The Austrian conductor with Italian roots, Friedrich Haider, ranks as one of the few who have truly transcended the shopworn cliché that pits conductor against orchestra. Lively rehearsals and bursting motivation during performances are just a small indication of the way Haider works. His ongoing technical development also marks him as an exception in the music industry.
Friedrich Haider graduated from his conducting studies at the Wiener Musikhochschule and at the Salzburg Mozarteum. He was a student of Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
Friedrich Haider made his operatic debut on July 26, 1984 in Klagenfurt with Johann Strauss' Wiener Blut. He appeared for the first time in the concert hall in the same year conducting the Wiener Kammerorchester. Conducting engagements followed in Barcelona, Stockholm, Aix-en-Provence, Lisbon and Bonn. He has gradually developed a repertoire that encompasses a wide variety of symphonic works and over 80 operas. In 1991, at the age of just 30, Haider became the youngest general music director in the history of the Opéra national du Rhin in Strasbourg. He served in this post until 1994, and conducted there productions of La Traviata, Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, The Merry Widow, Madama Butterfly and Salome as well as the first performance cycle of all orchestra Lieder by Richard Strauss.
Guest engagements followed in Nice (Faust and Tristan and Isolde), Hamburg (Don Giovanni, Die Fledermaus, Roberto Devereux), Munich, Bologna (I Puritani), Cologne (I Capuleti e i Montecchi and Die Fledermaus) and at the Wels Wagner Festival (Die Walküre). After Opéra national du Rhin he moved on to some of the world’s prominent opera houses: Vienna, Munich, Dresden, and New York. He made his successful debut at the Wiener Staatsoper in 2002 with Lucia di Lammermoor, and since then he conducted regularly in this opera house. In the 2004-2005 season he again conducted Die Fledermaus. In the fall of 2006, he celebrated his debut at New York's Metropolitan Opera with Verdi's Rigoletto. Upon this auspicious debut, James Levine congratulated Friedrich Haider with the words: "The orchestra likes you because you are inspiring!" James Levine's compliment exemplifies what today’s leading orchestras around the world all admire about Friedrich Haider. A number of tours have taken him to Japan where he has conducted operas and symphony concerts.
Friedrich Haider's great stylistic range is evident by looking at just a few of his achievements: Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Charles Gounod's Faust, and Donizetti's Roberto Devereux at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich; The Bat, La Traviata, and Norma in Vienna; Weber's Der Freischütz at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice; Macbeth in Verona; Verdi's Otello the at the Tivoli Festival Copenhagen; Mozart's Entführung aus dem Serail at the Semper Opera Dresden; Tristan and Isolde in Nice; Wagner's Lohengrin and R. Strauss' Ariadne on Naxos in Barcelona; and R. Strauss' Salome at the National Opera of Tokyo. Haider’s seminal interpretation of Johann Strauss' The Bat, which he has gone on to arrange more than 70 times, deserves special mention. Haider has recently devoted a great deal of attention to the operas of Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, the Italian-German composer whom the music world had nearly forgotten. Haider repeatedly devoted himself to the Italian bel canto, where he could win success, especially with his personal discovery of Roberto Devereux by Donizetti's - recently in 2004 at the Bayerischen Staatsoper.
In 2004 Friedrich Haider was appointed as the music director of northern Spain’s Oviedo Filarmonía. With this orchestra he celebrated great success and toured in 2007 include the first time in Japan. In the concert hall he specifically dedicated to the works of Richard Strauss (whose whole tone poems and ballets, he has repeatedly performed), the symphonies of Johannes Brahms and Dmitri Shostakovich. He guest appearances on the podium of world-class orchestras such including the London Symphony Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle, Brucknerorchester Linz, Göteburger Symphoniker, Milan Chamber Orchestra, Mantua Chamber Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra and since his debut with Verdi's Messa da Requiem also a regular guest with the choir and orchestra of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra of Bratislava.
Numerous CD and DVD recordings with Deutsche Grammophon and Universal, as well as with Philartis Vienna, Teldec, BMG Classics, and Orfeo, in addition to his collaboration with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich, attest to Haider’s versatility as conductor and pianist for chamber music. The world-premier recording of the complete orchestral Lieder of Richard Strauss, conducted by Friedrich Haider received the coveted “German Music Critics Prize” in 1998.
Since 1971, Friedrich Haider maintains close and friendly contact with the Austrian painter, sculptor and founder of the Viennese Fantastic Realism, Professor Ernst Fuchs. Haider received important artistic and ideological impulses from him. Haider collects the early work of Fuchs (1945 to 1960's) and in 2003 published a remarkable book about his early works. He is married with a violinist and lives next to Basel.