Gerard Schwarz

About the Artist:

Gerard Schwarz


Renowned American conductor Gerard Schwarz celebrates his 21st season as Music Director of the Seattle Symphony, his fifth year as Music Director of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and his second season with the Eastern Music Festival, now as Principal Conductor.

His vast repertoire, including his unparalleled devotion to the music of our time, has earned him international praise both in concerts and on recordings, for his compelling sensitivity and extraordinary depth.

Maestro Schwarz’ extensive commitment to the organizations which he has been affiliated has garnered him a reputation as an orchestra builder. He was Music Director of the New York Chamber Symphony from 1978-2001, through his 25th season, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra from 1977-1985, the Waterloo Music Festival from 1976-1994, the Music Today Contemporary Series from 1981-1989, Bunkamura/Tokyo Philharmonic from 1994-1998, and Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival from 1982-2001.

His eminent tenure at the Mostly Mozart Festival was lauded for his expansive and innovative programming, including mini-festivals of Haydn and Schubert, early Mozart Operas in concert, renowned debuts, children’s concerts, outdoor free concerts, NY state tours, appearances at the Tanglewood and Ravinia Festivals, a nine-year residency in Tokyo’s Bunkarmura Hall, and Live from Lincoln Center performances. In 2002, Maestro Schwarz’ final Live from Lincoln Center PBS performance of Mozart’s Requeim was nominated for a Prime Time Emmy.

Maestro Schwarz’ 21st year as Music Director of the Seattle Symphony commemorates his devotion to the city he calls home, and an era of unprecedented artistic growth of the Seattle Symphony. Upon his arrival in 1983, there were just 5,000 subscribers. Today, there are nearly 40,000. During his years in Seattle he has created educational programs for children and adults: Tiny Tots, Discover Music, Meet the Beat and Musically Speaking, greatly expanded the regular subscription concerts, both in content and numbers, added new series: New Music, Mozart, Baroque, and Light Classics, and created the following festivals: Pacific Rim, Viva La Musica, American Symphonists in ’05 and ’06, and The New European in ’07.

With Schwarz, the Seattle Symphony has given over 50 premieres of contemporary composers, including six newly commissioned works to celebrate the orchestra’s Centennial Season. In 1996 and again in 2004, the Seattle Symphony and Maestro Schwarz received the First Place Award for Programming of Contemporary Music from ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers). In 2004, as part of the Centennial celebration, the Seattle Symphony and Maestro Schwarz embarked on an East Coast Tour with a premier of Bright Sheng’s The Phoenix, culminating in their critically acclaimed Carnegie Hall debut.

His over 100 recordings with the Seattle Symphony, many including music of contemporary American composers, have received widespread recognition, including 11 Grammy nominations. His first recording of music by Howard Hanson was a mainstay on Billboard’s classical music charts for 41 weeks and earned a 1989 Record of the Year award from Stereo Review. His next three Howard Hanson recordings also appeared on the Billboard charts, as did his Mount St. Helen’s Symphony by Alan Hovhaness.

In addition to his extensive Seattle Symphony discography, his additional 100 recordings are with the Czech Philharmonic, London Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Berlin Radio, Orchestre National de France, English Chamber Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, LA Chamber Orchestra, New York Chamber Symphony, Mostly Mozart, among others. Recent recording activity includes all the Mahler symphonies and Strauss tone poems with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, a William Schuman series with the Seattle Symphony, and his extensive discography for the Milken Archive for American Jewish Music. In addition he has received numerous Stereo Review Awards, and a Mumms Ovation Award.

In 1984 Maestro Schwarz conducted the world premiere of Wagner’s second opera, Das Liebesverbot and Wagner’s version of Gluck’s Iphigenia in Aulis-both at the Waterloo Festival. He has conducted for the Seattle Opera, the Washington Opera, San Francisco Opera, the Juilliard Opera, and the Kirov Opera. His extensive repertoire includes operas by: Mozart, Beethoven, Weber, Wagner, Verdi, Strauss, Debussy, Janacek, Stravinsky, Taylor, Hansen, and William Schuman.

In addition to his 2002 PBS prime time Emmy nomination, Maestro Schwarz’s television credits include: Live from Lincoln Center broadcasts; a 1984 KCTS TV/Seattle (PBS) broadcast of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2; Front Row Center, a KING TV/Seattle (NBC) award-winning 1985 broadcast featuring Copland’s Billy the Kid suite; A Grand Night, PBS/Chicago March 1988 celebration; two live KCTS broadcasts of his acclaimed Musically Speaking concerts; a live nationally telecast in France with the Orchestre Philharmonique; A Romantic Evening, a broadcast on KCTS in 1993, which received a NW Regional Emmy Award; a live broadcast by KCTS of the Gala Opening Night Concert in Benaroya Hall; and  in 1999 National PBS TV Broadcast of “Seattle Symphony: Home at Last.” In the summer of 2005, Maestro Schwarz and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic performed the Vaughn Williams Sea Symphony at the Proms in London, to a sell-out crowd of 6,000. It was aired live on BBC TV 4 and BBC Radio 3.

In May 2002, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) recognized Gerard Schwarz as a champion of American music and the music of our time. According to ASCAP, Maestro Schwarz “exemplifies the ideal American conductor, ASCAP honors his leadership and commitment to bring the music of our time to audiences everywhere, through his concerts and recordings.”

Maestro Schwarz has received a number of other awards, including the prestigious Ditson Conductor’s Award from Columbia University, and the 1994 Conductor of the Year by Musical America. In 2003, the Pacific Northwest Branch of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences gave Maestro Schwarz its first “IMPACT” lifetime achievement award. Mr. Schwarz currently serves on the National Council for the Arts.

Born to Viennese parents, Maestro Schwarz is a graduate of the High School of Performing Arts and the Juilliard School. He holds honorary Doctorates from the Juilliard School, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Seattle University, Cornish College of the Arts, and the University of Puget Sound. In addition, he holds an Honorary Fellowship from John Moores University in Liverpool.