Born in Breslau, Germany (today Wroclaw, Poland), Christoph Eschenbach studied piano with Professor Eliza Hansen and won in his young age numerous piano competitions. In 1965 the first prize of the Clara Haskil competition in Luzern was the original event of his soloist carrier. In demand worldwide by famous concert halls and orchestras, he met George Szell who invited him to tour with the Cleveland Orchestra. In the same period Christoph Eschenbach developed a great artistic collaboration with Herbert von Karajan as well.
Successful conducting studies passed in Hamburg and the influence of Szell and Karajan, the two mentors, naturally led him to initiate his carrier as a conductor. He began in 1972, and made his debut in the USA in 1975 with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.
Nowadays Christoph Eschenbach is in demand as a distinguished guest conductor with the finest orchestras and opera houses throughout the world (Vienna, Berlin, Paris, London, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Shanghai , Rome, Milan, Dresden, Leipzig, Munich, Amsterdam, etc.) as well as prestigious festivals (Salzburg, Tanglewood, Ravinia, Saint Petersburg, Granada, Rheingau, Schleswig Holstein, etc.).
His grand classic repertoire is ranging from J.S. Bach to music of our time and reflects his commitment to not just canonical works but also to the music of the late 20th and early 21st century.
In the field of opera, he has conducted “Così fan tutte” at Covent Garden in 1984 and at the Houston Opera, as well as the “Nozze di Figaro”, “Don Giovanni”, “Così fan tutte”, “Der Rosenkavalier”, “Lohengrin”, “Parsifal” (staged by Robert Wilson), “Salome” and “Elektra”, (staged by Andrei Serban), “Parsifal” at the Bayreuth Festival and at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg. In November 2001, “Arabella” at the New York Metropolitan and “Don Giovanni” (staged by Peter Stein) in 2004 for the 50th anniversary of the Chicago Lyric Opera. During the 2005/2006 season, he has conducted at the Théâtre du Châtelet a production of Wagner’s “Ring des Nibelungen”, staged by Robert Wilson. In December 2010 he has conducted with great success “Mathis der Maler” by Paul Hindemith at the Opera Paris Bastille. More recently, he inaugurated the Mozart / Da Ponte cycle at the Salzburg Summer Festival with “Così fan tutte” in 2013 and “Don Giovanni” in 2014. That same season, he has also conducted “Idomeneo” at the Vienna State Opera.
Christoph Eschenbach has been the Music Director of the Tonhalle-Gesellschaft in Zurich from 1982 to 1986, of the Houston Symphony Orchestra from 1988 to 1999 and of the NDR Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg from 1998 to 2004. After ten years as Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris from September 2000 to August 2010, and four years for the Philadelphia Orchestra, from September 2003 to 2008, he became in September 2010 Music Director of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as well as the Washington National Symphony.
To his important discography as a pianist should be added numerous recordings at the head of the Houston Symphonic Orchestra, the Hamburg NDR Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra (Tchaikovski, Mahler, Saint-Saëns, Bartók), the Orchestre de Paris with Berlioz, Bruckner, Dusapin, Berio, Ravel, Dalbavie, Zemlinsky, Roussel (the complete symphonies), Beethoven (the Piano Concertos No. 1 and 4, nominated for the 2009 Grammy Awards) and the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Bruckner, Symphony No. 6, Beethoven, “Missa Solemnis”, Messiaen, “Des Canyons aux Etoiles”). The complete symphonies by Mahler recorded with the Orchestre de Paris is watchable in streaming on his website. His last recording with the Washington NSO was issued for the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Center. After the recent release of “Die schöne Müllerin”, the “Schwanengesang” and the “Winterreise” recorded for Harmonia Mundi, Christoph Eschenbach and Matthias Goerne are continuing their fructuous collaboration and regularly perform in recitals of voice and piano, presenting the cycles of Lieder by Schubert, Brahms and Schumann.
For Christoph Eschenbach, to transmit and to discover are fundamental activities, this is why he regularly holds master-classes (Manhattan School of Music, Kronberg Academy, CNSM of Paris) and collaborates with summer academies and youth orchestras such as the Schleswig Holstein Academy Orchestra, the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester (GMJO), the Curtis Institute.
Christoph Eschenbach has received the 2014 Grammy Award for his recording of works by Hindemith performed with the NDR Symphony Orchestra and the violinist Midori.
He had the honour to be named Chevalier of the French Légion d’Honneur in January 2003, Officer of the National Order of Merit in May 2006 and decorated with the Order of Merit of the Federal Rebublic of Germany. He has been made French Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and has received the Leonard-Bernstein award of the Pacific Music Festival. In June 2015 he received the Ernst von Siemens music Awards (described as the “Nobel Price for Music”) in honour of his life’s dedication to music.
As of June 2017