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Christoph von Dohnányi
Christoph von Dohnányi  Biography
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Christoph von Dohnányi

Born in Berlin, Christoph von Dohnányi studied law in Munich, but soon chose to devote himself full-time to music. On completion of his studies he was awarded the Richard Strauss Prize by the City of Munich. He pursued his studies in the USA under his grandfather, Ernst von Dohnányi, at Florida State University and subsequently completed a conductors' course at Tanglewood.

In 1953 Sir Georg Solti, then General Music Director at the Frankfurt Opera, appointed him as repetiteur and conductor. In April 1957, at the age of 27, he moved to Lübeck where he became the youngest General Music Director and was then appointed Chief Conductor of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester, Cologne in 1964.

In 1968 he became General Music Director and then, in 1972, Director of the Frankfurt Opera, where he successfully balanced productions of traditional opera and innovative music theatre. During his tenure such directors and designers as András Fricsay, Klaus Michael Grüber, Peter Mussbach, Rudolf Noelte, Volker Schlöndorff and Erich Wonder made highly acclaimed débuts. Agnes Baltsa, Ileana Cotrubas, Eva Marton and Julia Varady also launched their international careers in Frankfurt. In collaboration with Achim Freyer as stage designer, Dohnányi himself also directed new productions of Le nozze di Figaro and Fidelio.

In 1977 Christoph von Dohnányi was appointed Intendant and Chief Conductor of the Hamburg State Opera, where he continued to engage up-and-coming theatre directors and designers such as Luc Bondy and Adolf Dresen, as well as Jürgen Flimm, Herbert Wernicke and again Achim Freyer.

In September 1984, Christoph von Dohnányi became Music Director of The Cleveland Orchestra. In addition to the subscription concerts in Cleveland, Dohnányi and the orchestra have undertaken many tours throughout the USA, Asia and Europe, including visits to the Salzburg Festival, Proms, Edinburgh Festival and Carnegie Hall residencies. In May 1998 they toured Japan and, for the first time in The Cleveland Orchestra's history, performed in China. With The Cleveland Orchestra he has recorded all the symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms and Schumann, as well as the complete orchestral works of Webern. He has recorded almost all the symphonies of Bruckner and Mahler and selected symphonies and symphonic works of Dvorák, Mozart, Richard Strauss, Schubert and Tchaikovsky. His recordings of 20th-century symphonic works comprise music by Adams, Birtwistle, Busoni, Ives, Ravel, Shostakovich and Varèse. Operatic recordings with The Cleveland Orchestra include Wagner's Das Rheingold and Die Walküre.

With the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra he has recorded such operas as Wozzeck and Lulu by Berg, Beethoven's Fidelio, Schoenberg's Erwartung, Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer and Salome by Richard Strauss. He has also recorded works by Dvorák with András Schiff, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Schnittke and Glass with Gidon Kremer, and transcriptions for orchestra of chamber music such as Beethoven's String Quartet Op.95 by Mahler and Brahms's Piano Quartet in G minor by Schoenberg.

As a regular guest at the Salzburg Festival, Christoph von Dohnányi has led the Vienna Philharmonic in several new productions. He first performed Hans Werner Henze's Die Bassariden and Cerha's Baal, and conducted Rosenkavalier and Così fan tutte there. In 1992 he and Luc Bondy collaborated on a highly acclaimed production of Salome. Other Salzburg productions have included Bartók's Duke Bluebeard's Castle , Schoenberg's Erwartung , a new production of Die Zauberflöte in 1997 and its successful revival at the 1999 Festival.

Christoph von Dohnányi has conducted such orchestras as the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, New York Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He has appeared in major international opera houses such as the Metropolitan Opera, New York, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, La Scala, Milan and Vienna State Opera, where he conducted a new production of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, a highlight of the 1992/93 Season.

At the start of the 1997/98 Season Dohnányi became Principal Conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra. In addition to their regular concert series in London and Paris, Christoph von Dohnányi and the Philharmonia have collaborated with the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, in productions of Strauss's Die Frau ohne Schatten, Schoenberg's Moses und Aron, Stravinsky's Oedipus rex and Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel. Future plans include Strauss's Die schweigsame Frau and Arabella.

Last season's London concerts included performances of Berg's Wozzeck, Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde, with Anne-Sofie von Otter and Ben Heppner, and the Ninth Symphony and Schoenberg's Erwartung with Hildegard Behrens. In the 1999-2000 season, the emphasis is on works by Beethoven and Schumann, Janácek, Bartók and Kurtág. The Philharmonia and Christoph von Dohnányi performed Beethoven symphonies on a tour of Switzerland during February 2000, and will appear in Zürich and Schleswig-Holstein in July 2000 with works by Schubert, Berg and Beethoven.

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