Jon Tolansky

Jon Tolansky

Producer, Giving Thanks to Music, Maria Callas: The Enduring Icon, The Girl From Arles, and other Special Programs.

Formerly a principal in the Royal Opera House Orchestra, Jon Tolansky specialises in making documentary features on composers and performers for international radio and television organisations as well as global recording companies. These have included the BBC, RTE Lyric FM, the WFMT Radio Network, WQXR, the CBC, EMI Classics, Warner Classics, Decca Classics, Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft, SOMM Recordings, Andante, and VAI Records. He pioneered the first ever sets of documentary profiles on CD, for which he personally collaborated with acclaimed artists such as Grace Bumbry, José Carreras, José van Dam, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Mirella Freni, Nicolai Gedda, Valery Gergiev, Angela Gheorghiu, Carlo Maria Giulini, Thomas Hampson, Marilyn Horne,Yevgeni Kissin, Yehudi Menuhin, Sir Antonio Pappano, Luciano Pavarotti, Ruggero Raimondi, Mstislav Rostropovich, Giuseppe di Stefano, Dame Joan Sutherland, and Jon Vickers. For Warner Classics he initiated a new brand called the Autograph series, consisting of biographical overviews of acclaimed artists’ careers in themed compilations devised with their collaboration and also including exclusive new recordings of them discussing their lives and the music they have performed. Additionally, for Warner Classics, Universal Classics, and SOMM Recordings he has produced retrospective CD, DVD and podcast documentaries with new material he has originated on Claudio Abbado, Ernest Ansermet, Sir John Barbirolli, Sir Thomas Beecham, Eduard van Beinum, Benjamin Britten, Maria Callas, Guido Cantelli, Sergei Diaghilev, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Herbert von Karajan, Erich Kleiber, Carlos Kleiber, Otto Klemperer, Serge Koussevitzky, Gustav Mahler, Riccardo Muti, André Previn, Sir Georg Solti, Dmitri Shostakovich, Leopold Stokowski, Igor Stravinsky, Dame Joan Sutherland, George Szell, and Bruno Walter, and for Warner Classics he produced a retrospective documentary as part of the 24CD set celebrating the Philharmonia Orchestra’s 75th birthday.

Jon Tolansky has written on music and performers for the Oxford Companion to Music, Cambridge Guide to the Orchestra, Opera Magazine, Opera Now magazine, The Gramophone, Opera House (the magazine of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden), On Air (the magazine of the BBC World Service), Classical Music, Andante Magazine, Bambill (Brooklyn Academy of Music publication), Living Music (the magazine of the London Symphony Orchestra), Limelight (the magazine of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation), the Grand Théâtre de Genève, Classical Record Quarterly, Liner Notes Magazine, EMI Classics, Warner Classics, Decca Classics, Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft, and Signum Classics. He co-wrote the autobiography of the great baritone Peter Glossop with the artist, published in 2004, and he wrote the authorised life memoir of the great soprano Angela Gheorghiu in collaboration with the artist, published in 2018. He has assisted with the autobiographical book written by the acclaimed great conductor Sir Antonio Pappano, to be published in 2024.

Jon Tolansky has presented talks on music at Cambridge University, Stanford University, SUNY Oneonta, the Lincoln Centre, the Barbican Centre, the Royal Festival Hall, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Opera Holland Park, and Balik Farm Studios.

Jon Tolansky created the ‘Profile of the Artist’ events at the Barbican Centre, a series of public interviews with some of the most highly sought after performers. He organised these for the Music Performance Research Centre, now called Music Preserved, which he initiated and co-founded in1987 as a unique repository of mostly unduplicated live performance archive-recordings. He also initiated and hosted an historical series of recorded interviews with many dozens of major international performers for the Royal Opera House Archives (now called the Royal Opera House Collections) as part of the centenary commemorations of the death of Giuseppe Verdi in 2001.

Many of Jon Tolansky’s documentary profiles of opera singers are permanently housed for public listening in the ‘Singers on Singing’ archive that has been created specifically for his features within the website of the Hampsong Foundation – a not-for-profit platform for the support, proliferation, study and research of song and opera. For this facility he has also produced in depth features on the vocal music of Hector Berlioz, Claude Debussy, Richard Strauss, and Ralph Vaughan Williams.

In 2017, a BBC World Service feature ‘Out Of The Silence’ that Jon Tolansky initiated and produced about the humanitarian and author Sir Terry Waite in 2016 won the Interview Of The Year runner-up prize in the Sandford St Martin Awards.