Klaus Tennstedt

Biography

Born: June 6, 1926; Merseburg, Germany   Died: January 11, 1998; Kiel, Germany  
A man who had thought life held no greater challenge than could be provided by a smaller theater or second-tier orchestra somewhere in Central Europe, conductor Klaus Tennstedt found himself propelled into the celebrity spotlight following several acclaimed guest appearances. His frail psyche and unstable health eventually broke under the weight of these responsibilities and he was obliged to all but retire from active conducting. Nonetheless, Read more those all-too-few years of international productivity revealed an intense, revelatory approach to familiar Romantic period scores and the rapturous applause he received from audiences and players alike was entirely deserved.

Tennstedt began his musical training with his father, violinist Hermann Tennstedt. After studies in violin and conducting at the Leipzig Hochschule für Musik, young Tennstedt was engaged as orchestra leader at the Halle Stadttheater in 1948. Forced by a growth on his left hand to abandon the violin, Tennstedt redirected his energies to piano and conducting and he made his debut as conductor at Halle in 1952. Beginning in 1954, he was appointed a concertmaster at the opera in Chemnitz and in 1958, he became general music director at the Dresden Staatsoper, a position he held until 1962. From 1962 to 1971, Tennstedt was general music director at the Mecklenburg Staatsoper in Schwerin, a period that afforded him time for guest appearances with the Dresden Staatskapelle and Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestras, among other ensembles in Eastern European and Soviet bloc cities. When directing a 1971 concert in Sweden, Tennstedt elected to defect and thereafter began a period of work with the Swedish Radio Orchestra. Another position as general music director opened for him in 1972, this time at Kiel, and he remained in that post until 1976.

Meanwhile, a life-altering event for Tennstedt occurred in 1974. Invited to Canada to conduct the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in Bruckner's Symphony No. 7, the conductor's performance was greeted with such thunderous acclamation that word began to travel around the world. A Boston Symphony Orchestra appearance shortly thereafter brought international interest and Tennstedt's direction of Bruckner's Symphony No. 8 was the stuff from which legends are born. Invitations came from New York, Cleveland, Chicago, and Philadelphia, the other "big five" American orchestras. The amazed conductor made his British debut with the London Symphony Orchestra in 1976, prompting additional engagements with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, and the Paris Orchestra. Tennstedt was honored by becoming the first German conductor to conduct the Israel Philharmonic in 1978 and a year later was engaged by Hamburg's NDR Symphony Orchestra as principal conductor, a position he held until 1981. In 1979, he also became principal guest conductor with the Minnesota Orchestra and, from 1980, he held the same title with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1983, Tennstedt was appointed music director of the London Philharmonic, leading the orchestra in recordings and on tours abroad that won adulatory reviews. In 1983, he made his debut with the Metropolitan Opera, leading impressive performances of Fidelio despite less than fully satisfactory singers.

