Christoph von Dohnányi - His early years
Born in Berlin, Christoph von Dohnányi began to study law in Munich. After two years he chose to join the Munich Academy of Music to study composition, piano and conducting. At the end of his studies, he was awarded the Richard Strauss Prize for conducting by the City of Munich. He then went to study with his grandfather, Ernst von Dohnányi at Florida State University. In 1953 Christoph von Dohnányi was hired as repetiteur and conductor at the Frankfurt Opera by Sir Georg Solti. At the age of 27 he moved to Lübeck where he became Germany’s youngest General Music Director. He was Chief Conductor of the Westdeutsche Rundfunk Sinfonie Orchester in Cologne and General Music Director from 1968 on and became also Opera Director in Frankfurt in 1972. In 1978 he became Intendant and Chief Conductor of Hamburg Opera. In Frankfurt and Hamburg he aimed to balance traditional opera productions and innovative music theatre. During this time, Agnus Baltsa, Ileana Cotrubas, Eva Marton, Julia Varady and Hildegard Behrens launched their international careers in Frankfurt, whilst Dohnányi himself directed new productions of Le nozze di Figaro and Fidelio.
Christoph von Dohnányi and the Cleveland Orchestra
In December 1981 Christoph von Dohnányi first conducted The Cleveland Orchestra. He was appointed Music Director Designate from 1982-1984 and served as sixth Music Director from September 1984 to August 2002, becoming the orchestra’s first Music Director Laureate in September 2002. During his tenure Dohnányi has hired 73 new musicians in Cleveland and the subscription series in Severance Hall in Cleveland was significantly expanded.
Dohnányi and the orchestra have appeared on numerous tours in the USA, Asia and Europe, including visits to the Salzburg Festival, Proms and Edinburgh Festival. They also have been in residence at Carnegie Hall. They performed for the first time in the orchestra’s history in China in 1998. During Dohnányi’s tenure The Cleveland Orchestra’s Youth Orchestra and Youth Chorus were founded and the orchestra’s musical home, Severance Hall, was renovated and expanded. The restoration of the magnificent Norton Memorial Organ brought the instrument back into the concert life of Cleveland.
Christoph von Dohnányi - His recordings
With the Cleveland Orchestra Dohnányi’s recordings include the complete symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms and Schumann, selected symphonies by Bruckner, Dvorák, Mahler, Mozart, Schubert and Tchaikovsky, and works by Adams, Bartók, Berlioz, Birtwistle, Busoni, Ives, Lutoslawski, Ravel, Shostakovich, Richard Strauss, Varèse and Webern. Opera recordings include Wagner’s Die Walküre and Das Rheingold.
Celebrating 18 years of Dohnányi’s Music Directorship, The Cleveland Orchestra has published a commemorative CD set including works by Schoenberg, Wagner, Bruckner, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Lutoslawski, Bartók, Prokofiev, Hindemith, Schubert, Adams, Mahler, Beethoven, Brahms, Liszt, Berlioz, Debussy, Mendelssoshn, Delius, Haydn, Ives, Varese, Janáček, Franck, Schnittke, Sibelius. In June 2002 two semi-staged performances of Wagner’s Siegfried were the last concerts at Severance Hall in Cleveland with Dohnányi and The Cleveland Orchestra.
Christoph von Dohnányi and the Philharmonia Orchestra
In September 1997 Christoph von Dohnányi became Principal Conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra, having been Principal Guest Conductor since 1994. Together they appear at London’s Royal Festival Hall with subscription concerts, touring these concerts to venues throughout England. Last season Dohnányi and the orchestra toured the US and Europe appearing in New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Amsterdam, Budapest, Vienna and Bruges.
Together they have developed a successful collaboration with the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris having performed many productions including Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten, Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron, Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex, Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, Strauss’s Die Schweigsame Frau and Arabella. Dohnányi and the Philharmonia appeared there in May 2005 with a concert and revival series of Arabella.
Christoph von Dohnányi - The Opera House Conductor
Christoph von Dohnányi has been a guest conductor with all major orchestras and opera houses in the USA as well as in Europe. At the Vienna State Opera, he conducted the complete new production of Der Ring des Nibelungen in the 1992/93 season. He returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago in January to conduct Fidelio.
He has conducted several productions at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden including Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Fidelio, Der fliegende Holländer, Salome, Die Frau ohne Schatten and most recently Arabella. At the Zurich Opera he led new productions of Un Ballo in Maschera, Wozzeck, Die schweigsame Frau, Mozart’s Idomeneo and last season Strauss’s Elektra.
Christoph von Dohnányi and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
As a regular guest conductor at the Salzburg Festival, Christoph von Dohnányi has led the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in several new opera productions including Der Rosenkavalier, Salome, Così fan tutte, Schoenberg’s Erwartung, Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, Die Zauberflöte and Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. Also in Salzburg he conducted the Vienna Philharmonic in the world premières of Henze’s Die Bassariden and Cerha’s Baal.
Christoph von Dohnányi’s discography with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra includes Beethoven’s Fidelio, Berg’s Wozzeck and Lulu, Schoenberg’s Erwartung, Richard Strauss’s Salome, Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer and complete symphonies by Mendelssohn and symphonic works by Tchaikovsky. He has recorded the Violin Concertos by Glass and Schnittke with Gidon Kremer and the Dvořák Piano Concerto with András Schiff. He has also recorded orchestral transcriptions of chamber music by Brahms and Mahler.
This season, Christoph von Dohnányi is returning to his home town of Hamburg to become Chief Conductor of the NDR Sinfonieorchester. He will lead the orchestra in subscription concerts in Hamburg, Bremen and Lübeck as well as on tour throughout Germany, Italy and Switzerland.