Michael Gielen Short Biography


1927            Born in Dresden on 29 July


1940–1950 Family emigrates to Argentina. Tuition in piano and music theory, then studied music and philosophy; first compositions. Works as répetiteur at the Teatro Colón with Erich Kleiber


1950/51     Returns to Europe, to the Vienna State Opera; works as repetiteur and has first encounters with Karajan, Mitropoulos, Böhm and others


1952           First conducting appearance at the Vienna Konzerthaus; first recordings for American record labels


1954           First conducting appearance at the Vienna State Opera


1960–64     Principal Conductor at the Royal Opera, Stockholm


1964–1984 Collaboration with the Southern Radio Symphony Orchestra (which later became the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra); regular conductor for a while alongside Sergiu Celibidache


1965           World premiere of B. A. Zimmermann’s opera “Die Soldaten” in Cologne and world premiere of Ligeti’s “Requiem” at Swedish Radio, Stockholm


1966–1975  Regular collaboration with the Symphony Orchestra of Saarland Radio (which later became the Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra, then once more in 2008 with its successor organization, the German Radio Philharmonic)


1967           Start of regular collaboration with the Southwestern Radio Orchestra (which later became the Symphony Orchestra of Southwestern Radio). Before that, a record production for Vox around 1956/57 and a concert in 1961.


1968–1973          Principal Conductor of the Belgian National Orchestra


1973–1975/6      Principal Conductor at the Dutch Opera, Amsterdam


1977–1987          Head of Opera and General Music Director at the Frankfurt Opera


1978–1981          First Guest Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, London


1980–1986          Music Director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra


1985           Hessian Culture Prize


1986           Theodor W. Adorno Prize of the City of Frankfurt


1986–1999  Principal Conductor of the SWF Symphony Orchestra, Baden-Baden (which later became the SWR Symphony Orchestra of Baden- Baden and Freiburg); regular Guest Conductor from 1999; Honorary Conductor since 2002; last appearance with the orchestra in January 2014


1987–1995 Professor of Conducting in Salzburg


From 1990 Principal Guest Conductor of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra (which later became the Berlin Konzerthaus Orchestra); later only concerts with the Staatskapelle; last appearance in October 2012


From 1991 Music Director at the Berlin State Opera; later only concerts with the Staatskapelle; last appearance in October 2012


1996           Music Prize of the City of Vienna


1997           Grand Silver Order of Merit for services rendered to the Republic of Austria


1999           Frankfurt Music Prize


2005           Publication of the autobiography “Unbedingt Musik”


2007           Theatre prize “Der Faust” for lifetime achievement


2010           Music Prize of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation • Knight Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany • Culture Medal of Upper Austria


2014           Michael Gielen ends his conducting activities for health reasons. Last conducting appearance with the NDR Symphony Orchestra in February 2014.

2019           Michael Gielen passes away on March 8th, at the age of 91.