The English conductor, Daniel Harding, studied trumpet at Chetham's School of Music and was a member of the National Youth Orchestra at age 13. At age 17, Harding assembled a group of musicians to perform Pierrot Lunaire of Arnold Schoenberg, and sent a tape of the performance to Simon Rattle in Birmingham. After listening to this tape, Simon Rattle hired Harding as an assistant to him at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra for a year, from 1993-1994. With this orchestra he made his professional debut in 1994. Harding then attended the University of Cambridge, but after his first year at university, Claudio Abbado named him his assistant with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Harding first conducted the Berliner Philharmoniker at the 1996 Berlin Festival at age 21. At the time of his first conducting appearance at The Proms in 1996, he was then the youngest-ever conductor to appear there. Harding has stated that he has never had formal conducting lessons.
Daniel Harding has been Principal Conductor of the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra in Norway (1997-2000), Principal Guest Conductor of Sweden's Norrkoping Symphony Orchestra (1997-2003), Music Director of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen (1999-2003), and Principal Conductor the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (since 2003). In 2004, he was appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, as of 2006. One of his new projects with the London Symphony Orchestra involves the 'Sound Adventures' program for new compositions. With the London Symphony Orchestra, he has conducted a commercial recording of the opera Billy Budd for EMI Classics. He became the Principal Conductor (Music Director) of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in 2007. In September 2009, he extended his contract as the orchestra's Principal Conductor through 2012. With the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, he has recorded commercially for the Sony Classical label. He is also Music Partner of the New Japan Philharmonic.
Daniel Harding is a regular visitor to the Dresden Staatskapelle, Wiener Philharmoniker (both of which he has conducted at the Salzburg Festival), Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bayerischer Rundfunk Symphonieorchester, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala. Other guest conducting engagements have included the Berliner Philharmoniker, Münchner Philharmoniker, Orchestre National de Lyon, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (of Rome), Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre des Champs-Elysées. Among the American orchestras with whom he has performed are the Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
In 2005, Daniel Harding opened the season at La Scala, Milan, conducting a new production of Idomeneo, as a substitute after the resignation of Riccardo Muti earlier in 2005. He returned in 2007 for Salome and in 2008 for a double bill of Bluebeard’s Castle and Il Prigioniero. His operatic experience also includes The Turn of the Screw and Wozzeck at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Wozzeck at the Theater an der Wien, and Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro at the Salzburg Festival with the Wiener Philharmoniker. Closely associated with the Aix-en-Provence Festival, he has conducted new productions there of Così fan tutte directed by Patrice Chereau (2005), Don Giovanni directed by Peter Brook, The Turn of the Screw directed by Luc Bondy, La Traviata directed by Peter Mussbach, Eugene Onegin directed by Irina Brook and, most recently, Le nozze di Figaro directed by Vincent Boussard. Other engagements have included Die Zauberflöte in Vienna and Die Entführung aus dem Serail at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich. He returns to La Scala, Milan, this season to conduct Cavalleria Rusticana & I Pagliacci.
Daniel Harding records exclusively for Deutsche Grammophon and his first two discs for the yellow label, a recording of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 10 with the Wiener Philharmoniker, and Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Bayerischer Rundfunk Symphonieorchester, have won widespread critical acclaim. Previously a Virgin/EMI artist, his recordings for that label include G. Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra; Johannes Brahms’ Symphonies Nos. 3 and 4 with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen; Billy Budd with the London Symphony Orchestra (winner of a Grammy Award for best opera recording); Don Giovanni and The Turn of the Screw (awarded the “Choc de l'Année 2002”, the “Grand Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros” and a Gramophone award) both with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra; works by Lutosławski with Solveig Kringelborn and the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and works by Benjamin Britten with Ian Bostridge and the Britten Sinfonia (awarded the "Choc de L'Annee 1998”).
In 2002, Daniel Harding was awarded the title Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government. He has two children, Adele and George, from his marriage to Béatrice Muthelet, a violist. As of February 2011, the couple have separated and are in the process of divorce. Harding is a particular fan of the football club Manchester United.