Thomas Quasthoff: I never wanted to conduct

Thomas Quasthoff: I never wanted to conduct


norman lebrecht

July 24, 2015

The retired bass-baritone explains in a radio interview how he came to be conducting Bach’s St Matthew Passion at the Verbier Festival tonight – his maestro debut.

Tommy, 55, says the idea came from Verbier chief Martin Engstroem not long after he gave up singing for health reasons. He thought about it long and hard, discussed it with his wife and friends, listened to dozens of recordings and finally took up the challenge.

‘We’re going to have a lot of pleasure together,’ he says, ‘but don’t start thinking I’m the next Karajan.’

Listen to his interview in German, here.

In another interview he says, ‘what do you call it when you conduct without arms?’ referring to his physical disability.

Go for it, Tommy.

Thomas Quasthoff

You can hear the concert on

quasthoff conducts


  • MacroV says:

    He’s such a great musician that it should be good. And who can forget Mr. Quasthoff in the Rattle/Sellars St. Matthew Passion, singing (don’t know the aria name) with Daishin Kashimoto sawing away over him.

  • Neven P. says:

    Admirable! A great musician!

  • David Topliffe says:

    A scary moment in the final applause where TQ almost falls backwards when going to hug Mark Padmore.

    The whole film was deeply moving. Thanks for telling us about the event, Norman

  • Jonathan M. Dunsby says:

    For me one of the highlights was Erbarme Dich (approx. 1 hour, 25 mins in).
    Many of the orchestra and choir were visibly moved by this.