Michael Tilson Thomas conducted the San Francisco Symphony in Beethoven’s Ninth last week at Davies Symphony Hall. The musicians wore blue-rimmed glasses in honor of their former music director’s distinctive eyewear. Photo by Stefan Cohen.

In Friday’s (10/20) San Francisco Chronicle, Joshua Kosman writes, “In his first concert as music director of the San Francisco Symphony, in September 1995, Michael Tilson Thomas led the orchestra in a dynamic, revelatory performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. It was an unforgettable experience, one that established the pattern for the 25 years of musical adventure that followed. Beethoven’s Ninth was on the agenda once again Thursday, Oct. 19, when Thomas, now the orchestra’s Music Director Laureate, returned for what seems all too likely to be his final appearance with the orchestra. It was a rich and emotion-laden occasion, at once an encounter with a familiar musical masterpiece and an opportunity for music lovers in the Bay Area and elsewhere to pay tribute to the man who has given us so many of these … In August 2021, during the COVID-19 shutdown that disrupted plans for his final season as music director, Thomas was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer…. With almost miraculous stamina, Thomas conducted to enthusiastic acclaim in New York, London, Miami and elsewhere. Most recently in San Francisco, he led a March performance of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony that was suffused with tragic ferocity…. The standing ovation that greeted Thomas’ first appearance on stage was long and heartfelt. The one that followed the conclusion … was even more so.