Music appears to have come effortlessly to Michael Tilson Thomas, who was born to a family of musicians and dramatists. While a student he rose quickly to the top, and in 1969 he won the position as an assistant conductor to the Boston Symphony Orchestra. At a Carnegie Hall concert he was called in at the last minute to conduct, and this proved to be his big break. After decades of leading American orchestras (as well as the London) he has come to be an exponent of new music, and is well known for creating quality concert programs that introduce contemporary music to larger and more conservative audiences. He has also left in his wake a great number of critically acclaimed recordings, although Alma Brasileira is considered in some circles to have one of the worst album covers for a classical music album ever. MTT, as he's known in San Francisco where he leads the Symphony Orchestra, is also an accomplished pianist and composer.