Christoph Eschenbach appointed Music Director of the Kennedy Center and Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra

Christoph Eschenbach
Associated Press


The National Symphony Orchestra has chosen Christoph Eschenbach as its next music director after years of searching.

The 68-year-old German conductor will start in the 2010-2011 season after Hungarian conductor Ivan Fischer completes his two-year stint as principal conductor. Eschenbach's initial agreement covers four years.

He will be the orchestra's sixth music director.

Eschenbach will also hold the newly created position of music director of the Kennedy Center. In that role, he will work with the president of the Kennedy Center and programmers to launch various interdisciplinary, themed festivals and other projects in which classical music is a core component.

"Both elements of this new position are simply irresistible," Eschenbach said in a statement Friday. "No other organization in the world is mounting festivals of the scope and the variety of the Kennedy Center. ... I am particularly pleased at the prospect of working closely with the National Symphony Orchestra. It will be my mission to bring this great orchestra, in a great city, in a great country, to greater prominence around the world."

Eschenbach was the unanimous choice of the orchestra's search committee.

He most recently headed the Philadelphia Orchestra, has connections with artists such as soprano Renee Fleming and has a relationship with Ondine Records, a Finnish recording company. NSO officials said they were in talks with Ondine about recording projects, something the orchestra has not done for some time.

"Maestro Eschenbach is eagerly anticipating developing a rich and dynamic partnership with the orchestra, and it will be extremely exciting to watch that evolve throughout his years with us," Ann Jordan, board chair of the National Symphony Orchestra Association, said in a statement.

Eschenbach will come to Washington in November to begin auditions for eight vacancies in the orchestra.