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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 2018-19 season marks his seventeenth year as music director of The Cleveland Orch­estra, with the future of this acclaimed partnership extending into the next decade.  The New York Times has declared Cleveland under Welser-Möst’s direction to be the “best American orchestra“ for its virtuosity, elegance of sound, variety of color, and chamber-like musical cohesion. 

During The Cleveland Orchestra’s centennial last season — dedicated to the community that created it — Franz Welser-Möst led two ambitous festivals, The Ecstasy of Tristan and Isolde, examining the power of music to portray and create transcednence, followed by a concentrated look at the philosophical and political messages within Beethoven’s music in The Prometheus Project (presented on three continents, in Cleveland, Vienna, and Tokyo).  His innovative approach to programming, introducing new music, and rediscovering and re-examining older works continues this season, including a brand-new made-for-Cleveland production by Frederic Wake-Walker of Richard Strauss’s opera Ariadne auf Naxos in January.

Franz Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra are frequent guests at many prestigious concert halls and festivals around the world, including regular appearances in Vienna, New York, and Miami, and at the festivals of Salzburg and Lucerne.  During Welser-Möst’s tenure, The Cleveland Orchestra has been hugely successful in building up a new and, notably, younger audience at home in Cleveland through groundbreaking programs involving families, students, universities, and cross-community partnerships.  A series of established and newly created education offerings continue to energize and engage students throughout the region.

As a guest conductor, Mr. Welser-Möst enjoys a close and productive relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic.  His recent performances with the Philharmonic have included a series of critically-acclaimed opera productions at the Salzburg Festival (Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier in 2014, Beethoven’s Fidelio in 2015, Strauss’s Die Liebe der Danae in 2016, Reimann’s Lear in 2017, and Strauss’s Salome in 2018), as well as appearances on tour 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.  Performances with the Philharmonic this year include appearances at the Salzburg, Grafenegg, and Glyndebourne festivals, and, in November, at Versailles and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall.  He returns to Vienna in the spring to lead Mahler’s Eighth Symphony.

Mr. Welser-Möst also maintains relationships with a number of other European orchestras and opera companies.  His 2018-19 schedule includes concerts with the Czech Philharmonic and Dresden Staatskapelle.  He leads performances of Mozart’s The Magic Flute in a new production directed by Yuval Sharon with the Berlin State Opera, and Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala. 

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 audio and video recordings have won major awards, including a Gramophone Award, Diapason d’Or, Japanese Record Academy Award, and two Grammy nominations.  The recent Salzburg Festival production he conducted of Der Rosenkavalier was awarded with the Echo Klassik for “best opera recording.“  With The Cleveland Orch­estra, his recordings include DVD releases of live performances of five of Bruckner’s symphonies and a multi-DVD set of major works by Brahms, featuring Yefim Bronfman and Julia Fischer as soloists.  A companion video recording of Brahms’s German Requiem was released in 2017.

In 2017, Mr. Welser-Möst was awarded the Pro Arte Europa­preis for his advocacy and achievements as a musical ambassador.  Other honors and awards include the Vienna Philhar­monic’s “Ring of Honor” for his long-standing 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: September 2018