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Biography
Music Director
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 at the Salzburg Festival, where a 2008 residency included five sold-out performances of a staged production of Dvorák’s opera Rusalka.  In the United States, Mr. Welser-Möst has established an annual three-week Cleveland Orchestra Miami Residency in Florida and launches a new biennial residency at New York’s Lincoln Center Festival in July 2011.

Artistic highlights of Franz Welser-Möst’s first eight seasons as Music Director in Cleveland featured thirteen world and thirteen United States premieres.  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.  In addition, 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 in 2009, leading four sold-out performances of a Zurich Opera production of The Marriage of Figaro. The cycle of Mozart/Da Ponte operas concludes with Don Giovanni during the 2010-11 season.  

Franz Welser-Möst was appointed General Music Director Designate of the Vienna State Opera in 2007.  He began his directorship 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 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, and Hindemith’s Cardillac.

In June 2010, Mr. Welser-Möst conducted the Vienna Philharmonic in its annual outdoor “Summer Night” concert at Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace, and led its New Year’s Day concert telecast worldwide on January 1, 2011.  Other recent and upcoming guest-conducting engagements have included appearances with the Berlin Philharmonic and Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, as well as opera performances in Zurich.  Franz Welser-Möst first appeared at the Salzburg Festival in 1985, made his American debut in 1989, and served as music director of the London Philharmonic (1990-96).  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, and the appointment as an Academician of the European Academy of Yuste.  In 2010, he was awarded a Gold Medal from the Austrian government for his work as a cultural ambassador.  He is the co-author of Cadences: Observations and Conversations, published in a German edition in 2007.
This biography was most recently edited by...
clevelandorchestra - 31 Aug 2011
clevelandorchestra - 31 Aug 2011
clevelandorchestra - 31 Aug 2011
clevelandorchestra - 31 Aug 2011
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clevelandorchestra - 11 Jul 2011
clevelandorchestra - 11 Jul 2011
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