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Franz Welser-Möst

Franz Welser-Möst Photograph by Jennifer Taylor

Music Director
Kelvin Smith Family Endowed Chair
The Cleveland Orchestra

Franz Welser-Möst is among today’s most distinguished conductors.  The 2016-17 season marks his fifteenth 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 New York Times has declared Cleveland to be the “best American orchestra“ due to its virtuosity, elegance of sound, variety of color, and chamber-like musical cohesion.  The Cleveland Orchestra has been repeatedly praised for its innovative programming, support for new musical works, and for its recent success in semi-staged and staged opera productions.  In addition to an unprecedented annual residency in Miami, Franz Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra are frequent guests at many prestigious concert halls and festivals, including the Salzburg Festival and the Lucerne Festival.  The Cleveland Orchestra has been hugely successful in building up a new and, notably, a young audience through its groundbreaking programs involving students and by working closely with universities.

As a guest conductor, Mr. Welser-Möst enjoys a close and productive relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic.  Recent performances with the Philharmonic include critically-acclaimed opera productions at the Salzburg Festival (Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier in 2014 and Beethoven’s Fidelio in 2015) 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 has conducted the Philharmonic’s celebrated annual New Year’s Day concert twice, viewed by millions worldwide.  He led the Vienna Philharmonic in two weeks of subscription concerts during the 2015-16 season, and conducts a new production of Strauss’s Die Liebe der Danae with them at the 2016 Salzburg Festival.

Mr. Welser-Möst also maintains relationships with a number of other European orchestras, and the 2015-16 season included return engagements to Munich’s Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchestra.  In December 2015, he led the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic in the Nobel Prize concert in Stockholm and conducted the Filarmonica of La Scala Milan in a televised Christmas concert.  He also made his long-anticipated debut with Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra for two weeks of concerts.

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 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, conducting 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.  The Salzburg Festival production he conducted of Der Rosenkavalier was awarded with the Echo Klassik 2015 for “best opera recording.“  With The Cleveland Orchestra, his recordings include DVD recordings of live performances of five of Bruckner’s symphonies and a recently-released multi-DVD set of major works by Brahms, featuring Yefim Bronfman and Julia Fischer as soloists.  

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 Decoration of Honor from the Republic of Austria for his artistic achievements, and the Kilenyi Medal from the Bruckner Society of America.

Updated: June 2016