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 returns to conduct Tonkünstler Orchester in Austria

26 Oct 2015

Hugh Wolff will visit Austria next week, conducting Tonkünstler Orchester in 3 concerts at Musikverein, Vienna and the Festpielhaus in St Pölten from 1 - 3 November....

Hugh Wolff returns to Aspen Music Festival and School

11 Aug 2015

Next week, Hugh will conduct Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra as part of this year’s Aspen Music Festival. The orchestra will perform Mahler Symphony No. 5 and Mozart Violin Concerto No. 4, the...

Hugh Wolff at Sarasota Music Festival

15 Jun 2015

Hugh Wolff makes his first appearance at the Sarasota Music Festival this week, a festival that showcases the talents of student musicians by inviting internationally recognized guest artists to...

Hugh Wolff returns to Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR

13 Apr 2015

Hugh Wolff returns to Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR to conduct the world’s premier solo percussionist, Evelyn Glennie in Dougherty’s Dreamachine, premiered in May 2014. Hugh and Evelyn...

Hugh Wolff in Kuala Lumpa with Malaysia Philharmonic

24 Feb 2015

Hugh Wolff will make his debut with Malaysian Philharmonic in Kuala Lumpur this week, conducting an exciting programme of Stravinksy Fireworks, Shostakovich Symphony No. 10 and Dvorak Violin...

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...

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“Mr. Wolff and his young charges closed the concert with a bang-up performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 6. The Presto finale, with the young players reveling in the thrill of collective virtuosity, was sheer joy.”

The New York Times - Jul 2013

“[The] gifted and important American conductor…led a splendid program with playing to match by the CSO…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 piccoloist Joan Voorhees) – to the sorrowful slow movement.” - Jan 2011

“Wolff's Shostakovich 10 was powerful, three-dimensional and devastating, and the Atlanta Symphony blossomed by his approach. Much of the opening movement builds to an unbearable tension. Wolff paced it tautly and meaningfully, with understated authority. When the music finally crossed that emotional threshold and plummeted into some dark netherworld of a broken psyche, Wolff did not, would not, relent... Credit Wolff with delivering the crucial essence of a harrowing masterpiece of the 20th century.”

ArtsAtl - Nov 2010

“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.

January 2016