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Franz Welser-Möst

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Welser-Möst conducting the New York Philharmonic (27 February 2020)

Franz Leopold Maria Möst (born 16 August 1960), known professionally as Franz Welser-Möst, is an Austrian conductor. He is currently music director of the Cleveland Orchestra.


Franz Leopold Maria Möst was born in Linz, Austria, and later studied under the composer Balduin Sulzer. As a youth in Linz, he studied the violin and had developed an interest in conducting. After suffering injuries in a car crash that led to nerve damage, he stopped his violin studies and shifted full-time to conducting studies.[1]

In 1985, Möst assumed the stage name Welser-Möst at the suggestion of his mentor, Baron Andreas von Bennigsen of Liechtenstein, in an homage to the city of Wels where he grew up.[2][3] In 1986, he was adopted by Bennigsen. In 1992, Welser-Möst married Bennigsen's former wife, Angelika.[4][5][6] His first major debuts were at the Salzburg Festival in 1985, followed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 1986 and the Orchester Musikkollegium Winterthur in 1988.

Between 1986 and 1991, Welser-Möst served as the principal conductor of the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, Sweden, and in 1990 he became principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO).[7] His LPO tenure was controversial, with the orchestral players in the London Philharmonic giving him the nickname "Frankly Worse than Most".[4] He concluded his LPO tenure in 1996.

From 1995 to 2000, he was music director with the Zürich Opera House. He became general music director of the Zürich Opera in September 2005, with an original commitment to the Opera through 2011. However, he stood down from the Zürich post in July 2008, after having agreed to serve in the same capacity at the Vienna State Opera. Welser-Möst first conducted at the Vienna State Opera in 1987, as a substitute for Claudio Abbado in a production of Gioachino Rossini's L'italiana in Algeri. On 6 June 2007, the Austrian government announced the appointment of Welser-Möst as Generalmusikdirektor of the Vienna State Opera, effective September 2010, alongside Dominique Meyer as director (Staatsoperndirektor).[8][9] In September 2014, he announced his resignation from the Vienna State Opera, effective immediately.[10] Welser-Möst is an honorary member of the Wiener Singverein.[11] He conducted the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in its Vienna New Year's Concert in 2011, 2013 and 2023.[12]

Welser-Möst made his United States conducting debut with the St. Louis Symphony in 1989. He guest-conducted the Cleveland Orchestra for the first time in February 1993.[13] With the 2002–03 season, Welser-Möst became the seventh music director of the Cleveland Orchestra. His most recent contract extension is through the 2026–27 season.[14] During his tenure, Welser-Möst has led the orchestra's ongoing residency at the Musikverein in Vienna, which began with Welser-Möst's first European tour in 2003. In addition, under Welser-Möst, the orchestra initiated an annual residency at Miami's Carnival Center for the Performing Arts (later renamed the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts) in 2007.[15][16]

Under Welser-Möst, the orchestra began presenting regularly staged operas in 2009, reviving a practice by his predecessor Christoph von Dohnányi. These concert opera presentations have included a three-year cycle of the Mozart/Da Ponte operas, Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte,[15] Richard Strauss's Salome (2011–2012), Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen (2013–2014 and 2017–2018), Strauss' Daphne (2014–2015) and Ariadne auf Naxos (2018–2019), Bartók's The Miraculous Mandarin and Bluebeard's Castle in the 2015–16 season (a collaboration with the Joffrey Ballet), and Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande (2016–17).[15]

Welser-Möst published his autobiography, Als ich die Stille fand: Ein Plädoyer gegen den Lärm der Welt, in 2020; it was published in English in May 2021 under the title From Silence: Finding Calm in a Dissonant World.[17][18] In October 2023, Welser-Möst had a cancerous tumor removed and canceled his conducting performances from late October through the end of 2023.[19] In January 2024, The Cleveland Orchestra announced that Welser-Möst is to conclude his tenure as ts music director at the close of the 2026-2027 season.[20][21]


During his tenure with the LPO, Welser-Möst had established an exclusive recording contract with EMI. His 1996 recording of Franz Schmidt's Symphony No. 4 received the Gramophone Award for Best Orchestral Recording. The CDs of Anton Bruckner's Mass No. 3 and Te Deum and works of Erich Wolfgang Korngold both received Grammy Award nominations for "Best Classical Album." EMI struck a similar deal with Welser-Möst to record performances at the Zürich Opera and has released a number of DVDs of his Zürich opera productions. In 2008, EMI reissued many of Welser-Möst's earlier recordings in an eight CD set. In October 2007, Deutsche Grammophon released the first commercial recording featuring Welser-Möst with the Cleveland Orchestra, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.[22] This recording was soon followed by a disc of Richard Wagner Lieder performed by the orchestra and soloist Measha Brueggergosman. Several DVDs have been issued as well, including Bruckner's 7th and 8th symphonies, at Severance Hall, and the 5th and 4th at the St. Florian Monastery. In 2020, Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra released a three-disc recording featuring works from the past three centuries, The Cleveland Orchestra: A New Century, the first recording on the orchestra's own in-house label.[23]


