Daniel Harding rocketed to the ranks of international star conductors at an astonishingly young age, conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra before he was twenty-one years old.
His musical education started with recorder classes as a schoolboy, then violin lessons. He chose trumpet as his instrument. When he was fourteen Harding decided he wanted to be a conductor. The next year he had the idea of conducting Schoenberg's PierrotRead more Lunaire with his school orchestra.
Harding wrote to Simon Rattle, the conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Rattle, who himself had great success at an early age, says that when he saw the letter he thought Harding was "crazy."
Nevertheless, when he came to see for himself Rattle was impressed. He took Harding as a student when the latter was sixteen old. At the age of seventeen, Harding became Rattle's assistant. This resulted in Harding making his professional conducting debut in 1994 with the CBSO. This appearance won the Royal Philharmonic Society's "Best Debut" Award for the 1993-1994 season.
Harding was hired at the age of eighteen by Hans Werner Henze to participate in the preparations for the Munich Biennial Festival. During the same year, Pierre Boulez accepted Harding into his master class.
At the age of nineteen he participated in a performance of Stockhausen's Gruppen, a work requiring three conductors, at the "Towards the Millennium" Festival. Rattle and John Carewe were the other conductors.
Claudio Abbado engaged Harding as assistant conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic for the 1995-1996 season. By now he was also receiving opportunities to guest conduct. Among his appearances was a Bartók and Sibelius program with violinist Sarah Chang at the Rotterdam Philharmonic.
During the September 1996 Berlin Festival, Harding received a quintessential lucky break when conductor Franz Welser-Möst fell ill and could not conduct. Without an orchestral rehearsal, he took over the podium in a program of Berlioz's Corsair Overture, Brahms' Double Concerto, and Dvorak's Symphony No. 8 in G major.
The critic of the Berlin Zeitung said that after a momentary sense of nervousness at the start of the concert, Harding led the overture with verve and authority. She praised Harding's alert and sympathetic accompanying of the two soloists in the concerto, and his grasp and elucidation of an over-all line in the symphony while still attentive to the work's details.
In 1996 Harding also became the youngest conductor ever to give a concert in the BBC Proms. In 1997 he became Principal Conductor of the Trondheim (Norway) Symphony Orchestra. He also was guest conductor of the Norrkoping Symphony Orchestra in Sweden and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. In Autumn 1999, he took up the position of Music Director of the Deutsche Kammerephilharmonie.
By then he had already guest conducted widely, appearing with the Santa Cecilia Orchestra of Rome, The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Houston Symphony, the London Philharmonic, and the London Symphony. He has also conducted opera, leading Janacek's Jenufa (Welsh National Opera) and Mozart's Don Giovanni (with a touring company featuring the Mahler Chamber Orchstra). His Royal Opera House debut was scheduled to be in Britten's Turn of the Screw.
He had something of a dream come true when, in 1998, he returned to the BBC Proms to conduct the Scharoun Ensemble (whose members are drawn from the Berlin Philharmonic) in Pierrot Lunaire.
He has signed an exclusive contract with Virgin Records. His first release was music of Schoenberg and Britten, and with the Kammerphilharmonie has recorded a program of Beethoven overtures. Read less
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