Daniel Harding

Introduction

Born in Oxford, Daniel Harding began his career assisting Sir Simon Rattle at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, with which he made his professional debut in 1994.  He went on to assist Claudio Abbado at the Berlin Philharmonic and made his debut with the orchestra at the 1996 Berlin Festival.  

He is Music Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and Music Partner of the New Japan Philharmonic. He is Artistic Director of the Ohga Hall in Karuizawa, Japan and was recently honoured with the lifetime title of Conductor Laureate of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.  His previous positions include Principal Conductor and Music Director of the MCO (2003-2011), Principal Conductor of the Trondheim Symphony  (1997-2000), Principal Guest Conductor of Sweden's Norrköping Symphony (1997-2003) and Music Director of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen (1997-2003). 

He is a regular visitor to the Vienna Philharmonic, Dresden Staatskapelle (orchestras of which he has conducted at the Salzburg Festival), Royal Concertgebouw, the Bavarian Radio, Leipzig Gewandhaus and the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala. Other guest conducting engagements have included the Berlin Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Lyon, Oslo Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Santa Cecilia Orchestra of Rome, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Frankfurt Radio Orchestras and the Orchestre des Champs-Elysées.  Among the American orchestras with whom he has performed are the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. 

In 2005 he opened the season at La Scala, Milan, conducting a new production of Idomeneo. He returned in 2007 for Salome, in 2008 for a double bill of Bluebeard’s Castle and Il Prigioniero, and most recently in 2011 for Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci, for which he was awarded the prestigious Premio della Critica Musicale “Franco Abbiati”. His operatic experience also includes Ariadne auf Naxos, Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro at the Salzburg Festival with the Vienna Philharmonic, The Turn of the Screw and Wozzeck at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Die Entführung aus dem Serail at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich, Die Zauberflöte at the Wiener Festwochen and Wozzeck at the Theater an der Wien. Closely associated with the Aix-en-Provence Festival, he has conducted new productions there of Così fan tutte, Don Giovanni, The Turn of the Screw, La Traviata, Eugene Onegin and Le nozze di Figaro.  In the 2012/13 season he returned to la Scala for Falstaff and made his debuts at both the Deutsche Staatsoper, Berlin and at the Wiener Staatsoper with Der Fliegende Holländer. 

His recent recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, Mahler Symphony No. 10 with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra have both won widespread critical acclaim. For Virgin/EMI he has recorded Mahler Symphony No. 4 with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Brahms’ Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen; Billy Budd with the London Symphony Orchestra (winner of a Grammy Award for best opera recording), Don Giovanni and The Turn of the Screw (awarded the “Choc de l'Année 2002”, the “Grand Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros” and a Gramophone award) both with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra; works by Lutosławski with Solveig Kringelborn and the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and works by Britten with Ian Bostridge and the Britten Sinfonia (awarded the "Choc de L'Annee 1998”). 

In 2002 he was awarded the title Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government and in 2012 he was elected a member of The Royal Swedish Academy of Music.

For an up-to-date biography, please contact Henry Lindsay

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Suntory Hall, Tokyo

MAHLER from “Des Knaben Wunderhorn”
MAHLER Symphony No. 4 in G major

Lisa Milne, soprano
Daniel Harding, conductor
New Japan Philharmonic

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Press

Beethoven

Piano Concertos 3 & 4

Maria-João Pires & Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra

The cleanliness of these interpretations is reinforced by the sounds of Daniel Harding conducting his Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra - smooth, suave, lightly sprinkled with aftershave.  Geoff Brown, The Times, 18th July 2014

Watkins & Mahler

London Symphony Orchestra

Barbican

'a spectacular concert, superbly directed by Daniel Harding.' ... 'Vividness and freshness are just two qualities the orchestra, under Harding, brought out in Mahler’s score too. The whole orchestra combined to produce an astonishingly colourful sound, positively teeming with life in the dew-filled morning mist and cuckoo calls of the first movement, brimming over with excitement.' David Fay, Bach Track, 25th February 2014
'Mahler's First Symphony, coolly appraised by Harding until he reached the finale, which he launched with such violence that we were completely knocked off balance. Up to that point everything had been super-subtle, from the gradual erosion of the pastoral calm of the opening, to the elegiac mockery of the funeral march. Thereafter, visceral emotion predominated until we reached the exhilarating conclusion.' Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 25th February 2014
'Under Daniel Harding’s direction the London Symphony Orchestra cast a matching spell, at one point answering the flute’s busy monologue with a ravishing blend of high strings, woodwind, and harp.' ... 'Mahler’s First Symphony was a perfect sequel, and, in their precision of detail and command of big forms, Harding and the LSO made this a worthy tribute to their concert’s dedicatee, Claudio Abbado.' Michael Church, The Independent, 26th February 2014
'Harding’s Mahler was more virile than neurotic in its oxygenated panorama of sky and forest, village and city, funeral procession and lovers’ clinch. His tempi were brisk, lightly dressed with portamenti from the strings, the colours bright and alive.' Anna Picard, The Times, February 25th, 2014

