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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 2013-14 season marks Franz Welser-Möst's twelfth year as music director of The Cleveland Orchestra, with a long-term commitment extending to the Orchestra’s centennial in 2018.  Under his direction, the Orchestra is acclaimed for its continuing artistic excellence, is extending and enhancing its community programming at home in Northeast Ohio, is presented in a series of ongoing residencies in the United States and Europe, continues its historic championship of new composers through commissions and premieres, and has re-established itself as an important operatic ensemble.  Concurrently with his post in Cleveland, Mr. Welser-Möst is general music director of the Vienna State Opera.

With a committed focus on music education in Northeast Ohio, Franz Welser-Möst has taken The Cleveland Orchestra back into public schools with performances in collaboration with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.  Mr. Welser-Möst’s championship of community music-making expands upon his active participation in educational programs and collaborative programming, including the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra and partnerships with music conservatories, universities, and other arts institutions across Northeast Ohio.

Under Mr. Welser-Möst’s leadership, The Cleveland Orchestra has established an ongoing biennial residency in Vienna at the famed Musikverein concert hall and another at Switzerland’s Lucerne Festival.  Together, they have appeared in residence at Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Japan, and at the Salzburg Festival, where a 2008 residency included five sold-out performances of a staged production of Dvořák’s opera Rusalka.  In the United States, Mr. Welser-Möst has established an annual multi-week Cleveland Orch­estra residency in Florida under the name Cleveland Orchestra Miami and, in 2011, launched a regular new residency at New York’s Lincoln Center Festival.

To the start of this season, The Cleveland Orchestra has performed fourteen world and fifteen United States premieres under Franz Welser-Möst’s direction.  Through the Roche Commissions project, he and the Orchestra have premiered works by Harrison Birtwistle, Chen Yi, Hanspeter Kyburz, George Benjamin, Toshio Hosokawa, and Matthias Pintscher in partnership with the Lucerne Festival and Carnegie Hall.  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 a series of opera performances during his tenure in Cleveland, re-establishing the Orchestra as an important operatic ensemble.  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 May 2012 and in May 2014 leads an innovative made-for-Cleveland production of Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen at Severance Hall. 

Franz Welser-Möst became general music director of the Vienna State Opera in 2010.  His long partnership with the company has included acclaimed performances of Tristan and Isolde, a new production of Wagner’s Ring cycle with stage director Sven-Eric Bechtolf, and critically praised new productions of Hindemith’s Cardillac and Janáček’s Katya Kabanova and From the House of the Dead.  During the 2013-14 season, his Vienna schedule includes a new production of Puccini’s The Girl of the Golden West, as well as performances of Tristan and Isolde, Verdi’s Don Carlo, Beethoven’s Fidelio, and Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos and Der Rosenkavalier.

Mr. Welser-Möst also maintains an ongoing relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic.  Recent performances with the Philharmonic include appearances at New York’s Carnegie Hall, in concert at La Scala Milan, and in opera presentations at the Salzburg Festival.  He also led the Philharmonic’s New Year’s Day concert, viewed by telecast in seventy countries worldwide in 2011 and again in 2013.  Across a decade-long tenure with the Zurich Opera, culminating in three seasons as general music director (2005-08), Mr. Welser-Möst led the company in more than 40 new productions. 

Franz Welser-Möst’s recordings and videos have won major awards, including the 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, presented in three acoustically distinctive venues (the Abbey of St. Florian in Austria, Vienna’s Musik­verein, and Severance Hall).  With Cleveland, he has also released a recording of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as well as an all-Wagner album featuring soprano Measha Brueggergosman.  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 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: January 2014