Frieder Bernius began his career primarily as a conductor of choral music, focusing largely on repertory from the Baroque and early Classical periods. Gradually he took a greater interest in orchestral music while still maintaining a preference for choral works. He has favored authentic performance practices and has become one of the leaders in the historically informed performance (HIP) movement. Bernius has founded a number of choral and instrumental ensembles, among them the Stuttgart Chamber Choir, the Stuttgart Baroque Orchestra, and the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra. He has made over 40 recordings that have appeared on several different labels, including Sony Classical, Carus, and Orfeo.
Frieder Bernius was born in Ludwigshafen, Germany, in 1947. He studied music at the Stuttgart Musikhochschule and the University of Tubingen. He exhibited an interest early on in choral music, specifically from the Baroque era, and in 1968 founded the Chamber Choir of Stuttgart (Kammerchor Stuttgart). He and his group steadily built a reputation as one of the finest choral ensembles in Germany.
By the late '70s, Bernius and the Stuttgart Choir were performing with major German orchestras and appearing in broadcast concerts throughout Germany and parts of Europe. In 1985 Bernius founded the Stuttgart Baroque Orchestra and six years later the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra.
By then he was well established as one of the leading figures in the HIP movement, not least because of a spate of citations he had garnered around this time, including two important ones in 1990: Holland's prestigious Edison Prize, awarded for his recording with the Cologne Musica Fiata of Schutz's Symphoniae Sacrae III; and France's Diapason d'Or for his CD of Zelenka's Missa Dei Filii, with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra.
Bernius began recording with Sony Classical in 1989, and among his most successful early recordings for that label was that of Gluck's opera Orfeo ed Euridice (1992), with Nancy Argenta and Michael Chance. Along with his successes in the recording studio in the 1990s and first decade of the new century, Bernius continued to lead many highly acclaimed concerts at home and abroad with his three Stuttgart ensembles. Among his later recordings is the 2006 CD of Symphonies No. 5 and No. 6 by Johann Wenzel Kalliwoda on the Orfeo label. In this effort, Bernius conducted the Hofkapelle Stuttgart, the ensemble he became music director of in 2002. Bernius also recorded Handel's Messiah (2009), Cherubini's Requiem (2010), and Zumsteeg's Die Geisterinsel (2011). Also, in June 2009, he won the Bach Medal of Leipzig.