Manfred Honeck has served as Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since the 2008-2009 season. Together with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Honeck’s widely celebrated performances and distinctive interpretations continue to receive international recognition. To great acclaim, Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra regularly perform in major music capitals and festivals, among them the BBC Proms, Musikfest Berlin, Lucerne Festival, Rheingau Musik Festival, Beethovenfest Bonn, Grafenegg Festival, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra have also built a close relationship with the Musikverein in Vienna. Following a week-long residency in 2012, they will return once again for three performances in the course of an extensive tour of Europe in spring 2016.
Manfred Honeck’s successful work with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has been extensively documented on recordings with the Reference and Exton labels. The first SACD released by Reference Records of Strauss tone poems, drew rave reviews. The second recording, of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 and the Symphonic Suite from Janacek’s opera Jenufa, conceptualized by Honeck himself, was nominated for a Grammy Award. Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 was released in early 2015 to critical acclaim followed by Beethoven 5 and 7 in autumn of this year. Several recordings, among them Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, which won a 2012 International Classical Music Award, are also available on the Japanese label Exton.
As a guest conductor Manfred Honeck has worked with the world’s leading orchestras such as the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Staatskapelle Dresden, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Accademia di Santa Cecilia Rome and the Vienna Philharmonic. Orchestras he conducted in the United States include New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra. He is also a regular guest at the Verbier Festival. In 2013 he gave his successful debut with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, resulting in a CD recording of Dvoraks works together with Anne-Sophie Mutter for DG which received an Echo Klassik award in 2014. The 2015/2016 season sees him return to Bamberg, Stuttgart, Rome, Stockholm and New York, other re-invitations include the Munich Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, amongst others.
Born in Austria, Manfred Honeck received his musical training at the Academy of Music in Vienna. Many years of experience as a member of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra and at the helm of the Vienna Jeunesse Orchestra have given his conducting a distinctive stamp. He began his career as assistant to Claudio Abbado in Vienna. Subsequently, he was engaged by the Zurich Opera House, where he was bestowed the prestigious European Conductor’s Award in 1993. Other early stations of his career include Leipzig, where he was one of three main conductors of the MDR Symphony Orchestra and Oslo, where he assumed the post of Music Director at the Norwegian National Opera on short notice for a year and was engaged as Principal Guest Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra for several years. From 2000 to 2006 he was Music Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm and, from 2008 to 2011, Principal Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he has resumed for another three years at the beginning of the 2013/2014 season.
From 2007 to 2011, Manfred Honeck was Music Director of the Staatsoper Stuttgart where he conducted premieres including Berlioz’s Les Troyens, Mozart’s Idomeneo, Verdi’s Aida, Richard Strauss’s Rosenkavalier, Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites and Wagner’s Lohengrin and Parsifal, as well as numerous symphonic concerts. His operatic guest appearances include Semperoper Dresden, Komische Oper Berlin, Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Royal Opera of Copenhagen, the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg and the Salzburg Festival.
Manfred Honeck has received honorary doctorates from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania and, most recently, from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Moreover, he has been Artistic Director of the “International Concerts Wolfegg” in Germany for more than twenty years.
Manfred Honeck Reviews:
“It’s not easy to offer interpretations of this music that sound new without turning capricious–that both respect the music and personalize it. Honeck and the orchestra manage to pull it off consistently, with bravura, finesse, and an intelligence that makes these versions a true celebration of Beethoven’s genius. The first element that lends this disc such distinction is the quality of the orchestra itself. Let’s be honest: there simply is no finer ensemble in the world today, even if it may sound controversial to say so. From top to bottom the Pittsburgh players reveal themselves as equal or superior to anyone out there; and when led by a charismatic conductor like Honeck, they have few if any peers.” —David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday
“All I can say is that Maestro Honeck’s temporal conception of this symphony, which is quite fast, is so spot on, it makes what remains of my hair stand on end. I was literally lost for words. Once I managed to speak at all, I could only say, This is the greatest Fifth I’ve ever heard.” —Russell Lichter, Stereo Times
“Beethoven liked large-scale performances and he’d presumably have approved of Manfred Honeck’s Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performances of Symphonies 5 and 7. This is sensational orchestral playing, beautifully recorded, and these readings have an irresistible sweep and grandeur. … It’s that good, and a reminder that classical music can still sound exciting and relevant.” —Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk
“Honeck has a wonderful ear for detail, be it quietly thematic or utterly bizarre, as in the piccolo’s crackerjack contributions to the finale of the Fifth, whose final chord nonetheless manages to offer an inch-perfect balance between piccolo and drum. … Honeck’s performances deserve to be heard.” —Richard OSborne, Gramophone
“Ninety seconds is all it takes to understand that Manfred Honeck’s is no sanitized Beethoven: the plethora of colorations, articulations and moods through which he forces the Fifth’s famous motto sees to that. Every phrase, every balance has been thought through in interventionist readings that are idiosyncratic but fully attuned to the spirit, if not the letter, of the scores. … this partnership seems incapable of laying down an ordinary recording.” —David Allen, The New York Times
“What Honeck does accomplish, perhaps better than any other conductor, is to move the music along and even lighten instrumental textures as in the relaxed and faster second subject of the first movement without detracting in any way from the solemnity of the opening horn call and the power of the massive brass climaxes. In other words, Honeck’s flexible tempos add to the power of the recurring horn call by increasing dynamic contrasts. … Honeck and his A-list Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra provide an excellent…choice and…interpretive approach.” —Arthur Lintgen, Fanfare
“In the cluttered mess that is the world of classical recordings today, Honeck and Pittsburgh stand virtually alone as a partnership truly worthy of your time and attention.” —David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday
“Honeck gives this live performance a rather expansive interpretation, emphasizing the long sweep of melody and using a fair amount of rubato in his tempos to add dramatic shading, particularly by drawing out cadences for their full emotional effect. The orchestra is prepared for all of Honeck’s gradations and nuances, and it is remarkably fluid in shifting from one mood to the next without seeming forced. Yet the most important aspect of this performance is the attention to tone colors, which Honeck clarifies and highlights with great delicacy, proving that in the right hands, Bruckner’s writing for orchestra is astonishing.” —Blair Sanderson, All Music
“The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and their Music Director Manfred Honeck have – in a very short space of time – become one of the most exciting teams in the modern classical world, with recordings that combine superlative musicianship with unparalleled recording quality.…” —Barry Forshaw, Classical CD Choice