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Manfred Honeck

Conductor Manfred Honeck's conducting career rapidly grew through the 1990s after he learned conducting from the inside as an orchestral musician. He has been the conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony since 2008 and has instituted a vigorous recording program with that group. Born September 17, 1958, in Nenzing, Austria, Honeck received his musical training at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna. After graduation, he took a position as a violist with the Vienna State Opera Orchestra, making him eligible for membership in the Vienna Philharmonic; that group accepted him. He began working as a conductor with the Vienna Youth Orchestra. In 1987, conductor Claudio Abbado invited Honeck to assist him in conducting the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra in Vienna. His breakthrough performance was at the Gustav Mahler Festival in Kassel in 1989, conducting the centenary performance of the world premiere of Mahler's Symphony No. 1 in D major ("Titan"). Honeck made his operatic debut with the Vienna Volksoper in 1989, leading Johann Strauss Jr.'s Die Fledermaus. Later in the season, he was invited to lead the company in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro and Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia. In 1990, he was invited to conduct the gala concert of the Vienna Philharmonic commemorating the 75th anniversary of the dedication of the Wiener Konzerthaus. Other conducting opportunities quickly opened up: he led the Berlin State Orchestra, the Berlin State Opera at the Unter den Linden Theater, and the Hamburg State Opera. At the latter position, he was again standing in Mahler's footprints when he led the official Mahler production of Mozart's Così fan tutte. In 1991, Honeck received a five-year contract with the Zürich Opera House as First Kapellmeister. There, he added Massenet's Hérodiade and Giordano's operas Fedora and Andrea Chénier to his credits and conducted the first performance of Herbert Willi's Schlafes Bruder. A high point of this early part of his career was his debut at Salzburg, conducting the Vienna Philharmonic during the Mozart Week of 1994. In 1996, Honeck became the chief conductor of the MDR (Central German Radio) Symphony Orchestra of Leipzig. In 1997, he was appointed music director of the Norwegian National Opera, and in 1998, he was named the principal guest conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic. In the 1990s and early 2000s, he led a variety of ensembles in recordings, including the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra; with the latter, he issued a recording of Allan Pettersson's Symphony No. 12 on the CPO label in 2006. He was the chief conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra (2000-2006) and music director of the Staatsoper Stuttgart (2007-2011). In 2008, Honeck began a tenure with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra that has been extended through the mid-2020s. With the Pittsburgh Symphony, Honeck has recorded for Exton Classics and for the orchestra's in-house Reference Recordings label. He has continued to specialize in late Romantic repertory, recording several Mahler symphonies, Bruckner's Symphony No. 4 for Reference in 2015, and suites from Richard Strauss' Elektra and Der Rosenkavalier for the same label the following year. In 2017, Reference Recordings released the Honeck/Pittsburgh recording of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47, powerfully coupled with Barber's Adagio for Strings. Honeck's 2019 album Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 with the Pittsburgh Symphony was nominated for a Grammy Award. Honeck and the orchestra remained busy through the COVID-19 pandemic, issuing recordings of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 in 2021 and Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68 ("Pastoral"), in 2022 on Reference Recordings, among other works.
© James Manheim /TiVo


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