Biography

Conductor

CHRISTOPH ESCHENBACH, born in Wrocław in 1940, was a war orphan, raised in Schleswig-Holstein and Aachen by his mother’s cousin, the pianist Wallydore Eschenbach. Her lessons laid the foundation of his musical career. Following piano and conducting studies with Eliza Hansen and Wilhelm Brückner-Rüggeberg, he won the ARD Competition Munich in 1962 and the Clara Haskil Competition in 1965. He made his San Francisco Symphony as a pianist in 1972 and his conducting debut in 1975.
Supported by mentors including George Szell and Herbert von Karajan, the focus of Mr. Eschenbach’s career increasingly moved to conducting. He was principal conductor and artistic director of the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich from 1982 to 1986, music director of Houston Symphony from 1988 to 1999, artistic director of the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival from 1999 to 2002, music director of the NDR Symphony Orchestra from 1998 to 2004, music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 2003 to 2008, and music director of Orchestre de Paris from 2000 to 2010. From 2010 to 2017, he was musical director of the National Symphony Orchestra. Alongside these appointments, he has appeared with orchestras including the Vienna and Berlin philharmonics, Chicago Symphony, Dresden Staatskapelle, La Scala, London Philharmonic, and the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo.
Mr. Eschenbach’s recordings have received numerous awards, including the German Record Critics’ Prize, the MIDEM Classical Award, and a Grammy Award. He has been awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, and he is also a Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, a holder of the German Federal Cross of Merit, and a winner of the Leonard Bernstein Award. In 2015, he received the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize for his achievements as conductor and pianist.