Pavle Dešpalj, honorary conductor

Pavle Despalj, conductor(1934), one of the most prestigious Croatian conductors, has received his first lessons in piano, violin, composition and conduction from his father, composer and conductor, Šime Dešpalj, in Zadar. He graduated in composition from the Zagreb Academy of Music under Stjepan Šulek.

He became chief conductor of the Croatian Radio and Television Symphony (1962) and Chamber Orchestra (1963) and worked both with the Opera and Ballet of the Croatian National Theatre. In 1967 Pavle Dešpalj moved to the USA, where he was engaged as Music Director and conductor of the Symphony Orchestra and Opera in Orlando (Florida) and in 1972, as permanent chief conductor of the Grand Park Festival in Chicago. Having returned to Zagreb in 1980, he took the posts of the chief conductor of the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra and the Music Director of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. In 1987 he started to work as a full time professor of conducting at the Zagreb Academy of Music. Interpreting music of all époques and styles, Pavle Dešpalj appeared throughout Europe, in the USA, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan. He conducted the most reputable orchestras such as the Budapest Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic, the Salzburg Mozarteum, the Capitole de Toulouse and many others. The recipient of numerous awards, Pavle Dešpalj is a jury member of many international conducting competitions. He is a permanent guest conductor of both The Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra and a Tokyo Geidai Philharmonic Orchestra and also a guest professor at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.