Now in his fifth season as Music Director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, 42-year-old ANDREAS DELFS is recognized worldwide as one of today's leading conductors. Since his arrival in 1997, Delfs has led the MSO to new artistic heights and created renewed excitement about the orchestra throughout the community.
"Our goal is to make each performance a memorable, powerful experience that people will carry with them out into their lives," Delfs says. "People today are yearning for human contact, for something that can speak to their hearts. Music does that like nothing else."
During the MSO's 1999 Cuba Millennium Tour, Mr. Delfs realized his dream of making the MSO the first major American orchestra to perform in Cuba in 37 years. Occurring during a period of heightened tension between the U.S. and Cuba, the tour was profiled by The New York Times, Associated Press, CNN, and the major U.S. television news networks.
Called a "brilliant technician and commanding musician" by The New York Times, Delfs made his Carnegie Hall debut in October 1998 in a performance with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Maurizio Pollini. His 1995/96 debut with the New York City Opera was acclaimed as a great success. The Times noted that "among those applauding most eagerly were the excited orchestra players."
Formerly Music Director of the Bern Opera - as well as a regular guest conductor of the Bern Symphony Orchestra - and the Resident Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony, Delfs also served as Music Director of the celebrated Orchestre Suisse des Jeunes from 1986 through 1995. That ensemble's first compact disc, recorded in 1991 under Delfs, received international critical acclaim.
In 1986, he served as Resident Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony under André Previn, and continued in that capacity under the baton of Lorin Maazel. Delfs won great admiration in Pittsburgh, particularly for his casual and educational concerts and for his ability to communicate directly with listeners. "These skills are important for a music director today," he told the Pittsburgh Press: "to get out of your ivory tower and talk to people who aren't subscribers, who know their classical music from cartoons and elevators."
In recent seasons Delfs' North American appearances have included concerts with the Dallas Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra (both in Philadelphia and at Carnegie Hall), the Minnesota Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, among others.
In Europe, Andreas Delfs has led such distinguished ensembles the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, the Tonhalle Orchestra of Zurich, the Beethovenhalle Orchestra of Bonn, the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, the Netherlands Philharmonic, the Leipzig Radio Orchestra and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, with whom he has recorded an album for London-Decca. Additionally, Delfs has led tours of Germany with the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, and of Spain and France with the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra and soloist Mstislav Rostropovich, who immediately invited Delfs to conduct the Moscow Conservatory Orchestra at the inauguration of the new concert hall at the Evian Festival in France.
Born in Flensburg, Germany, he began the study of piano and music theory at age 5 and was added to the roster of the Flensburg Stadttheater as conductor and composer at 17. He studied with Christoph von Dohnányi and Aldo Ceccato at the Hamburg Conservatory and served as a staff conductor at the Luneburg Stadttheater. At 20, he became the Music Director of the Hamburg University Orchestra, the youngest person ever to hold this post, and Musical Assistant at the Hamburg State Opera. Guest conductor at the Bremen State Theatre in 1981. Enrolling at The Juilliard School upon the recommendation of Dohnányi, he studied with Jorge Mester and Sixten Ehrling, and won the Bruno Walter Memorial Scholarship on his way to receiving a Master's degree in 1984.