Manfred Honeck was born in Austria and studied music at the Academy of Music in Vienna. An accomplished violinist and violist, he spent more than ten years as a member of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra. It is this experience that has heavily influenced his conducting and has helped give it a distinctive stamp.
After several highly successful guest appearances leading the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, he was appointed its ninth Music Director and began his tenure at the start of the 2008/2009 season. Only two years later his contract was extended until 2016. After performances at Carnegie Hall and a much-celebrated tour of European musical capitals in 2010, Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra returned to Europe again in August and September 2011 for appearances at the major music festivals such as Rheingau Music Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Grafenegg Festival, Musikfest Berlin, Beethovenfest Bonn, Lucerne Festival, the London Proms and concerts in Paris and Vilnius, Lithuania. Manfred Honeck's successful work in Pittsburgh is captured on CD by the audiophile Japanese label Exton. So far, Mahler's Symphonies Nos. 1, 3 and 4, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 and Richard Strauss's Ein Heldenleben have been released to critical acclaim.
Manfred Honeck has served as Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since the 2008-2009 season and has twice extended his contract, which currently runs until the end of the 2019-2020 season. His successful work in Pittsburgh has been is captured on CD by the Japanese label Exton, with so far Mahler's Symphonies Nos. 1, 3, 4 and 5, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 and Richard Strauss' Ein Heldenleben released to critical acclaim. The recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 has won an ICMA 2012 Award. Honeck and the orchestra have undertaken regular successful tours, and since 2010 annual tour performances have led them to numerous European music capitals and major music festivals, amongst them Rheingau Musik Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Beethovenfest Bonn, Musikfest Berlin, Grafenegg Festival, Lucerne Festival and the BBC Proms. The 2012 tour focused on a week-long residency at the Vienna Musikverein. In August and September 2013, concerts will take place in Grafenegg, Berlin, Bucharest, Paris, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Lucerne and Bonn.
From 2007 to 2011, Manfred Honeck was Music Director of the Staatsoper Stuttgart where he conducted numerous premieres including Berlioz's Les Troyens, Mozart's Idomeneo, Verdi's Aida, Richard Strauss's Rosenkavalier, Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites and Wagner's Lohengrin and Parsifal as well as numerous symphonic concerts. His operatic guest appearances include Semperoper Dresden, Komische Oper Berlin, Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Royal Opera of Copenhagen, the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg and the Salzburg Festival.
Born in Austria, Manfred Honeck received his musical training at the Academy of Music in Vienna. Many years of experience as a member of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra and at the helm of the Vienna Jeunesse Orchestra have given his conducting a distinctive stamp. He commenced his career as assistant to Claudio Abbado in Vienna. Subsequently, he was engaged by the Zurich Opera House, where he was bestowed the prestigious European Conductor’s Award in 1993. Other early stations of his career include Leipzig, where he was one of three main conductors of the MDR Symphony Orchestra and Oslo, where he assumed the post of Music Director at the Norwegian National Opera on short notice for a year and, following a highly successful tour of Europe, was engaged as Principal Guest Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra for several years. From 2000 to 2006 he was Music Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm and, from 2008 to 2011, Principal Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he will resume for another three years at the beginning of the season 2013/2014.
As a guest conductor Manfred Honeck has worked with leading international orchestras such as the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Staatskapelle Dresden, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Accademia di Santa Cecilia Rome and the Vienna Philharmonic. Orchestras he conducted in the USA include New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra. He is also a regular guest at the Verbier Festival. In February 2013 he gave his successful debut with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the direct result of which was a CD recording together with Anne-Sophie Mutter (works of Dvorak) for DG.
The current season sees him return to Bamberg, Stuttgart, Rome and New York as well as to the Vienna Symphony (a CD of works by the Strauss family was released in summer 2013) and Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He will also conduct Tonhalleorchester Zürich and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, amongst others.
Manfred Honeck has received honorary doctorates from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania and, most recently, from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Moreover, he has been Artistic Director of the "International Concerts Wolfegg" in Germany for more than fifteen years.
"“Let's be very clear here; this is what Strauss should sound like. […] It's not all virtuoso bombast, either […] Honeck infuses the music with a real sense of purpose throughout the programme. […] Thus the climaxes are genuinely exciting; the transfiguration is beyond gorgeous and there is every feeling that this is something very special. […] It's like Karajan's classic readings, only in better sound and a more natural orchestral picture. Fantastic.” "Brian Wigman, www.classical.net
"[Mozart's Jupiter symphony] received a performance close to ideal. Drama told through maintenance of line and understanding of harmonic rhythm, not via any applied ‘effects’. The LSO’s playing from all sections was beyond reproach, dark not sugary, counterpoint unerringly projected. Honeck and the orchestra combined the intimacy of chamber music with the dramatic urgency of the opera house [...] the LSO clearly loved playing with Honeck, and rightly so, for this was quite a debut, with Mozart surely the cruellest test of all. "Mark Berry, Seen and Heard International
"[Manfred Honeck's] interpretations hark back to a time when the rules were fewer and the colours brighter. His Mahler Five steered clear of the sleep-inducing modern fixations with orchestral homogeneity and tastefulness and instead jumped right off the deep end."Igor Toronyi-Lalic, The ArtsDesk
"Going through a musical score with Mr. Honeck is like visiting a tourist attraction with an expert local guide. He constantly points out things that have been long forgotten or interprets them in a way that seems utterly appropriate."Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Honeck's was a sensational performance, so overflowing with joy in nature in the first movement, earthy and loving in the second movement. Everything felt right to the 'nth' degree because Honeck's interpretation comes from his passionate devotion to Mahler's music and his thorough internalization of composer Richard Wagner's advice in his book 'On Conducting'; Wagner wrote that the primary responsibility of a conductor is to find the true ''melos'' of the music. He meant that when the conductor understood how to make all the music sing -- not just the tunes -- that he would find the right tempo and the soul of the music. "Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Mahler: Symphony No. 5, in C-sharp Minor - Pittsburgh Symphony 2012
Mahler: Symphony No. 3 - Pittsburgh Symphony 2011
Mahler: Symphony No. 4 - Pittsburgh Symphony 2011
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 - Pittsburgh Symphony 2011
Mahler: Symphony No. 1 "Titan" - Pittsburgh Symphony 2010
Strauss: Ein Heldenleben - Pittsburgh Symphony 2010
Szymanowski: Violin Concertos 1: Britten: Violin Concerto - Frank Peter Zimmermann, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Warsaw Philharmonic 2009
Walter Braunfels - Te Deum op. 32 - Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra 2008
Lehar - Die Lustige Witwe - Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden 2008