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GMJO Summer Tour 2015 in retrospect

After nine concerts in eight countries, the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester has finished its Summer Tour 2015 under the baton of Herbert Blomstedt, including successful debuts at the Ravello Festival and the sold-out Teatro Verdi in Pordenone.

Herbert Blomstedt has conducted the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester already for the fourth time on tour and was celebrated by the public and the press as the “doyen of his craft” („Doyen seiner Zunft“, DrehPunktKultur, 27.08.2015) for his interpretation of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8, Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 and Mozart’s Symphony No. 39.

Critics have marvelled at „the supreme serenity with which he led the excellent musicians of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester“, (“mit welch souveräner Gelassenheit er die exzellenten Musiker des Gustav Mahler Jugendorchesters … führte“), and his approach was summed up after the concert at the Salzburg Festival: “Conducting psychology at its best.” („Dirigierpsychologie vom Feinsten.“, Die Presse, 29.08.2015). After the concert at the Eberbach Abbey during the Rheingau Festival, critics pointed out “Blomstedt’s clear and modest conducting style” and called him “one of the greatest Bruckner exegetes of our time” („einer der ganz großen Bruckner-Exegeten unserer Zeit“, Frankfurter Neue Presse, 31.08.2015).

The 63rd tour of the GUSTAV MAHLER JUGENDORCHESTER has led the 110 musicians as every year to the most prominent festivals and concert halls in Europe, amongst others to the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, where the papers wrote about the “dazzling quality of the Mahler Orchestra” („spetterende kwaliteit … bij de mahlerianen“, Trouw, 31.08.2015), to the Salzburg Festival, where the “excellent musicians of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester” (“die exzellenten Musiker des Gustav-Mahler-Jugendorchesters“, Die Presse, 29.08.2015) were highly applauded, and to the Lucerne Festival, where “the alert and committed  Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester” („das hellwach engagierte Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester“ (Luzerner Zeitung, 25.08.2015) impressed with its “crisp incisive playing” (Seen and Heard International, 25.08.2015).


At the invitation of the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, with whom the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester has established a close partnership in 2012, “the orchestra of the best young musicians” played the opening concert at the Frauenkirche “very impressively and captivatingly … like a grand coherent organism “ („sehr eindrucksvoll und mitreißend … wie ein großer, gemeinsamer Organismus“, Der Neue Merker, 26.08.2015).

Under the guidance of assistant conductor LEO MCFALL, the rehearsal period was once again hosted by the Bolzano Festival Bozen, where the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester performed two celebrated concerts that elicited an enthusiastic response from the press, writing about “the most beautiful concert of the year” („Il concerto più bello dell’anno“, l’Adige, 01.09.2015) and “the best orchestra of the world” („La migliore orchestra del mondo“, la Repubblica, 25.08.2015).

The tours of 2016 will bring the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester under the baton of David Afkham, Christoph Eschenbach, Philippe Jordan and Leo McFall as well as with the soloists Gautier Capuçon, Christian Gerhaher and Frank Peter Zimmermann amongst others to Amsterdam, Athens, Berlin, Bolzano, Bratislava, Budapest, Dresden, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Salzburg, Stuttgart and Vienna.  

© Lucerne Festival / Peter Fischl (1)
© RMF / Ansgar Klostermann (2)
© Salzburger Festspiele / Marco Borrelli (3)

Prof. Alfred Altenburger 1927-2015

It is with great sadness that the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester has to announce the passing away of its board member Prof. Alfred Altenburger, aged 88 years, in Vienna.

A long-time board member of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, Prof. Alfred Altenburger was Head of Strings of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester until 2008, he was responsible for the auditions of all string players and was coaching the first violins between 1995-2008, and he was also coaching all GMJO strings in many chamber music projects at our residencies, including the Salzburg Easter Festival, the Lucerne Festival at Easter, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Cité de la Musique Paris, the Festival d´Art Lyrique d´Aix-en-Provence, the Bolzano Festival Bozen, the Vienna Musikverein, and others.

During his tenure, concertmasters of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester include such eminent musicians as Antonello Manacorda, Renaud Capuçon, Vahid Khadem-Missagh, Andreas Neufeld, Raphael Christ, Franz-Markus Siegert, and Carolina Kurkowski-Perez.

He worked closely with our Founder and Music Director Claudio Abbado and with all guest conductors of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, including Herbert Blomstedt, Pierre Boulez, Myung-Whun Chung, Sir Colin Davis, Bernard Haitink, Iván Fischer, Daniele Gatti, Mariss Jansons, Philippe Jordan, Ingo Metzmacher, Kent Nagano, Seiji Ozawa, and Franz Welser-Möst.

Appointed by Claudio Abbado, with whom he enjoyed a life-long friendship, he was the founding Artistic Director of the Gustav Mahler Academy - Fondazione Musica e Gioventù, in Bolzano.

