, and son Oliver, 7. But he always maintained a special affection for the Philharmonia.
Salonen, who was born in Helsinki, Finland, in 1958, first came to international attention in 1983 when he stepped in as a last-minute substitute for Michael Tilson Thomas to conduct the Philharmonia in Mahler's Third Symphony, after learning the score in a matter of days.
The appointment is regarded as a coup for the Philharmonia, according to the Guardian.
"For the past 14 years Salonen has been with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, raising it to such a level that it is now regarded as America's top symphony orchestra," Guardian writer Martin Kettle said.
"The Philharmonia's coup in capturing Salonen -- whose services the New York Philharmonic had made little secret of wanting -- sets up the prospect of a new golden age for London's orchestras."