The German conductor, Andreas Delfs, began the study of piano and music theory at age 5 and joined the roster of the Flensburg Stadttheater as conductor and composer at 17. He studied with Christoph von Dohnányi and Aldo Ceccato at the Hamburg Conservatory and served as a staff conductor at the Lüneburg Stadttheater. At 20 he became the Music Director of the Hamburg University Orchestra, the youngest person ever to hold this post, and Musical Assistant at the Hamburg State Opera. Guest conductor at the Bremen State Theatre in 1981, he graduated from Hamburg Conservatory that same year. Enrolling at The Juilliard School upon the recommendation of Christoph von Dohnányi, he studied with Jorge Mester and Sixten Ehrling, and won the Bruno Walter Memorial Scholarship on the way to receiving his master's degree in 1984.
Andreas Delfs has held chief artistic posts with several distinguished institutions both in North America and Europe. At an early age he was Music Director of the celebrated Orchestre Suisse des Jeunes, from 1986 to 1995. He was also Music Director of the Bern (Switzerland) Opera, resident conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (during the tenure of Lorin Maazel as music director). In Europe, he served as General Music Director of Hannover, Germany from 1995 to 2000), conducting that city's symphony orchestra and opera company, where he led the European premiere of American composer John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles (commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera), in addition to premiering many works by Europe's most distinguished composers such as Hans Werner Henze and György Ligeti. Most recently, he was music director of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra from 2001 to 2004, and remains its artistic consultant through the end of the current season.
Now in his ninth season as Music Director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO), Andreas Delfs continues to garner national and international accolades through the MSO national radio series and guest conducting appearances in the USA and abroad. Through innovative and progressive programming each season with the MSO, a well-established rapport with the audience, and an electric podium presence, he has fashioned a model for the next-generation music director in America.
Andreas Delfs' continuing commitment to contemporary music is a distinguishing point in his career. Since his student days at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City, he has established a deep connection with living composers, and counts among his profound musical inspirations musicians such as John Corigliano, Philip Glass, Roberto Sierra, György Ligeti, Luciano Berio, Hans Werner Henze and Aribert Reimann. Similarly, Andreas Delfs is in high demand as an esteemed collaborative conductor, and is the frequent partner to many of the world's most renowned solo artists, in both vocal and instrumental fields. Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Yo-Yo Ma, Midori Gotō, Itzhak Perlman, Maurizio Pollini, Mstislav Rostropovich, Andre Watts, Renée Fleming and Frederica von Stade all make music with Andreas Delfs, either at his Milwaukee Symphony home or elsewhere around the globe.
The Chicago Tribune noted, "the Milwaukee Symphony made a shrewd choice in tapping Andreas Delfs to guide its artistic fortunes." With the MSO Andreas Delfs has been a leader in visionary performances and groundbreaking leadership. In 1999 Andreas Delfs took the MSO to Cuba, the first major American orchestra to perform there in 37 years. This historic tour was profiled in The New York Times, Associated Press, CNN, NPR and the major USA television networks. In recognition of this unique achievement, the Milwaukee Press Club presented Andreas Delfs with the 1999 "Headliner of the Year" award, stating "Andreas Delfs and the MSO were the most important news in Wisconsin in 1999."
In addition, Andreas Delfs maintains both an active guest conducting schedule as well as maintaining and enlarging continuing relationships with distinguished institutions both in North America and abroad. He has appeared with many of North America's major orchestra's including the Philadelphia Orchestra (both in Philadelphia and at Carnegie Hall), San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra (both in subscription and at the Hollywood Bowl), Houston Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra (Washington) and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, to name a few. He has also been a regular guest conductor at the Aspen Music Festival since 1985. In Europe, he has led such distinguished ensembles as the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Dresdner Philharmonie, Tonhalle Orchestra of Zürich, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic, MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, with whom he has recorded an album for London's Decca label. Additionally, he led a tour of Spain and France with the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra and soloist Mstislav Rostropovich, who immediately invited Andreas Delfs to conduct the Moscow Conservatory Orchestra at the inauguration of the new concert hall at the Evian Festival in France. In April 1997 Delfs made his debut with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in Australia and in November 2000 he debuted with the NHK Symphony in Japan. In May of 2005, he led the Taipei Symphony Orchestra in a concert that included new pieces by composers Fu Yuan Soong and Ma Shui Long.
Among Andreas Delfs' most notable operatic achievements have been a highly praised debut with the New York City Opera conducting performances of Carmen during the 1995-1996 season and a production of the uncut version of Hans Werner Henze's monumental Koenig Hirsch for the Württemberg State Theatre in Stuttgart. He led four productions at the Aspen Music Festival and gave the Swiss premiere of György Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre, which received special praise from the composer.
Andreas Delfs continues to make recordings, most recently a collection of sacred songs with Renée Fleming and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, for the Decca label, which was released in Fall 2005. Past recording projects include a production of Engelbert Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, released on the Avie label and the first ever digital recording of Hansel and Gretel in Engli, as well as a recent recording of W.A. Mozart's Requiem, with the St. Olaf Choir and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra on the Avie label.
Highlights from the 2005-2006 season include, in addition to the MSO and Saint Paul concerts, the world premiere of Lowell Liebermann's Miss Lonely Hearts, based on the novella by Nathaniel West, and produced by the Juilliard Opera Center. In Europe, he makes guest appearances with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln and Orquesta Sinfonica de Euskadi. His North American guest engagements will include concerts with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Nashville Symphony and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, as well as a production of Beethoven's Fidelio, with the Milwaukee's Florentine Opera.