Leonard Slatkin, conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) in Washington, will step down as
music director in September 2008.
The conductor recently completed a TV series for BBC Four
Slatkin, who turned 60 this year, will have held the position of music director for 12 years.
"The goals which I set when I began my tenure here will have been accomplished," said Slatkin, a champion of contemporary and American music.
"In my opinion, the NSO now ranks
amongst the world's great orchestras."
The conductor had intended to step down at the end of his current contract in 2006, but was persuaded to stay on for a further two years to ensure a smooth handover.
Praised for his imaginative programming, Slatkin has commissioned 64 new works from 53 American composers since he took the post at the NSO in 1996.
He is also conductor laureate of the Saint Louis Symphony and recently completed his tenure as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
"I view this change as a natural evolution in the career of an orchestra conductor," he said in a statement on Wednesday. There was no mention of his future plans.
Slatkin has an active broadcasting career, including his own radio programme, and fronted a television series about Hollywood composers for BBC Four in August.