The New York Philharmonic, throwing off its accustomed caution, has named Alan Gilbert as its next music director. Forty years old, schooled in Philharmonic culture practically from birth, Gilbert will be, alongside Leonard Bernstein and Zubin Mehta, among the youngest directors in the orchestra's recent history. (The youngest of the twentieth century was John Barbirolli, who was thirty-seven when he became sole conductor in 1937. Theodore Eisfeld was thirty-three when he took over back in 1849.) Gilbert is also the first native New Yorker to hold the post. Riccardo Muti will have a supporting role, conducting six to eight weeks of concerts a year. Thus end years of speculation, rumor, second-guessing, and ambiguous half-announcements. And it's as several of us had hoped. I've heard Gilbert give several powerful performances of late, notably of the Ives Fourth, the Prokofiev Fifth, and the Ligeti Violin Concerto. He is a man with an inquisitive, contemporary mind. If all goes well, the Philharmonic will be a markedly different, more vibrant organization in a few years' time.