Over the last quarter century, Manfred Honeck has firmly established himself as one of the world’s leading conductors, renowned for his distinctive interpretations. For more than a decade, he has served as Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, celebrated for their performances in Pittsburgh and abroad, performing regularly in major music capitals. Together they have continued a legacy of music- making that includes many GRAMMY® nominations and a 2018 GRAMMY® Award for Best Orchestral Performance. Honeck and the orchestra serve as cultural ambassadors for the city as one of the most frequently toured American orchestras.
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 have given his conducting a distinctive stamp. He began his career as assistant to Claudio Abbado and was subsequently engaged by the Zurich Opera House, where he was bestowed the prestigious European Conductor’s award. Following early posts at MDR Symphony Orchestra and at the Oslo Philharmonic, he was appointed music director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He also served as principal guest conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, and was music director of the Staatsoper Stuttgart.
As a guest conductor, Manfred Honeck has worked with such leading orchestras as the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and the Vienna Philharmonic, among others, and is a regular guest with all of the major American orchestras.
Manfred Honeck was awarded the honorary title of Professor by the Austrian Federal President. An international jury of critics selected Honeck as the International Classical Music Awards “Artist of the Year” in 2018.
Manfred Honeck Reviews:
“Manfred Honeck’s one of the finest and most exciting Beethoven conductors around, as his ongoing survey of the composer’s symphonies with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) attests” —Jonathan Blumhofer, ArtsFuse
“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