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Born in 1929 in Berlin, Nikolaus Harnoncourt was raised in Graz, Austria, and studied cello with Paul Grümmer and Emanuel Brabec in Vienna. Between 1952 and 1969 he was a member of the Vienna Symphony; in 1953 he meanwhile founded the Concentus Musicus Wien, which helped set the standard for the reappraisal of performance traditions of music from the Renaissance, baroque, and classical eras. At first Harnoncourt conducted his ensemble while playing cello, but starting in 1970 he began to shift his focus to classical conducting style and took on engagements with other orchestras. His first operatic project, Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, was produced in 1971 at the Theater an der Wien, while his connection with Zurich Opera began in the 1970s with cycles of operas by Monteverdi and Mozart. Harnoncourt is also an active opera conductor at the Vienna Staatsoper, de Nederlandse Opera, and the Salzburg Festival, where he will produce a new Magic Flute in the summer of 2012. He regularly appears as a conductor with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, and the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics. He enjoys a close partnership with the Styriarte Festival in Graz, which was founded for him in 1985. He is also an author and educator, sharing his insights with a wide public and with the emerging generation. Harnoncourt’s vast discography comprises close to 500 recordings and has garnered many prizes. His contributions to musical life have been recognized by the Siemens Music Prize (2002) and the Kyoto Prize (2005), among others. He is an Honorary Member of the Society of Friends of Music, the Vienna Concert Hall Society, and the Music Faculties of the Universities of Graz and Vienna, and he has been granted honorary doctorates by the University of Edinburgh and the Salzburg Mozarteum.
LUCERNE FESTIVAL (IMF) debut on 27 March 1996 with the Concentus Musicus Wien in works by Haydn.