  1. ^ Ivan Hewett (18 August 2005). "Why all those insults made me stronger". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  2. ^ ""Was glauben Sie?" – Der Dirigent Franz Welser-Möst" (in German). ORF Religion. 25 February 2006. Archived from the original on 8 February 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2007.
  3. ^ "Der Auslandsösterreicher des Jahres 2001–Franz Welser-Möst" (PDF). RotWeissRot (in German). Auslandsösterreicher-Weltbund. January 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 November 2005. Retrieved 4 September 2007.
  4. ^ a b Lebrecht, Norman (12 February 2004). "Franz Welser-Möst — The conductor they loved to hate". La Scena Musicale. Retrieved 4 September 2007.
  5. ^ Lebrecht, Norman (16 August 2000). "He might be smiling now... — Franz Welser-Möst Returns to Conduct the Proms". La Scena Musicale. Retrieved 4 September 2007.
  6. ^ Naredi-Rainer, Ernst (27 June 2006). "Schwierige Annäherung an Wien". Neue Vorarlberger Tageszeitung (in German). Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 4 September 2007.
  7. ^ Nicholas Kenyon (15 March 1992). "A Young Conductor Starts at the Top". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 November 2007.
  8. ^ Pelinka, Nikolaus (6 June 2007). "Kulturministerin Claudia Schmied: "Dominique Meyer wird 2010 Direktor der Wiener Staatsoper"" (in German). Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur. Retrieved 4 September 2007.
  9. ^ Westphal, Matthew (6 June 2007). "Vienna State Opera Appoints Dominique Meyer Its Next Director, with Franz Welser-Möst as Music Director". Playbill Arts. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 16 July 2007.
  10. ^ Zachary Lewis (5 September 2014). "Cleveland Orchestra music director Franz Welser-Most resigns from Vienna State Opera". The Plain Dealer. Cleveland, Ohio. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  11. ^ Dr. Reiber. "Wiener Singverein" (in German). Wiener Singverein. Archived from the original (Microsoft Word) on 28 July 2007. Retrieved 30 August 2008.
  12. ^ Ljubiša Tošić (1 January 2023). "Neujahrskonzert mit Franz Welser-Möst: Knapp am Klimaprotest vorbei!". Der Standard. Retrieved 2 January 2023.
  13. ^ "Cleveland Hails New Conductor". Sun-Sentinel. 16 September 2012. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  14. ^ "The Cleveland Orchestra and Music Director Franz Welser-Möst extend acclaimed partnership to 2027" (Press release). Cleveland Orchestra. 21 September 2019. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  15. ^ a b c "A Century of Excellence: An Extraordinary Future". Cleveland Orchestra.
  16. ^ Lawrence A. Johnson (24 March 2017). "Cleveland Orchestra slashes 2018 Arsht residency with no explanation to Miami". South Florida Classical Review. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  17. ^ "Franz Welser-Möst's new book, From Silence: Finding Calm in a Dissonant World, to be published in the U.S. in May" (Press release). Cleveland Orchestra. 2 April 2021. Retrieved 8 January 2023.
  18. ^ Welser-Moest, Franz (29 June 2021). From Silence. Clearview. ISBN 978-1-908337-60-3.
  19. ^ "Cleveland Orchestra conductor has cancerous tumor removed". AP News. 8 September 2023. Retrieved 24 December 2023.
  20. ^ "Franz Welser-Möst announces the conclusion of his tenure as Music Director of The Cleveland Orchestra in 2027 after 25 years of artistic innovation, deep-rooted community engagement, and international acclaim" (PDF) (Press release). The Cleveland Orchestra. 11 January 2024. Retrieved 13 January 2024.
  21. ^ Joshua Barone (11 January 2024). "'Everything Has a Time': Cleveland's Longest-Serving Conductor Plans His Departure". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  22. ^ Tsioulcas, Anastasia (6 March 2007). "Cleveland Orchestra partners with DG". Gramophone. Archived from the original on 25 March 2007. Retrieved 4 September 2007.
  23. ^ Zachary Lewis (13 March 2020). "Cleveland Orchestra launches in-house recording label with 'A New Century' album". The Plain Dealer. Cleveland. Retrieved 4 January 2021.

Further reading[edit]

  • Rosenberg, Donald (2000). The Cleveland Orchestra Story. Cleveland: Gray & Company. ISBN 1-886228-24-8.

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by Principal Conductor, Norrköping Symphony Orchestra
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Ralf Weikert (chief conductor)
Chief Conductor and Generalmusikdirektor, Zürich Opera
1995–2005 (chief conductor),
2005–2008 (Generalmusikdirektor)
Succeeded by
Daniele Gatti (chief conductor)
Preceded by Generalmusikdirektor, Vienna State Opera
Succeeded by