Eschenbach, Christoph

Eschenbach, Christoph,

1940–, German conductor and pianist, b. Breslau, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland), as Christoph Ringmann. Orphaned during World War II, he was adopted by Wallydore Eschenbach, his mother's cousin, who taught him piano. He studied piano with Hans-Otto Schmidt-Neuhaus and conducting with Wilhelm Brückner-Rüggeberg at the Musikhochschule, Cologne, and continued his studies with the latter at the Hochschule fur Musik und Theater, Hamburg, where he also studied piano with Eliza Hansen. He had his London concert debut in 1966 and appeared (1969) with the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell, who—along with Herbert von Karajan—became a mentor. Eschenbach was chief conductor and artistic director of the Tonhalle Orchestra, Zurich (1982–86), music director of the Houston Symphony Orhcestra (1988–99), the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra, Hamburg (1998–2004), the Orchestre de Paris (2000–2010), and the Philadelphia Orhcestra (2003–8). He also was artistic director of the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival (1999–2002) and director of the Ravinia Festival, summer home of the Chicago Symphony (1994–2003). Since 2010 he has been music director of the National Symphony Orchestra and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. His repertory ranges from Bach and Mozart to Kurt Weill and Philip Glass, and his discography includes recordings both as conductor and as pianist.