Klaus Tennstedt (June 6,
1926 – January 11, 1998) was a German conductor from Merseburg.
He studied violin and piano at the Leipzig
Conservatory. He became concertmaster of the orchestra at the Halle
Municipal Theatre in 1948. However, a finger injury stopped his
career as a violinist, and afterwards he worked as a coach to
singers at the same theatre. Tennstedt then directed his talents
toward conducting. In 1958, he became music director of the Dresden
Opera, and in 1962, music director of the Schwerin State Orchestra
Tennstedt emigrated from East Germany in 1971 and obtained asylum
in Sweden. He conducted in Gothenburg with the Göteborg Theatre and
in Stockholm with the Swedish Radio Symphony
. In 1972, he became General Music Director of the
Kiel Opera in Northern Germany. From 1979 to 1982, he served as
Chief Conductor of the North German Radio Orchestra in
In 1974, Tennstedt made his North American debut with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra
first US appearance was shortly after that, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra
December 1974, conducting Bruckner's Symphony No.
. In Norman Lebrecht's The Maestro Myth
story was told that when the Boston management asked Tennstedt what
he wanted to conduct, he replied: "You mean I get to choose?" His
appearances were highly acclaimed, and as a result, Tennstedt
guest-conducted at the Tanglewood Music Festival
His USA opera debut was at the Metropolitan Opera
, New York, in 1983,
conducting a production of Beethoven's Fidelio
. He also
guest-conducted with the Philadelphia Orchestra
, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
the New York
His London debut was with the London Symphony Orchestra
In 1977 came his first engagement with the London Philharmonic Orchestra
(LPO), which led to his appointment as the LPO's Principal Guest
Conductor in 1980, and eventually as Principal Conductor in 1983.
Due to ill-health, however, he stepped down in 1987, and he was
later named the LPO's Conductor Laureate. He did return to the LPO
for concerts of Mahler in November 1991 (Symphony No. 6) and May
1993 (Symphony No.7). However, on the advice of his physicians,
Tennstedt retired from conducting altogether in October 1994.
His recordings include a complete cycle of the symphonies of
. Several of Tennstedt's
concert performances have been reissued on CD.
- Andrew Clements, "Beethoven Symphony No 9:
Haggänder/Hodgson/Tear/ Howell/London Philharmonic/Tennstedt".
The Guardian, 7 November 2003.
- Tim Ashley, "Haydn: The Creation, Popp/Rolfe
Johnson/LPO and Choir". The Guardian, 10 February