The Russian conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky has died at the age of 87. A conductor of diverse tastes, he recorded close to 800 works over his long career, and was a particular champion of the composers Alfred Schnittke and Sofia Gubaidulina. He is also widely credited for reviving Shostakovich’s first opera The Noseduring his time as Music Director of the Moscow Chamber Music Theatre.

Gennady Rozhdestvensky

Known as something of a maverick, his podium style was individualistic – Rozhdestvensky often favoured exaggerated facial expressions over the baton or hand gesture. Though largely considered an affable man by orchestra and audience members, he could be spiky – the conductor once withdrew from a series of concerts with the Boston Symphony Orchestra after realising that promotional posters had his name in smaller type than the soloist, cellist Lynn Harrell. “I feel not only slighted, but I suffered what is called in Russian a moral insult,” he said.

Born in Moscow on May 4, 1931, his father, Nikolai Anosov, was a prominent conductor, while his mother Natalia Rozhdestvenskaya was a singer. He adopted his mother’s maiden name in the masculine form at the outset of his career,...