Kelvin Smith Family Endowed Chair
The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst is among today’s most distinguished conductors. The 2017-18 season marks his sixteenth year as music director of The Cleveland Orchestra, which is marking its 100th season. The New York Times has declared Cleveland under Welser-Möst’s direction to be the “best American orchestra“ for its virtuosity, elegance of sound, variety of color, and chamber-like musical cohesion. The Cleveland Orchestra has been repeatedly praised for its innovative programming, support for new musical works, and for its renewed success in semi-staged and staged opera productions. Franz Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra are frequent guests at many prestigious concert halls and festivals around the world, including regular appearances in Vienna, New York, and Miami, and at the festivals of Salzburg and Lucerne. In the past decade, The Cleveland Orchestra has been hugely successful in building up a new and, notably, younger audience through groundbreaking programs involving families, students, and universities.
As a guest conductor, Mr. Welser-Möst enjoys a close and productive relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic. His recent performances with the Philharmonic have included critically-acclaimed opera productions at the Salzburg Festival (Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier in 2014, Beethoven’s Fidelio in 2015, and Strauss’s Die Liebe der Danae in 2016), as well as appearances at New York’s Carnegie Hall, at the Lucerne Festival, and in concert at La Scala Milan. He has conducted the Philharmonic’s celebrated annual New Year’s Day concert twice, viewed by millions worldwide. This past season, he led the Vienna Philharmonic in performances in Vienna and on tour in the United States, featuring three concerts at Carnegie Hall in February 2017.
Mr. Welser-Möst also maintains relationships with a number of other European orchestras and opera companies. His 2016-17 schedule featured Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro with La Scala Milan and performances of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony with the Dresden Staatskapelle. Other recent engagements have included performances with Munich’s Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchestra, as well as his acclaimed debut with Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. In December 2015, he led the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic in the Nobel Prize concert in Stockholm.
From 2010 to 2014, Franz Welser-Möst served as general music director of the Vienna State Opera. His partnership with the company included an acclaimed new production of Wagner’s Ring cycle and a series of critically-praised new productions, as well as performances of a wide range of other operas, particularly works by Wagner and Richard Strauss. Prior to his years with the Vienna State Opera, Mr. Welser-Möst led the Zurich Opera across a decade-long tenure, conducting more than forty new productions and culminating in three seasons as general music director (2005-08).
Franz Welser-Möst’s recordings and videos have won major awards, including a Gramophone Award, Diapason d’Or, Japanese Record Academy Award, and two Grammy nominations. The recent Salzburg Festival production he conducted of Der Rosenkavalier was awarded with the Echo Klassik for “best opera recording.“ With The Cleveland Orchestra, his recordings include DVD recordings of live performances of five of Bruckner’s symphonies and a multi-DVD set of major works by Brahms, featuring Yefim Bronfman and Julia Fischer as soloists. A companion video recording of Brahms’s German Requiem was released in 2017.
For his talents and dedication, Mr. Welser-Möst has received honors that include the Vienna Philharmonic’s “Ring of Honor” for his longstanding personal and artistic relationship with the ensemble, as well as recognition from the Western Law Center for Disability Rights, honorary membership in the Vienna Singverein, appointment as an Academician of the European Academy of Yuste, a Decoration of Honor from the Republic of Austria for his artistic achievements, and the Kilenyi Medal from the Bruckner Society of America.