Schubert & Mahler

London Symphony Orchestra

Barbican

'Harding’s aristocratic phrasing felt more as though a maid was gently drawing aside satin curtains on a sunny morning. The unanimity of the LSO strings (violins divided antiphonally) was exquisite.'...'Harding teased and cajoled the feather-light orchestration with gestures as graceful as the music itself. In the second movement’s opening figure he wrought a delicious tenuto just before the descending phrase, and the subtly ornamented repeat had a special charm.' Mark Valencia, The Arts Desk, November 21st 2013
'The performance was sheer delight. If the first movement was taken a little faster than traditionalists might expect, it was light and airy, beautifully poised, and gently phrased with the utmost affection. In less skilled hands the longish slow movement can sometimes outstay its welcome, but not here, since under Harding’s eloquent direction it floated elegantly and charmingly by. A rhythmically buoyant Minuet, with the Trio section convincingly taken at the same tempo, was succeeded by a deliciously pointed finale. There was no self-conscious ‘interpretation’ in Harding’s performance: warmth and direct expression were at its core.'...'He [Harding] had been the guiding light and the hero of the evening.' Alan sanders, Classical Source, November 22nd 2013

Stravinksy

London Symphony Orchestra

Barbican

Piloted this time by Daniel Harding, Stravinsky’s extravagantly orchestrated complete score (which would later be filleted to become three suites) was airborne again, scene-setting and vivid narrative at the forefront of Harding’s conception, subtle enough to be a fairy-tale, sufficiently edgy and dramatic to be a Russian Grand Opera in the Rimsky-Korsakov mould. Harding exploited a wide dynamic and expressive range and there were many ear-grabbing textures (antiphonal violins an aural plus-point, and Edward Vanderspar’s viola was miraculously clear in ‘Round Dance of the Princesses’), all worked through as Fine Art, and with much sensuality. Colin Anderson, Classical Source, October 2013,

Bruckner

Symphony No.6

London Symphony Orchestra, Barbican Hall, London

A remarkable performance.... one of the most dramatic and unexpected readings of a Bruckner opening movement most of us are likely to hear. But Harding was not impulsive for the sake of it. The long paragraphs of the adagio, some of the most expressively lonely pages that even Bruckner ever penned, with the plangent oboe solo beautifully played by Juan Pechuan Ramirez, were given plenty of room to breathe. The symphony's underlying insecurity can never be fully quieted, however, and Harding racked up the tension once more in the nightmarish contrasts and fragmentary writing of the short (by Brucknerian standards) scherzo and finale Martin Kettle, The Guardian, 13 April 2012
Harding laid the whole thing out before us, plain and unexaggerated. If that makes it sound dull, it wasn’t. There were moments that came at us with the power and menace of a galloping horse; elsewhere, notably at the beginning of the second movement, the sound seemed to well up from somewhere deep and dark. Hard against long interludes of rapt contemplation came passages in which the tension seemed about to burst. Without interfering with the forward momentum or the solidity of Bruckner’s structure, Harding and his players made the contrasts count. Nick Kimberley, The Evening Standard, 13 April 2012

Richard Strauss

Don Juan

London Symphony Orchestra, Barbican Hall London

...a performance that was often magnificent. The piece itself admirably suits Harding's slightly detached way with Strauss, which allows him to be sensuous yet never cloying. The mix of bitonal harmonies and exquisite textures was superbly negotiated and displayed. And the playing was glorious. Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 13 February 2011

Berio: Sinfonia; Liszt: Piano Concerto no. 1; Berlioz: Harold in Italy

London Symphony Orchestra, Barbican Hall London

Daniel Harding has, I suspect, done little finer than this extraordinary LSO concert about iconoclasm. His programme on this occasion (Berio's Sinfonia, Liszt's First Piano Concerto and Berlioz's Harold in Italy) consisted of works that rewrite rules, and you couldn't help but feel that their rebellion provoked him to give of his best.
Harding's conducting was all monumentality and fire – it felt a bit superhuman, as Liszt always should… The LSO is rarely bettered in Berlioz, and Harding, whether summoning up the sound of distant bells or presiding over the frenzy of the brigands' orgy, was electrifying. Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 10 November 2010

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