Christoph Eschenbach, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Robert McDuffie
Christoph Eschenbach was appointed Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris in 1999. He is Principal Conductor of the Hamburg NDR Symphony Orchestra and Artistic Director of the Schieswig-Holstein Music Festival. He has also held the position of Music Director of the Ravinia Festival, the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Music Director of the Houston Symphony. 1999 was Eschenbach’s final season with the Houston Symphony, although he returned to Houston in the position of Conductor Laureat.
Eschenbach’s season at Schleswig-Holstein began with a performance of Mahler’s massive Symphony No. 8, the Symphony of a Thousand, and his season at the Hamburg NDR began with a performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 conducted from the piano, followed by Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony. European engagements in the 1998-99 season included the London Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Orchestre de Paris, the London Symphony, and a ten-city tour with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London. In the United States for the 1998-99 season, he led performances with the Cleveland, Chicago and Boston Symphony Orchestras. At the 1998 Ravinia Festival, Eschenbach led the Chicago Symphony in repertoire ranging from Beethoven and Brahms to Messiaen and Takemitsu. A highlight of the 1999-2000 season included a Millennium concert on January 2, 2000 in Hamburg with the NDR Symphony, featuring seven world premiere commissions by Pintsher, Reimann, Rihm, Rouse, Ruzicka, Sheng, and Turnage.
A prolific recording artist, Eschenbach’s recent recordings with the Houston Symphony include the 1997 Diapason d’Or winning all-Christopher Rouse disc for Telarc, an all-Richard Strauss disc featuring soprano Renée Fleming, and an exploration of early works by composers of the Second Viennese School including Schoenberg’s tone-poem Pelleas und Melisande. Other recordings include Schubert Orchestrated, Bruckner’s Symphony No. 2, Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, and Schoenberg Orchestrations. Eschenbach has also recorded Mozart, Dvoräk, and Brahms with the Houston Symphony, and his four Schnittke concerti CDs -- two with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, one with the London Philharmonia, one with the NDR Hamburg, and all with Gidon Kremer -- are considered essentials of the catalog. Other recordings include an all-Strauss disc with Vienna Philharmonic and soloists Renée Fleming, Barbara Bonney, and Susan Graham, the four symphonies and overtures of Schumann, and Messianen’s Quartet For the End of Time with the Houston Chamber Players.
In 1990, Eschenbach was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the German Order of Merit for outstanding achievements as pianist and conductor, and in 1993 he received the Commander’s Cross. That same year the Pacific Music Festival presented him with the Leonard Bernstein Award, where he served as artistic director. An ardent champion of young musicians, he has led summer master classes for both the instrumentalists’ and singers’ programs of Ravinia’s Stearns Institute for Young Artists.