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One of today’s most celebrated conductors, Franz Welser-Möst has held the position of Music Director of The Cleveland Orchestra, one of the world’s great cultural institutions, since 2001. In 2014 his contract, already encompassing the orchestra’s centennial year in 2018, was further extended until 2022, making him the second-longest tenured Music Director in the orchestra’s history.


One of today’s most celebrated conductors, Franz Welser-Möst has held the position of Music Director of The Cleveland Orchestra, one of the world’s great cultural institutions, since 2001. In 2014 his contract, already encompassing the orchestra’s centennial year in 2018, was further extended until 2022, making him the second-longest tenured Music Director in the orchestra’s history.

With The Cleveland Orchestra he has built close relationships with Carnegie Hall, the Musikverein in Vienna, Suntory Hall in Tokyo and the Salzburg and Lucerne Festivals. Mr Welser-Möst and the orchestra have also held an annual residency in Miami (since 2007) and a biennial residency at New York's Lincoln Center (since 2011).  With The Cleveland Orchestra, Franz Welser-Möst has presented over thirteen world and fifteen United States premieres, and highlights of recent seasons include a sequence of fully-staged productions of Mozart’s Da Ponte operas, an innovative semi-staging of The Cunning Little Vixen (“a musical performance of impeccable quality” New York Times), and concert performances of Salome at Carnegie Hall, which have re-established The Cleveland Orchestra as an operatic ensemble. Highlights of the 14/15 season include a tour of major European venues, including London’s BBC Proms, the Berlin Philharmonie, and both the Musikverein and Konzerthaus in Vienna, spotlighting the works of Brahms and Jörg Widmann, Bach’s B minor Mass, Strauss’s Daphne in a semi-staged production, and a series of Brahms symphonies and concerts to be recorded for future DVD release.

From 2010 to 2014 Franz Welser-Möst served as General Music Director of the Vienna Staatsoper. His partnership with the company included an acclaimed new production of Wagner's Ring cycle with director Sven-Eric Bechtolf – ‘dynamics controlled patience, intimate poetry: all there’ [der Standard | May 2013] – and, in his first two seasons as General Music Director, critically-praised new productions of Hindemith’s Cardillac, Janáček’s Káťa Kabanová and From the House of the Dead and Verdi’s Don Carlo. Recent highlights have included new productions of La Fanciulla del West, concert performances of Wozzeck at New York’s Carnegie Hall, and revivals of Der Rosenkavalier, Ariadne auf Naxos, Parsifal and Tristan und Isolde.

As a guest conductor, Mr Welser-Möst also enjoys an exceptionally close and productive relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and in 2013 he had the honour of leading the orchestra’s celebrated New Year’s Day Concert for the second time in three years, with the CD recordings of his appearance both in 2011 and in 2013 now having reached double-platinum status.  He has also performed with the Vienna Philharmonic at the Salzburg and Lucerne Festivals, at the BBC Proms, at Suntory Hall in Tokyo, at the Sommernacht concert in the grounds of Schönbrunn Palace, and on a regular basis in the orchestra’s subscription series at the Vienna Musikverein. Following an acclaimed series of concerts at Carnegie Hall in New York he returns to the orchestra in 14/15 for a tour of Scandinavia. In addition, he maintains a strong presence at the Salzburg Festival, and following acclaimed recent performances of Rusalka and Der Rosenkavalier (“The Vienna Philharmonic, under Franz Welser-Möst, illustrates this diverse and immensely rich musical panorama on the widest musical spectrum – for even the smallest remark there is an instrumental apercu” Die Presse), he returns to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic in a new production of Fidelio in 2015.

Elsewhere, Mr Welser-Möst has guest-conducted all the leading orchestras in Europe and the US, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony, the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, and the orchestras of Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia.  He made his Salzburg Festival debut in 1985, was Music Director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra from 1990-96, and led the orchestra and ensemble of the Zurich Opera, latterly as General Music Director, from 1995-2008. In 2014/15 Mr Welser-Möst will appear with the Bavarian Radio Symphony.
Mr Welser-Möst's recordings, both on CD and DVD, have won a number of major awards, including the Gramophone Award, the Diapason d'Or, the Japanese Record Academy Award and two Grammy nominations.  Recent recordings with The Cleveland Orchestra include DVDs of Bruckner’s Symphonies Nos. 5, 7, 8 and 9, and CD recordings for Deutsche Grammophon of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Wagner excerpts featuring Measha Brueggergosman.

Franz Welser-Möst is the recipient of many honours, including honorary membership of both the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien and the Wiener Singverein, the Gold Medal of Upper Austria, the Decoration of Honour from the Republic of Austria and the Kilenyi Medal of Honour from the Bruckner Society of America.  He was named Conductor of the Year by Musical America in 2003.  He is an Academician of the European Academy of Yuste, and is the co-author of Cadences: Observations and Conversations. In 2014 he was awarded the prestigious ‘Ehrenring’ of the Vienna Philharmonic, in recognition of his long-standing personal and artistic relationship with the orchestra.

September 2014. No previously dated versions are authorised for publication. This biography must not be edited in any way without prior permission from IMG Artists.

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"Welser-Möst and the Cleveland players, joined at the hip, … offered playing divinely precise, exquisitely refined."

The Arts Desk

"A truly exceptional evening with the Bavarian State Orchestra and its marvellous musicians who responded in an all-consuming way to the precise and careful indications of this Maestro, moved just as much by the spirit as by the nuances and subtleness of the Straussian language. […] The way in which the Austrian Maestro conducted was a pure miracle - with an indescribable touch and with perfect knowledge of this Straussian music he passed mysterious movements to the orchestra, which responded like a giant chamber orchestra."

Süddeutsche Zeitung

"“Mr. Welser-Möst and his wondrous orchestra refuse to let the music’s churning textures ever settle into sluggishness, […] a musical performance of impeccable quality and wide textural range, from the rustle of strings tapped with the wood of bows at the beginning to the horn fanfares that open the final scene with unassuming flawlessness. Mr. Welser-Möst treats the score — as he did Strauss’s “Salome” with this orchestra in 2012 — with a lithe flexibility that gives climaxes a fearsomely contrasting grandeur and weight.”"

New York Times

"Dynamics, controlled impatience, intimate poetry: all there. Cheers and Jubilee for Welser-Möst. | Vienna State Opera 'Ring Cycle'"

Der Standard

"This was one of the most beautiful New Year's Concerts since Karajan and Kleiber. Franz Welser-Möst knows how the music of the Strauss-dynasty, the music of Lanner and Hellmesberger has to sound."


"The Cleveland Orchestra’s triumphant performance of Richard Strauss’s Salome […] The great interlude… was stunning, not just for the virtuosity with which the orchestra dealt with its turbulent pile-up of leitmotifs, but also for the way that the eerily quiet passage for contrabassoon held the audience rapt. [Franz Welser-Möst] ensured that there was ample excitement to go around, while letting the music unfold with structural logic and maximizing opportunities for sumptuous playing."

Musical America

"What the [Vienna] Philharmonic Orchestra under the confident conductorship Franz Welser-Moests deliver is breathtaking.... it is especially exhilarating in its musical swing and the expressive directness."

Die Presse

"And in fact, [the Bolero] sounded fabulous—with those weapons that Welser-Möst handles so scrupulously: precision, rhythmic control, a certain highly effective minimalism. All that, plus the assurance of having an orchestra like the Cleveland at his command: compact, secure, even luminous. The artistic results are overwhelmingly effective. It is the art of perfection, pure and simple."

El Pais

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