Thomas Hengelbrock

Thomas Hengelbrock
Born (1958-06-09) 9 June 1958
  • Violinist
  • Musicologist
  • Stage director
  • Conductor

Thomas Hengelbrock (born 9 June 1958 in Wilhelmshaven) is a German violinist, musicologist, stage director and conductor. He is the founder and director of the Balthasar-Neumann-Chor and the Balthasar-Neumann-Ensemble. Since 2011, he has been the principal conductor of the NDR Symphony Orchestra.


Thomas Hengelbrock studied the violin with Rainer Kussmaul and started his career in Würzburg and Freiburg im Breisgau.[1] He worked as an assistant to Witold Lutosławski, Mauricio Kagel and Antal Doráti and played with ensembles such as Concentus Musicus Wien under Nikolaus Harnoncourt. In 1985 he cofounded the Freiburger Barockorchester where he worked as a violinist and a conductor.[2]

Thomas Hengelbrock founded in Freiburg the choir Balthasar-Neumann-Chor in 1991 and in 1995 the orchestra Balthasar-Neumann-Ensemble to perform works from Baroque to contemporary music in Historically informed performances, such as Verdi's operas Rigoletto and Falstaff at the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden in 2004 and 2007.

He was the conductor of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen from 1995 to 1999, and musical director of the Volksoper Wien from 2000 to 2003. In 2001 he founded the "Feldkirch Festival" in Feldkirch, Vorarlberg, and served as its artistic director until 2006.[1]

He has been invited as conductor of such international orchestras as the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.[1]

Hengelbrock made his debut at the Bayreuth Festival conducting Wagner's Tannhäuser in 2011.[3][4]

He succeeded Christoph von Dohnányi as principal conductor of the NDR Symphony Orchestra in 2011.[5][6]

Special projects

For the EXPO 2000 Thomas Hengelbrock created "Ekklesiastische Aktion" with music of Bernd Alois Zimmermann, György Ligeti and Johann Sebastian Bach. He has collaborated with composers such as Jan Müller-Wieland, Qigang Chen, Erkki-Sven Tüür and Simon Wills.

He staged himself opera productions with his Balthasar Neumann choir and ensemble, such as Mozart's Don Giovanni for the Feldkirch Festival 2006 or Il re pastore for the Salzburg Festival 2006.

In a collaboration with Pina Bausch he conducted Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice in Paris in 2005. The Balthasar-Neumann-Chor, Ensemble and the Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris performed it in the Palais Garnier. In 2008 they performed it also in the ancient Greek theatre in Epidaurus.[7][8][9] The performance is recorded on DVD.

In 2008 he performed at the Konzerthaus Dortmund Weber's Der Freischütz with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Later it was also staged in Baden-Baden by Bob Wilson,[3] and Bach's Mass in B minor with the Balthasar-Neumann-Ensemble.[10]

In June 2010 he performed in Dortmund Bellini's opera Norma with Cecilia Bartoli who sang the title role for the first time.[11]

Selected recordings


  1. 1 2 3 Thomas Hengelbrock Lucerne Festival
  2. Thomas Hengelbrock Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, 2007 (in German)
  3. 1 2 Thomas Hengelbrock, April 2009
  4. Tannhäuser Bayreuth Festival 2011
  5. Dirigent Thomas Hengelbrock geht nach Hamburg Badische Zeitung, 28 March 2009
  6. Chefdirigent: Thomas Hengelbrock NDR 2011
  7. Gluck: Orpheus und Eurydike Balthasar Neumann Chor und Ensemble
  8. Pina Bausch lässt Orpheus in Griechenland tanzen (Pina Bausch lets Orpheus dance in Greece) Westdeutsche Zeitung, 6 June 2008 (in German)
  9. Der magische Moment (The Magical Moment) review of Renate Klett in taz, 25 July 2008 (in German)
  10. Dirigent Thomas Hengelbrock: „Seid Künstler, bleibt Künstler!” Interview with Nadine Albach, WAZ, May 2009 (in German)
  11. Julia Gaß (2010-06-30). ""Norma"-Debüt der Bartoli mit Jubelorkan gefeiert" (in German). Ruhrnachrichten. Retrieved 2010-07-01.
  12. Choice 17th century repertoire from St Mark’s‚ Venice in expressive performances review in Gramophone, October 2001
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