Kelvin Smith Family Endowed Chair
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst began his tenure as music director of The Cleveland Orchestra in 2002. His long-term commitment extends to the Orchestra’s centennial in 2018. Under his direction, the Orchestra is enlarging and enhancing its community programming at home, 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 became general music director of the Vienna State Opera in September 2010.
With a committed focus on music education in Northeast Ohio, Mr. Welser-Möst has taken The Cleveland Orchestra back into public schools with performances in collaboration with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. The initiative continues and expands upon Mr. Welser-Möst’s active participation in community concerts and educational programs, including the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra and partnerships with music conservatories and universities 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 at the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland. Together, they have also 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 Miami Residency in Florida and launched a new biennial residency at New York’s Lincoln Center Festival in 2011.
Artistic highlights of Franz Welser-Möst’s first nine seasons as Music Director in Cleveland featured thirteen world and fifteen United States premieres under his direction. Through the Roche Commissions project, he and the Orchestra have premiered works by Harrison Birtwistle, Chen Yi, Hanspeter Kyburz, George Benjamin, and Toshio Hosokawa in partnership with the Lucerne Festival and Carnegie Hall. The Daniel R. Lewis Young Composer Fellow program has brought additional new voices to the Orchestra’s repertoire, including Marc-André Dalbavie, Matthias Pintscher, Susan Botti, Julian Anderson, Johannes Maria Staud, and Jörg Widmann.
Franz Welser-Möst has led opera performances each season during his tenure in Cleveland. Following six opera-in-concert presentations, he brought fully staged opera back to Severance Hall, leading Zurich Opera productions of the three Mozart/Da Ponte operas across three seasons: The Marriage of Figaro in March 2009, Così fan tutte in 2010, and Don Giovanni in 2011. He leads concert performances of Strauss's Salome at Severance Hall and at Carnegie Hall during the 2011-12 season.
Franz Welser-Möst began his tenure as General Music Director of the Vienna State Opera at the start of the 2010-11 season, leading performances of Puccini’s La Bohème and a production of Wagner’s Tannhäuser that he premiered last season. During the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons, he had premiered a new production of Wagner’s Ring cycle in tandem with stage director Sven-Eric Bechtolf. He has also led performances with the company of Wagner’s Parsifal, Tristan and Isolde, and Tannhäuser, along with Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten and Arabella, Janáček's Katya Kabanova, and Hindemith’s Cardillac.
Mr. Welser-Möst also maintains an ongoing relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic. Recent performances with the Philharmonic include appearances at the Lucerne Festival and Salzburg Festival, in Tokyo, and in concert at La Scala Milan, as well as leading the Philharmonic’s 2011 New Year’s Day concert, viewed by telecast in seventy countries worldwide; he has been asked to conduct the New Year’s Day concert 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 and numerous revivals.
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 four Bruckner symphonies (presented in three accoustically distinctive venues): Symphony No. 5 in the Abbey of St. Florian in Austria, Symphony No. 9 in Vienna’s Musikverein, and Symphonies Nos. 7 and 8 at 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, La Bohème, 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: March 2012