Time to say goodbye: Top conductor retires

Time to say goodbye: Top conductor retires


norman lebrecht

October 30, 2014

The modernist conductor Michael Gielen has laid down his baton on health grounds at the age of 87.

Gielen was principal conductor of the Belgian National_Orchestra,  1969–73, the Cincinnati Symphony 1980–86 and Southwest German Radio SO, 1986–99, as well as Intendant and GMD of Frankfurt Opera, 1976-86. He has been active lately in trying to block a merger of SWR’s two orchestras.

A nephew of the Schoenberg pianist Eduard Steuermann, Gielen grew up in Bueons Aires exile and gave the South American premiere of many of Arnold Schoenberg piano works. Among the world premieres he conducted are  Ligeti‘s RequièmStockhausen‘s Carré and Bernd Alois Zimmermann‘s Die Soldaten. He was a prolific recording artist, notably in the Bruckner and Mahler symphonies.

gielen bruckner


  • Hilary says:

    And a composer of some distinction to say the least!

  • John says:

    Also Intendant and GMD of the Frankfurt Opera 1976-86, a period of great significance in the history of opera in the second half of the 20th Century.

  • Hilary says:

    It’s instructive to compare Gielen’s pioneering recording of the Ligeti Requiem with the rather tame rendition which appears as part of the Ligeti edition.

    • sdReader says:

      Salonen’s? I have always thought he has an especially good grasp of the Ligeti Requiem, and I am not a fan in general. Gielen is even better?

      • Paul Pellay says:

        Actually, it’s not Salonen who conducts the Requiem on the Ligeti Project, but Jonathan Nott. And I thought he did it very well.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    The Brahms 1st concerto posted here is sublime. Thank you very much.

  • Mathieu says:

    Well, I am not a big fan of hers, but I have to admit that she can play a mean Brahms 1st….

  • György Gonda says:

    Thank You maestro Gielen for the magnificient recordings of the Beethoven, Mahler and Brahms symphonic cycles.
    Thank You to give to my ears a clear version of Schonberg chamber symphonies and a wonderful version of Pelleas & Melisande.
    I would have appreciate getting more Ligeti , but I cherish the few I got .