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Christoph Eschenbach

Christoph Eschenbach overcame the most difficult of circumstances to become one of the finest pianists and conductors of the late 20th century. He was orphaned at a young age: his mother died in childbirth and his father, musicologist Heribert Ringmann, was killed in battle during World War II. His adoptive grandmother was then killed while trying to extract him and herself from the path of the Allied armies. Fortunately for the young boy, his mother's cousin, Wallydore Eschenbach, tracked him down after the war and adopted him from the refugee camp that would likely have claimed his life. It is from her side of the family that he eventually took his better-known surname.

Eschenbach began studying piano at the age of eight, taught by his adoptive mother. She quickly realized his talents and enrolled him in the Hamburg Hochschule für Musik, where he studied both piano and conducting. It was with his first prize at the Clara Haskil Competition in Montreux, France, in 1965, that he finally made his mark. This new notoriety led to a London concert debut in 1966, and a prestigious debut with the Cleveland Orchestra and George Szell in 1969. Szell was impressed with his musicianship and gave him lessons in conducting, starting a close relationship that lasted until Szell's death in 1970.

Notable in his programs were a large number of works from 20th century composers, such as Bartók, Henze, Rihm, Reimann, Blacher, and Ruzicka; however, his performances of Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert were considered revelatory.

Eschenbach made his conducting debut in 1972 with a performance of Bruckner's Symphony No. 3, soon followed by Verdi's La Traviata at Darmstadt in 1978. He was permanent guest conductor, then chief conductor, of the Zürich Tonhalle Orchestra (1971-1985).

In 1988 he began his most significant and productive association to date as music director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, where he remained until 1999. He also formed the Houston Symphony Chamber Players from its ranks, recording with it Kurt Weill's The Rise and Fall of the City Mahagonny suite, Tobias Picker's Las Encantadoras, and the violin concertos of John Adams and Philip Glass.

From 1991 to 1998 he was co-artistic director of the Pacific Music Festival, along with Michael Tilson Thomas. In 1994 Eschenbach was appointed music director of the Ravinia Festival, the summer outdoor season of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In the 1998-1999 season he became music director of the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra of Hamburg, and, concurrently, artistic director of its Schleswig-Holstein Festival. In 2003, he became music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he continued to guest conduct from 2007-2010. Eschenbach spent the 2010-2011 season as music director of the National Symphony Orchestra. Discs on which he conducts include Elgar & Schnittke: Viola Concertos (2009), The Best of Lang Lang (2010), and Remembering JFK - 50th Anniversary Concert (2011).
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Schumann: Dichterliebe, Op. 48; Liederkreis, Op.39; 7 Lieder from Myrten, Op. 25 (Nos, 1-3, 7-8, 13, 24)

Title: Dichterliebe, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 48

1. Dichterliebe, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 48: Im Wunderschönen Monat Mai

2. Dichterliebe, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 48: Aus Meinen Tränen Spriessen

3. Dichterliebe, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 48: Die Rose, Die Lilie, Die Taube

4. Dichterliebe, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 48: Wenn Ich In Deine Augen Seh

5. Dichterliebe, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 48: Ich Will Meine Seele Tauchen

6. Dichterliebe, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 48: Im Rhein, Im Heilegen Strome

7. Dichterliebe, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 48: Ich Grolle Nicht

8. Dichterliebe, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 48: Und Wussten's Die Blumen

9. Dichterliebe, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 48: Das Ist Ein Flöten Und Geigen

10. Dichterliebe, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 48: Hör' Ich Das Liedchen Klingen

11. Dichterliebe, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 48: Ein Jungling Liebt Ein Madchen

12. Dichterliebe, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 48: Am Leuchtenden Sommermorgen

13. Dichterliebe, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 48: Ich Hab' Im Traum Geweinet

14. Dichterliebe, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 48: Allnächtlich Im Traume

15. Dichterliebe, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 48: Aus Alten Märchen

16. Dichterliebe, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, Op. 48: Die Alten Bösen Lieder

Title: Liederkreis, 12 Songs For Voice & Piano, Op. 39

17. Liederkreis, 12 Songs For Voice & Piano, Op. 39: In Der Fremde

18. Liederkreis, 12 Songs For Voice & Piano, Op. 39: Intermezzo

19. Liederkreis, 12 Songs For Voice & Piano, Op. 39: Waldesgespräch

20. Liederkreis, 12 Songs For Voice & Piano, Op. 39: Die Stille

21. Liederkreis, 12 Songs For Voice & Piano, Op. 39: Mondnacht

22. Liederkreis, 12 Songs For Voice & Piano, Op. 39: Schöne Fremde

23. Liederkreis, 12 Songs For Voice & Piano, Op. 39: Auf Einer Burg

24. Liederkreis, 12 Songs For Voice & Piano, Op. 39: In Der Fremde (II)

25. Liederkreis, 12 Songs For Voice & Piano, Op. 39: Wehmut

26. Liederkreis, 12 Songs For Voice & Piano, Op. 39: Zwielicht

27. Liederkreis, 12 Songs For Voice & Piano, Op. 39: Im Walde

28. Liederkreis, 12 Songs For Voice & Piano, Op. 39: Frühlingsnacht

Title: Myrthen, 26 Songs For Voice & Piano, Op. 25

29. Myrthen, 26 Songs For Voice & Piano, Op. 25: Widmung

30. Myrthen, 26 Songs For Voice & Piano, Op. 25: Freisinn

31. Myrthen, 26 Songs For Voice & Piano, Op. 25: Der Nussbaum

32. Myrthen, 26 Songs For Voice & Piano, Op. 25: Die Lotusblume

33. Myrthen, 26 Songs For Voice & Piano, Op. 25: Talismane

34. Myrthen, 26 Songs For Voice & Piano, Op. 25: Hochlanders Abschied

35. Myrthen, 26 Songs For Voice & Piano, Op. 25: Du Bist Wie Eine Blume

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