Hugh Wolff

The energetic and fiery Hugh Wolff started his career in his home country with positions in New Jersey and Saint Paul.  Most recently he was Principal Conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra where he established his name as serious and dynamic music maker.  Now based in the US, Wolff remains a regular guest conductor with orchestras in Europe, the USA, the Far East and Australia. Wolff’s repertoire interests span baroque performance practice to the championing of new works.

Hugh Wolff conducts Oregon Symphony

13 Nov 2012

Hugh Wolff will make his first appearance with the Oregon Symphony on 18 and 19 November. He will conduct a programme...

Hugh Wolff returns to Sydney Symphony

24 Aug 2012

A regular in at the Opera House, Hugh Wolff returns to the Sydney Symphony this week to conduct works by Debussy, Brahms and a new Piano Concerto by Carl Vine written for pianist, Piers Lane.

Hugh Wolff returns to Frankfurt

19 Apr 2012

Hugh Wolff makes a welcome return to the Frankfurt Radio...

Juho Pohjonen and Hugh Wolff join forces in Finland

02 Mar 2011

Hot on the heals of his highly acclaimed recital at the Lincoln Centre New York, pianist Juho Pohjonen joins fellow ICA artist Hugh Wolff who will conduct the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra at...

Hugh Wolff triumphs in Cincinnati!

12 Jan 2011

"...Conducting without a score (as he did the Haydn), Wolff found all the complexity in Shostakovich’s score, from the fife-and-drum-like Allegro – a caricature of the victorious Stalin (kudos to...

Hugh Wolff returns to Yomiuri

03 Dec 2010

Hugh Wolff returns to the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra to conduct the orchestra’s annual series of Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 performances between 19-26 December, including a performance on...

Hugh Wolff at the Aspen Festival

02 Jul 2010

Across the pond at the Aspen Festival, Hugh Wolff spends three weeks teaching master classes culminating in a concert with the Aspen Chamber Orchestra conducting Marc-André Hamelin in Beethoven’s...

Hugh Wolff returns to the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg and the Dresden Philharmonic

01 Mar 2010

Hugh Wolff returns for concerts with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg and the Dresden Philharmonic. In Luxembourg he conducts works by Brahms and is joined by Viviane Hagner for Bruch’s...

Hugh Wolff is in Australia

22 Jun 2009

Hugh Wolff is in Australia for a mini-residency with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. During the 7-concert run at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, Hugh is first joined by Isabelle Faust to...

Hugh Wolff returns to the UK

20 Apr 2009

Hugh Wolff returns to the UK to conduct the Philharmonia Orchestra and Nicola Benedetti in Leicester, Cheltenham and London on 28, 29 and 30 April. Repertoire for the concerts includes Sibelius’...

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“From the first performance of the complete work in 1935… [Walton Symphony No.1] gained a reputation for being devilishly difficult due to its complex rhythms, intricate textures and taut, constantly evolving themes. Hugh Wolff and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra triumphantly surmounted its challenges with a gripping and inspirational interpretation…. Wolff’s textural clarity unravelled the densely interwoven lines to reveal a wealth of detail… shrewdly combined with expressive freedom and spontaneity… Every time he visits Sydney, Wolff gives performances that stimulate and excite in equal measure. I hope we’ll see him again.”

The Australian - Jun 2009

“Wolff stays always at the heart of the music; it was a pleasure to hear music so ably shape. ..Wolff kept a brisk but unobtrusive pace, barely pausing between movements yet never leaving any question where in the piece one was; the longest rest came in the moments before the final coda, and so absolute was his control by then that he held the whole auditorium in suspended silence.”

Washington Post - Nov 2009

Hugh Wolff [] is among the leading conductors of his generation.  He has appeared with all the major North American orchestras including those of Chicago, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cleveland, Toronto and Montréal.  Wolff is much in demand in Europe, where he has conducted the London Symphony, the Philharmonia orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony, Orchestre National de France, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic and the Bavarian and Berlin Radio Orchestras. He is a regular guest conductor with orchestras in Japan, Scandinavia and Australia and a frequent conductor at summer music festivals including Aspen, Tanglewood and Ravinia.

Wolff was Principal Conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra (1997-2006), and maintains a close relationship with that ensemble. He led the orchestra on tour in Europe, japan and China and appeared at the Salzburg, Rheingau, and Mozart Würzburg Festivals. The Sunday Times wrote of their recording of George Antheil’s Symphonies Numbers 1 & 6, ‘the Frankfurt Radio SO under Wolff dazzles throughout.

Wolff was Principal Conductor and then Music Director of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (1988-2000), with whom he recorded twenty discs and toured the United States, Europe and Japan.  Of this partnership, the New York Times wrote: ‘The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Hugh Wolff, has developed an effortlessly polished sound...Wolff shapes his interpretations with impeccable taste.’

A conductor whose interests span Baroque performance practice and the championing of new works, Wolff was music director of the New Jersey Symphony (1986-1993) and music director of Chicago's Grant Park Music Festival (1994-1997). He began his career in 1979 as associate conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra under Mstislav Rostropovich. Wolff has an extensive discography including a complete set of Beethoven symphonies with the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra, music from the Baroque to the present and new works of John Corigliano, John Harbison, Aaron Kernis, Edgar Meyer, and Mark-Anthony Turnage. He has collaborated on CD with Mstislav Rostropovich, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn, Dawn Upshaw, Jennifer Larmore, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and jazz guitarist John Scofield. Three times Grammy Award nominated his recording of the Barber and Meyer Violin Concertos with Hilary Hahn for Sony Classical, along with the disc of Antheil Symphonies Numbers 1 & 6, won a 2001 Cannes Classical Award.

Born in Paris in 1953 to American parents, Wolff spent his early years in London and Washington DC.  After graduating from Harvard, Wolff returned on a fellowship to Paris, where he studied conducting with Charles Bruck and composition with Olivier Messiaen.  He then continued his studies in Baltimore with Leon Fleisher. Wolff and his wife, Judith Kogan, have three sons and live in Boston.

July 2015