Christoph Eschenbach is Music Director of both the National Symphony Orchestra and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC. Prior to assuming those positions in 2010, he was music director of the Orchestre de Paris and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Mr. Eschenbach made his San Francisco Symphony debut as a pianist in 1972 and his conducting debut in 1975. He appeared here most recently for two weeks of concerts in 2010, in which he led works by Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Zemlinsky, and Dalbavie. Before becoming a conductor, Mr. Eschenbach earned a distinguished reputation as a concert pianist. He began winning major piano competitions at age eleven and made his United States debut in 1969 with the Cleveland Orchestra and George Szell, with whom he later studied conducting for three years. Mr. Eschenbach made his conducting debut in Hamburg in 1972. He has held the posts of chief conductor and artistic director of the Tonhalle Orchestra (1982 to 1986); music director of the Houston Symphony (1988 to 1999); music director of the Ravinia Festival (1994 to 2003); music director of the NDR Symphony Orchestra (1998 to 2004); and artistic director of the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival (1999 to 2002). He has been Principal Conductor of the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival International Orchestral Academy since 2004.
Last season, Mr. Eschenbach toured Australia and the Far East with the Vienna Philharmonic, as well as conducting that orchestra in Vienna. Other highlights included performances with the Central Philharmonic Orchestra of China, the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Filarmonia della Scala, the Czech Philharmonic, and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, to name just a few. Highlights of Mr. Eschenbach’s current season include performances with the NDR Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, and Orchestre de Paris, as well as a tour of Germany with the London Philharmonic, concerts with the Israel Philharmonic, and a tour of Australia and Europe with the Australian Youth Orchestra. He returns to the Vienna State Opera to conduct performances of Richard Strauss’s Cappricio, leads the National Symphony at Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, and returns to the Boston Symphony and the Los Angeles and New York philharmonics.
Mr. Eschenbach has made numerous recordings as a conductor and pianist, in music ranging from Bach to contemporary works. This season, he is scheduled to record with the Vienna Philharmonic and Lang Lang. His honors include France’s Légion d’Honneur and Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres; the Officer’s Cross with Star and Ribbon of the German Order of Merit; and the Commander’s Cross of the German Order of Merit. He is the recipient of the Leonard Bernstein Award from the Pacific Music Festival, where he was co-artistic director from 1992 to 1998.