De Duitse pianist en dirigent Christoph Eschenbach wordt vandaag tachtig jaar.

Na de jaren negentig ben ik uiteraard altijd met veel plezier naar klassieke muziek blijven luisteren en ik heb bij de jaarlijkse uitverkoop van de bibliotheek telkens zeker evenveel klassieke cd’s als popcd’s gekocht, maar ik heb echter nog slechts uitzonderlijk over klassieke musici geschreven. Voor deze man wil ik toch een uitzondering maken. Ik heb hem (op televisie) ooit eens een uitvoering van Ravels Boléro zien dirigeren, uitsluitend met… de ogen! Indrukwekkend!

Eschenbach was born in BreslauGermany (now Wrocław, Poland). His parents were Margarethe (née Jaross) and Heribert Ringmann. He was orphaned during World War II. His mother died giving birth to him; his father, a politically active anti-Nazi, was sent to the Eastern front as part of a Nazi punishment battalion where he was killed. As a result of this trauma, Eschenbach did not speak for a year, until he was asked if he wanted to play music. Wallydore Eschenbach (née Jaross), his mother’s cousin, adopted him in 1946 and began to teach him to play the piano. At age 11, he attended a concert conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler which had a great impact on him. In 1955, Eschenbach enrolled at the Musikhochschule in Cologne, studying piano with Hans-Otto Schmidt-Neuhaus and conducting with Wilhelm Brückner-Rüggeberg. He then pursued further studies at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg with Eliza Hansen [de] (piano) and Wilhelm Brückner-Rüggeberg (conducting).

As a pianist, Eschenbach has won numerous first-place piano competition prizes, including first prize in the Clara Haskil Competition in VeveySwitzerland in 1965. In 1964, he made his first recording (of Mozart) for Deutsche Grammophon and signed a contract with the label. Eschenbach continued to study conducting with George Szell, with whom he worked for more than three years. In addition, he counted Herbert von Karajan as a mentor.

In 1981, Eschenbach became principal guest conductor of the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, and was chief conductor from 1982 to 1986. He was co-artistic director of the Pacific Music Festival from 1992 to 1998. He was chief conductor of the NDR Symphony OrchestraHamburg from 1998 to 2004. He was artistic director of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival from 1999 until 2003. From 2000 to 2010, Eschenbach was Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris.

In the United States, Eschenbach was music director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra from 1988 to 1999. The orchestra toured Japan and Europe under his tenure as well made several recordings with Koch International Classics and RCA. In honour of his achievements and tenure with the Houston Symphony, the City of Houston placed a bronze commemorative star with his name in front of Jones Hall, the performance home of the Houston Symphony. He was music director of the Ravinia Festival from 1994 to 2005.

Eschenbach has made more than 80 recordings as piano soloist, conductor, or both, has appeared in several television documentaries, and has made many concert broadcasts for different European, Japanese and U.S. networks. Eschenbach is credited with helping and supporting talented young musicians in their career development, including soprano Renée Fleming, pianists Tzimon Barto and Lang Lang, cellists Claudio Bohórquez, and Daniel Müller-Schott, and soprano Marisol Montalvo.

On 25 September 2008 the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) appointed Eschenbach as its sixth music director, effective with the 2010-11 season, as well as the newly created music director of the Kennedy Center. In September 2011 the NSO and the Kennedy Center announced the extension of Eschenbach’s contract through the 2014-2015 season. In March 2014, the organisations announced an extension of Eschenbach’s contract through the 2016-2017 season. In February 2015, the NSO announced the scheduled conclusion of Eschenbach’s tenure as NSO music director at the end of the 2016-2017 season, at which time he is scheduled to become the NSO’s conductor laureate.

In November 2017 the Konzerthausorchester Berlin announced the appointment of Eschenbach as its next chief conductor, effective with the 2019-2020 season, with an initial contract of 3 years. [Wikipedia]

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