Sixten Ehrling (1918-2005) was a great Swedish conductor who succeeded Paul Paray as musical director of the Detroit Symphony in 1963. His tenure lasted ten years. Hyper-sensitive, he could exhort his musicians to surpass themselves and reach the highest musical peaks. Unfortunately he was also irascible, and could become pathologically demanding. Istomin was helpless to prevent the collapse of Ehrling’s career when his alcohol addiction discouraged the management of the Detroit Symphony from renewing his contract.

Sixten Ehrling overcame this difficult time and pursued his way as a guest conductor, mainly in the United States and in his native Sweden. Istomin, who gave more than twenty concerts under him, held him in the highest esteem and remained his lifelong loyal friend. When the Juilliard School decided to dismiss Ehrling, though he had already trained a generation of brilliant young conductors, Istomin asked his wife, Marta, to engage him at the Manhattan School of Music as permanent conductor of the student orchestra. Yet again, his difficult personality surfaced, terrifying the young musicians by his fits of rage.


1962, January 9, 10 & 11. Chicago Symphony Hall. Brahms, Concerto No. 2. Chicago Symphony.

1964, July 14. Ravinia. Beethoven, Concerto No. 4. Chicago Symphony.

1965, August 3. Hollywood Bowl. Beethoven, Concerto No. 3 & Triple Concerto (with Stern and Rose). Los Angeles Philharmonic.

1966, July 22 & 28. Meadow Brooke. Brahms, Concerto No. 2. Detroit Symphony.

1966, July 31 & August 6. Meadow Brooke. Beethoven, Concerto No. 4. Detroit Symphony.

1966, August 7. Meadow Brooke. Beethoven, Triple Concerto (with Stern and Rose). Detroit Symphony.

1969, January 2 & 4. Ford Auditorium. Beethoven, Concerto No. 4. Detroit Symphony. Recorded concert.

1972, July 13. Meadow Brooke. Mozart, Concerto No. 9 K. 271. Szymanowski, Symphonie Concertante. Detroit Symphony.

1972 July 15. Meadow Brooke. Beethoven, Concerto No. 4. Detroit Symphony.

1978, July 20 & 22. Meadow Brooke. Beethoven, Concerto No. 3. Detroit Symphony. Recorded concert.

1987, July 25. Mann Center. Beethoven, Concerto No. 4. Philadelphia Orchestra. Recorded concert.


Beethoven, Concerto No. 4 in G major Op. 58, first movement. Eugene Istomin, Philadelphia Orchestra, Sixten Ehrling. July 25, 1987