Christoph von Dohnányi

Christoph von Dohnányi has a long-standing relationship with the Philharmonia Orchestra, starting with his appointment as the Orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor in 1994. He served as Principal Conductor for 11 years from 1997, before being appointed Honorary Conductor for Life in 2008. 

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Beginning the 2015/16 season on tour with the Philharmonia, they will be performing together in Saffron Walden, Dortmund, Berlin, Prague and Cologne. Following the tour he joins the Philharmonia again for their 70th anniversary celebratory concert. Other forthcoming engagements include concerts with Orchestre de Paris, Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and the Boston, Sydney and Chicago Symphony Orchestras. He closes the season with a performance at the Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts. Last season he performed with Orchestre de Paris, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Filarmonica della Scala, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, and the New York Philharmonic and Boston Symphony Orchestra. He also led a concert with the student orchestra of the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara.

As Music Director Laureate of The Cleveland Orchestra, Dohnányi is the first conductor to hold the post. He served as the orchestra’s sixth Music Director from 1984 to 2002, having been Music Director Designate for the previous two years. The partnership toured extensively around the US, Europe and Asia, performing at the Salzburger Festspiele, BBC Proms and Edinburgh International Festival and was a frequent guest at New York’s Carnegie Hall for many years. Recordings with the orchestra include the complete symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms and Schumann, Wagner’s Die Walküre and Das Rheingold, selected symphonies by Bruckner, Mahler, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Dvořák, and works by Ives, Ruggles, Shostakovich, Richard Strauss, Schubert and Webern.

In 1953 Sir Georg Solti appointed Dohnányi as Repetiteur and Assistant Conductor at Oper Frankfurt. At 27 he became Germany’s youngest General Music Director, at Theater Lübeck. He later moved to Staatstheater Kassel, becoming Chief Conductor of the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln at the same time. He served as GMD with Oper Frankfurt from 1968, and as Director of the company from 1972, and was Intendant and Chief Conductor of Hamburgische Staatsoper from 1977 to 1984. He held the positions of Artistic Advisor of the Orchestre de Paris from 1998 to 2000 and Chief Conductor of the NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg from 2004 to 2010.

Dohnányi’s distinguished career as an opera conductor includes productions at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, New York’s The Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Opéra national de Paris. He also led a variety of new productions at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris with the Philharmonia Orchestra, including Die Frau ohne SchattenArabellaDie schweigsame FrauHänsel und Gretel and Moses und Aron. Among the many opera productions he led at Wiener Staatsoper a new production of Der Ring des Nibelungen and the first staged performance of Moses and Aron are most noteworthy. Since the 1990s he has regularly conducted at Opernhaus Zürich, leading new productions of Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf NaxosSalomeElektraDie schweigsame Frau and Die Frau ohne Schatten, Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer, Mozart’s Idomeneo, a double-bill of Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle/Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex and Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron.

During Herbert von Karajan and Gerard Mortier’s years at the Salzburger Festspiele, Dohnányi conducted Wiener Philharmoniker in new opera productions including Der Rosenkavalier, Salome, Così fan tutte, Die Zauberflöte, Erwartung, Duke Bluebeard’s Castle and Ariadne auf Naxos, as well as world premieres of Henze’s Die Bassariden and Cerha’s Baal. He also conducted a number of concerts with Wiener Philharmoniker, with whom he recorded Der fliegende Holländer, Salome, Erwartung, Lulu, Fidelio and the complete symphonies of Mendelssohn.

Born in Berlin, Christoph von Dohnányi studied law in Munich from the age of 16. After two years he changed to music, studying composition, piano and conducting at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater. On graduation, he was awarded the Richard Strauss Prize for conducting by the City of Munich. He continued his studies in the US with his grandfather, Ernst von Dohnányi, at Florida State University and at the Tanglewood Music School. His many awards and recognitions include the degree of Doctor of Music from the Royal Academy of Music, the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York and The Oberlin College of Music in Ohio.