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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 2019-20 season marks his eighteenth 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. 

Under his direction, The Cleveland Orchestra has been praised for its inventive programming, its ongoing support for new musical works, and for its innovative approach to semi-staged and staged opera presentations.  An imaginative approach to juxtaposing newer and older works has opened new dialogue and fresh insights for musicians and audiences alike.  The Orchestra has also been hugely successful in building up a new and, notably, a young audience 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 particularly close and productive relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic.  He has twice appeared on the podium for their celebrated New Year’s Concert, and regularly conducts the orchestra in subscription concerts in Vienna, as well as on tours in Japan, China, Australia, and the United States.  Highlights of his guest conducting appearances in the 2019-20 season include performances of Strauss’s Die Aegyptische Helena at Teatro alla Scala, and concerts with the New York Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, and Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.  Mr. Franz Welser-Möst is also a regular guest at the Salzburg Festival, where his work leading a series of opera performances has been widely acclaimed. These have included Rusalka, Der Rosenkavalier, Fidelio, Die Liebe der Danae, Aribert Reimann’s Lear, and Strauss’s Salome.  The success of both Salome and Rosenkavalier caused the Festival to schedule encore performances in subsequent years.  

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 international awards and honors.  With The Cleveland Orchestra, his recordings include a number of DVDs on the Clasart Classic label, featuring live performances of five of Bruckner’s symphonies, a multi-DVD set of major works by Brahms.  A number of his Salzburg opera productions, including Rosenkavalier, have been released internationally on DVD by Unitel.

In June 2019, Mr. Welser-Möst was awarded the Gold Medal in the Arts by the Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts in recognition of his long-lasting impact on the international arts community.  Other honors include the Vienna Philharmonic’s “Ring of Honor” for his longstanding personal and artistic relationship with the ensemble, the Pro Arte Europa­preis for his advocacy and achievements as a musical ambassador, recognition from the Western Law Center for Disability Rights, 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 2019