The 2007/08 season marks the end of CHRISTOPH VON DOHNÁNYI’s reign as Principal Conductor of the Philharmonia, a relationship that started in 1997, prior to which he served for three years as their Principal Guest Conductor. In addition to the subscription concerts at the South Bank Centre and in venues around England, this season sees Dohnányi and the orchestra giving a three-concert residency in Vienna’s Musikverein, touring Germany, and making a substantial West Coast tour of the U.S. They have developed a successful collaboration with the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, their many performances there including productions of Strauss’ Arabella, Die Frau ohne Schatten and Die schweigsame Frau, Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron, Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex, and Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel. In concert, they also performed all of Brahms’ symphonies in 1994. From 2008/09 onwards, Dohnányi will become Honorary Conductor for Life.
Dohnányi has also held the position of Chief Conductor of the NDR Symphony Orchestra since September 2004.
Born in Berlin, Dohnányi began to study law in Munich. After two years he chose to join the Munich Academy of Music to study composition, piano, and conducting. At the end of his studies he was awarded the Richard Strauss Prize for conducting by the City of Munich and continued to study with his grandfather, Ernst von Dohnányi, at Florida State University.
In 1953, Dohnányi was hired as repetiteur and conductor at the Frankfurt Opera by Sir Georg Solti. At the age of 27 he moved to Lübeck, where he became Germany’s youngest General Music Director, before becoming Chief Conductor at first in Kassel and then of the Westdeutsche Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra in Cologne. From 1968 he served as General Music Director in Frankfurt and, from 1972, as Director of the Frankfurt Opera. From 1977 to 1984 he was Intendant and Chief Conductor of Hamburg Opera.
In December 1981 Dohnányi first conducted the Cleveland Orchestra. He was Music Director Designate from 1982 to 1984 and served as its sixth Music Director from September 1984 to August 2002, becoming the orchestra’s first Music Director Laureate in September 2002. During Dohnányi's tenure, they toured extensively around the U.S., Asia, and Europe, performing concerts for the Salzburg Festival, BBC Proms, and Edinburgh Festival, and were in residence at Carnegie Hall a number of times. His many recordings with the orchestra include the complete symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms, and Schumann, and Wagner’s Die Walküre and Das Rheingold.
Dohnányi’s discography with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra includes Fidelio, Wozzeck, Lulu, Erwartung, Salome, Der fliegende Holländer, and symphonic works by Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky. He has recorded the violin concertos of Glass and Schnittke with Gidon Kremer, the Dvorák Piano Concerto with András Schiff, and orchestral transcriptions of chamber music by Brahms and Mahler.
Christoph von Dohnányi has been a guest conductor with all the major orchestras and opera houses in the U.S. as well as in Europe. As a regular guest at the Salzburg Festival, he has led the Vienna Philharmonic in new productions including Salome, Der Rosenkavalier, Così fan tutte, Die Zauberflöte, Erwartung, Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, and Ariadne auf Naxos, as well as the world premieres of Henze’s Die Bassariden and Cerha’s Baal.