Eventually, the burdens of celebrity exacted an immense toll. Two hip replacements, radiation treatment for throat cancer, and increasing numbers of cancellations hounded his work. Self-doubt crippled his ability to continue working at the level that had brought him fame. Doctors ordered extended periods of rest, but to little lasting benefit. When he collapsed at a rehearsal in 1987, Tennstedt resigned his post with the LPO, conducting the orchestra infrequently thereafter as conductor laureate. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 65 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    100 Best Children's Classics
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 548472 Release Date: 07/31/2020   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Gioachino Rossini  ... 
    Performer:  Itzhak Perlman,  Katia Labčque,  Marielle Labčque,  Moura Lympany  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Riccardo Muti,  Simon Rattle  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    Mahler Symphonies - Live in Concert / Tennstedt, London Philharmonic
    Label: Lpo   Catalog: 100 Release Date: 10/04/2019   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Thomas Hampson,  Jard Van Nes,  Yvonne Kenny,  Jane Eaglen  ... 
    Conductor:  Klaus Tennstedt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 3.
    Stravinsky: Petrushka & The Firebird / Tennstedt, London Philharmonic
    Label: Lpo   Catalog: 105 Release Date: 04/06/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
    Conductor:  Klaus Tennstedt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 4.
    Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 & Coriolan Overture / Tennstedt, North German Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 215 Release Date: 06/02/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Conductor:  Klaus Tennstedt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  NDR Symphony Orchestra
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  • 5.
    Wagner: Die Walkure, Act 1 / Kollo, Tennstedt, London Philharmonic
    Label: Lpo   Catalog: 0092 Release Date: 10/14/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Eva-Maria Bundschuh,  John Tomlinson,  René Kollo
    Conductor:  Klaus Tennstedt
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  • 6.
    Gustav Mahler Edition
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 14000 Release Date: 06/10/2016   Number of Discs: 21
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler,  Carl Maria von Weber
    Performer:  Jard van Nes,  Charlotte Margiono,  Dennis Egan,  Helen Watts  ... 
    Conductor:  Bruno Walter,  Bernard Haitink,  Jascha Horenstein,  Klaus Tennstedt  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Symphony Orchestra,  Saxony State Opera Chorus Dresden,  Dresden Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 7.
    Beethoven: Coriolan Overture; Symphony No. 5
    Label: Lpo   Catalog: 87 Release Date: 10/09/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Conductor:  Klaus Tennstedt
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  • 8.
    Mahler: Symphony No. 5, Kindertotenlieder / Tennstedt, NDR Symphony
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 13058 Release Date: 06/09/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Brigitte Fassbaender
    Conductor:  Klaus Tennstedt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  North German Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 9.
    Kyung-Wha Chung: The Complete Warner Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 2564614053 Release Date: 05/12/2015   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Claude Debussy,  Antonín Dvorák,  Jacques Ibert  ... 
    Performer:  Kyung-Wha Chung,  Itamar Golan,  Myung-Wha Chung,  Myung-Whun Chung  ... 
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle,  Klaus Tennstedt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 10.
    Mahler: Complete Symphonies / Tennstedt
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 627828 Release Date: 09/02/2014   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  David Hill
    Conductor:  Klaus Tennstedt
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  • 11.
    Wagner: Opera Scenes / Tennstedt, Norman, London Philharmonic
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 256463 Release Date: 02/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Jessye Norman
    Conductor:  Klaus Tennstedt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 12.
    Brahms: Symphony No 1; Martinu: Symphony No 4 / Tennstedt
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5090 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Bohuslav Martinu
    Conductor:  Klaus Tennstedt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Essential Opera Divas
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 234522 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Arleen [Soprano Vocal] Augér,  Patrizia Ciofi,  Véronique Gens,  Jessye Norman  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox,  Fabio Biondi,  Christophe Rousset,  Klaus Tennstedt  ... 
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  • 14.
    Brahms: Symphonies 1 & 3 / Tennstedt, London Philharmonic
    Label: Lpo   Catalog: 68 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Conductor:  Klaus Tennstedt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 15.
    The Essential Wagner
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 973399 Release Date: 11/06/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Siegfried Jerusalem,  Peter Haage,  Nicolai Gedda,  Reiner Goldberg  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Heger,  Sir Adrian Boult,  Klaus Tennstedt,  Bernard Haitink  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Bavarian State Opera Chorus,  New Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 16.
    Essential Film Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 5134 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Richard Wagner,  James Horner,  John Williams  ... 
    Performer:  David Bell,  Manuel Barrueco,  Steve Morse,  Maria Callas  ... 
    Conductor:  Klaus Tennstedt,  Mariss Jansons,  David Abel,  Geoff Love  ... 
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  • 17.
    Mahler: Symphony No 4; Mozart / Tennstedt, Boston
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5072 Release Date: 05/29/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Phyllis Bryn-Julson
    Conductor:  Klaus Tennstedt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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  • 18.
    Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante; Haydn: Symphony No 64 / Tennstedt
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 10050 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Joseph Haydn
    Performer:  Gerti Zeumer
    Conductor:  Klaus Tennstedt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsches Symphony Orchestra,  Pro Arte String Trio,  Baden-Baden Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 19.
    Bruckner: Symphony No 7 / Tennstedt, Boston Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5066 Release Date: 03/27/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anton Bruckner
    Conductor:  Klaus Tennstedt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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  • 20.
    Mahler: Symphony No 3 / Tennstedt, London Philharmonic
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5033 Release Date: 10/25/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Conductor:  Klaus Tennstedt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 21.
    Anthology Of The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Vol 6 - Live Radio Recordings 1990-2000
    Label: Rco Live   Catalog: 11004 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Luciano Berio,  Hector Berlioz  ... 
    Performer:  Ildiko Komlósi,  Kolos Kovacs,  Martha Argerich,  Ann Murray  ... 
    Conductor:  Iván Fischer,  Claus Peter Flor,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Luciano Berio  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Swingle Singers,  Netherlands Radio Women's Chorus
    Recommendation
    CD: $115.49
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  • 22.
    The Very Best Of Kyung-wha Chung
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 94780 Release Date: 07/26/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Johannes Brahms,  Antonín Dvorák,  Fritz Kreisler  ... 
    Performer:  Robert Wolinsky,  Kyung-Wha Chung,  Peter Frankl,  Itamar Golan
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  Simon Rattle,  Klaus Tennstedt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chung Trio
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  • 23.
    Kodaly: Hary Janos; Dances Of Galanta; Dances Of Marosszek; Missa Brevis; Solo Cello Sonata
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 94678 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Zoltán Kodály
    Performer:  Stephen Layton,  Vladimir Yampolsky,  David Oistrakh,  Paul Tortelier
    Conductor:  Klaus Tennstedt,  Walter Susskind,  Stephen Cleobury,  Ilona Andor
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  • 24.
    Mahler: Symphony No. 8
    Label: Lpo   Catalog: 52 Release Date: 03/29/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Jadwiga Rappé,  Trudeliese Schmidt,  Jane Eaglen,  Julia Varády  ... 
    Conductor:  Klaus Tennstedt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus,  Eton College Boys' Choir
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  • 25.
    Mahler: Des Knaben Wunderhorn, Etc / Tennstedt, Popp, Weikl
    Label: Emi Classics Red Line   Catalog: 569862 Release Date: 07/13/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Lucia Popp,  Bernd Weikl,  Thomas Allen
    Conductor:  Klaus Tennstedt,  Jeffrey Tate
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra
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