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Musical World

Christoph Eschenbach

  • Conductor
  • Pianist


In the 2008-09 season Mr. Eschenbach took the Orchestre de Paris, where he is Music Director through August, 2010, to the Berlin Festival, the BBC Proms and on a tour of Scandinavia, and led the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he was Music Director from 2003 to 2008, on a three-week European tour. Other highlights included return engagements with the Vienna Philharmonic (both in Vienna and on tour throughout Europe), the New York Philharmonic, the Staatskapelle Dresden, the London Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony as well as his concerts with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

In 2009-10 Mr. Eschenbach returns to the Vienna Philharmonic at the Mozartwoche in Salzburg (where he will play and conduct) and the Philadelphia Orchestra to lead two programs, one of which includes Mahler Symphony No. 7 in Carnegie Hall, completing his Mahler cycle with the orchestra.  He leads his first concerts with the National Symphony Orchestra since his appointment as music director was announced in autumn of 2008. Mr. Eschenbach also conducts two programs at Royal Festival Hall with the London Philharmonic and takes the orchestra on a tour of China.  He also returns to the Staatskapelle Dresden, conducting its annual nationally televised Advent Concert, subscription concerts in Dresden and a tour throughout Germany and in Abu Dhabi.

Other highlights of the current season include engagements with the Filarmonica della Scala in Milan, the New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the Munich Philharmonic, the Orchestra Sinfonica dell'Accademia di Santa Cecilia and the NDR Symphony Orchestra, where he served as Music Director from 1998 to 2004. Principal Conductor of the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival International Orchestral Academy since 2004, he also leads the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival Orchestra on tours in Hungary and the Czech Republic as part of the centennial of Mahler’s death and in North America with Lang Lang as soloist. As Music Director Designate of the National Symphony Orchestra, he leads three performances of the Verdi Requiem in Washington D.C.

As a pianist, he continues his fruitful collaboration with baritone Matthias Goerne. The duo is recording Schubert's three song cycles—“Die Schöne Müllerin,” “Die Winterreise,” and “Schwanengesang”—for the Harmonia Mundi label, the first installment of which was released in May 2009.  In the summer of 2009, they performed three complete cycles in three recitals each at Wigmore Hall, the Ravinia Festival in Chicago and the Schubertiade festival in Austria that also included a performances of Schubert’s monumental Piano Sonata in B-flat by Mr. Eschenbach at each venue.

A prolific recording artist over five decades, Christoph Eschenbach has an impressive discography as both a conductor and a pianist on a number of prominent labels.  His recordings include works ranging from J.S. Bach to music of our time and reflect his commitment to not just canonical works but the music of the late-20th and early-21st-century as well.  Mr. Eschenbach's discography includes recordings with the Orchestre de Paris, on the Ondine and Deutsche Gramophone labels and with the London Symphony (Sony/BMG), the Vienna Philharmonic (Decca), the Hamburg NDR Symphony (BMG/Sony & Warner) and the Houston Symphony (Koch) orchestras, among others. Over the past five years, Ondine has released sixteen critically acclaimed recordings featuring Mr. Eschenbach with the Orchestre de Paris and the Philadelphia Orchestra, a number of which have received prestigious honors including BBC Magazine “Disc of the Month,” Gramophone “Editors Choice,” and the German Record Critics’ Award, among others.  His recent Ondine recording of the music of Kaija Saariaho with the Orchestre de Paris and soprano Karita Mattila won the 2009 MIDEM Classical Award in Contemporary Music.

Mentored by George Szell and Herbert von Karajan, Mr. Eschenbach held the posts of Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Tonhalle Orchestra from 1982 to 1986; Music Director of the Houston Symphony from 1988 to 1999; Music Director of the Ravinia Festival from 1994 to 2003; and Artistic Director of the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival from 1999 to 2002. His many honors include the Légion d’Honneur; Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres; the Officer's Cross with Star and Ribbon of the German Order of Merit; and the Commander's Cross of the German Order of Merit for outstanding achievements as pianist and conductor. He also received the Leonard Bernstein Award from the Pacific Music Festival, where he was co-artistic director from 1992 to 1998.