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Franz Welser-Möst

Franz Welser-Möst Photograph by Don Snyder

Music Director
Kelvin Smith Family Endowed Chair
The Cleveland Orchestra

The 2015-16 season marks Franz Welser-Möst’s fourteenth year as music director of The Cleveland Orchestra, with the future of this acclaimed partnership now extending into the next decade.  Under his direction, the Orchestra is hailed for its continuing artistic excellence, is broadening and enhancing its community programming at home in Northeast Ohio, is presented in a series of ongoing residencies in the United States and Europe, and has re-established itself as an important operatic ensemble.
With a commitment to music education and the Northeast Ohio community, Franz Welser-Möst has taken The Cleveland Orchestra back into public schools with performances in collaboration with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.  He has championed new programs, such as a community-focused Make Music! initiative and a series of “At Home” neighborhood residencies designed to bring the Orchestra and citizens together in new ways.

Under Mr. Welser-Möst’s leadership, The Cleveland Orchestra has established a recurring biennial residency in Vienna at the famed Musikverein concert hall and appears regularly at Switzerland’s Lucerne Festival.  Together, they have also appeared in residence at Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Japan, and at the Salzburg Festival.  In the United States, an annual multi-week Cleveland Orch­estra residency in Florida was inaugurated in 2007 and an ongoing relationship with New York’s Lincoln Center Festival began in 2011.

To the start of this season, The Cleveland Orchestra has performed fourteen world and fifteen United States premieres under Franz Welser-Möst’s direction.  In partnership with the Lucerne Festival, he and the Orchestra have premiered works by Harrison Birtwistle, Chen Yi, Hanspeter Kyburz, George Benjamin, Toshio Hosokawa, and Matthias Pintscher.  In addition, the Daniel R. Lewis Young Composer Fellow program has brought new voices to the repertoire, including Pintscher, Marc-André Dalbavie, Susan Botti, Julian Anderson, Johannes Maria Staud, Jörg Widmann, Sean Shepherd, and Ryan Wigglesworth.

Franz Welser-Möst has led annual opera performances during his tenure in Cleveland.  Following six seasons of opera-in-concert presentations, he brought fully staged opera back to Severance Hall with a three-season cycle of Zurich Opera productions of the Mozart-Da Ponte operas.  He led concert performances of Strauss’s Salome at Severance Hall and at Carnegie Hall in 2012 and in May 2014 led an innovative made-for-Cleveland production of Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen at Severance Hall.  He conducted performances of Richard Strauss’s Daphne in May 2015 and presents a Bartók doublebill in April 2016.

As a guest conductor, Mr. Welser-Möst enjoys a close and productive relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic.  Recent performances with the Philharmonic include a critically-acclaimed production of Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier at the 2014 Salzburg Festival and a tour of Scandinavia, as well as appearances at New York’s Carnegie Hall, at the Lucerne Festival, and in concert at La Scala Milan.  He also conducted them in a new production of Beethoven’s Fidelio at the 2015 Salzburg Festival.  He led the Philharmonic’s celebrated annual New Year’s Day concert in 2011 and 2013, viewed by tens of millions by telecast worldwide. 

Mr. Welser-Möst also maintains relationships with a number of other European orchestras, and the 2015-16 season includes return engagements to Munich’s Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchestra.  He also makes his long-anticipated debut with Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra for two weeks of concerts, and conducts the Filarmonica of La Scala Milan in a televised Christmas concert.   He also conducts the Vienna Philharmonic in two weeks of subscription concerts, leads the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic in the Nobel Prize concert in Stockholm, and conducts a new production of Strauss’s Die Liebe der Danae at the 2016 Salzburg Festival.

From 2010 to 2014, Franz Welser-Möst served as general music director of the Vienna State Opera.  His partnership with the company included an acclaimed new production of Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung cycle and a series of critically-praised new productions, as well as performances of a wide range of other operas, particularly of works by Wagner and Richard Strauss.  Prior to his years with the Vienna State Opera, Mr. Welser-Möst led the Zurich Opera across a decade-long tenure, leading more than forty new productions and culminating in three seasons as general music director (2005-08). 

Franz Welser-Möst’s recordings and videos have won major awards, including a Gramophone Award, Diapason d’Or, Japanese Record Academy Award, and two Grammy nominations.  With The Cleveland Orchestra, he has created DVD recordings of live performances of five of Bruckner’s symphonies, and is in the midst of a new project recording major works by Brahms.  With Cleveland, he has also released a recording of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and an all-Wagner album.  DVD releases on the EMI label have included Mr. Welser-Möst leading Zurich Opera productions of The Marriage of Figaro, Così fan tutte, Don Giovanni, Der Rosenkavalier, Fierrabras, and Peter Grimes.

For his talents and dedication, Mr. Welser-Möst has received honors that
include the Vienna Philharmonic’s “Ring of Honor” for his longstanding personal and artistic relationship with the ensemble, as well as recognition from the Western Law Center for Disability Rights, honorary membership in the Vienna Singverein, appointment as an Academician of the European Academy of Yuste, a Gold Medal from the Upper Austrian government for his work as a cultural ambassador, a Decoration of Honor from the Republic of Austria for his artistic achievements, and the Kilenyi Medal from the Bruckner Society of America.  He is the co-author of Cadences: Observations and Conversations, published in a German edition in 2007.   

Updated: June 2015