A member of the Vienna Philharmonic for many years, he was speaker ("Vorstand") of this orchestra between 1978 and 1987, and he founded, together with Nikolaus Harnoncourt, his later wife Alice Hoffelner and Eduard Melkus, the "Wiener Gamben Quartett" in 1949.

Generations of violin and string players of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester were selected, coached and most warmly guided by Prof. Alfred Altenburger, and he was truly revered by all of them, as by all his colleagues, all conductors and soloists, all board members, management, and staff.

We shall always remember Prof. Alfred Altenburger with deepest respect, gratitude, and love, and we join his family in mourning this extraordinary personality. His legacy will live on in many future generations of GMJO musicians. May he rest in peace.

Photo credit: Archive GMJO

GMJO Summer Tour 2015

Herbert Blomstedt resumes his successful collaboration with the GUSTAV MAHLER JUGENDORCHESTER on the Summer Tour 2015, conducting the orchestra for the fourth time already since 2008. He has most recently conducted the GMJO in 2013 and continues his series of Bruckner symphonies with one of the cycle’s most complex works, Symphony No. 8 in C minor. The second programme of the tour combines Mozart’s late Symphony No. 39 in E-flat major K. 543 with Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor op. 95.

After the opening concert at the Bolzano Festival Bozen, where the GMJO is in residence, the orchestra will guest appear at the Ravello Festival for the first time. Performances at the Lucerne Festival and the Frauenkirche in Dresden, where the GUSTAV MAHLER JUGENDORCHESTER has established a close partnership with the Sächsische Staatskapelle in 2012, are followed by concerts at the Salzburg Festival, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and the Rheingau Festival. A second concert in Bolzano and the GUSTAV MAHLER JUGENDORCHESTER’S debut in Pordenone conclude the Summer Tour 2015.


Photo: Matthias Creutziger

Rihm in Salzburg - HD Video Documentary

In 2014, the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester commissioned a new Piano Concerto by Wolfgang Rihm, together with the Salzburg Festival and the National Symphony Orchestra – Washington DC. The world premiere took place at the Salzburg Festival on 25 August 2014, with Tzimon Barto, piano and Christoph Eschenbach, conductor – to whom the new piece was also dedicated.

 With generous support from the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung, and in close collaboration with the Salzburg Festival and Universal Edition, this ambitious project was filmed by Myriam Hoyer, from the first rehearsals in Bolzano / Bozen to the world premiere concert in Salzburg; Wolfgang Rihm and Christoph Eschenbach talk about this fascinating new piece, and you can join the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester in discovering, rehearsing and performing Wolfgang Rihm´s Piano Concerto No. 2.

Uploads start on Friday 15 May 2015; every Friday, one video clip will be uploaded:

These High Definition video clips are free, and you are invited to forward, share and comment. Visit our friends and partners, too.


This project was made possible with the kind support of:

With special thanks to:




Leo McFall is winner of the Deutscher Dirigentenpreis 2015

Photo Credit: Peter Adamik

Leo McFall, Assistant Conductor of the GUSTAV MAHLER JUGENDORCHESTER and currently First Kapellmeister at the Theater Meiningen, is the winner of the Deutscher Dirigentenpreis 2015.

Initiated by the DIRIGENTENFORUM of the Deutscher Musikrat in 2006, the award grants Euro 15.000. Leo McFall conducted the Konzerthausorchester Berlin (Hindemith: Symphonic Metamorphoses on themes by Carl Maria von Weber) at the Konzerthaus Berlin on 24 April 2015 and convinced a prominent jury headed by Prof Dr Peter Gülke.

Previous winners include Mikhel Kütson (GMD of the Niederrheinische Sinfoniker at the Theater Krefeld Mönchengladbach), Simon Gaudenz (Principal Conductor of the Hamburg Camerata), Francesco Angelico (Principal Conductor of the Tiroler Landestheater and the Tiroler Symphonieorchester Innsbruck), and Kristiina Poska (Kapellmeister at the Komische Oper Berlin).

The Deutsche Dirigentenpreis is part of the excellency programme for young conductors of the DIRIGENTENFORUM of the Deutscher Musikrat ( in which several Assistant Conductors of the GUSTAV MAHLER JUGENDORCHESTER took part: Patrick Lange (Assistant Conductor 2005-2009), David Afkham (Assistant Conductor 2009-2012), and Leo McFall (Assistant Conductor since 2013). Leo McFall was finalist of the „Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award“ 2014, and since 2009 he took part in the DIRIGENTENFORUM programme.

Most recently, Leo McFall conducted two concerts of the GUSTAV MAHLER JUGENDORCHESTER during the Easter Tour 2015 in Lisbon.

GMJO Easter Tour 2015

British conductor Jonathan Nott will lead the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester on its extraordinary Easter Tour 2015. For the second time with the GMJO, after a successful Summer Tour in 2009, Jonathan Nott will conduct Gustav Mahler’s monumental Symphony No. 2, an absolute first in the history of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester as it is the only Mahler symphony that the orchestra has never yet performed.

For this, both Jonathan Nott and the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester will welcome soprano Chen Reiss and alto Christa Mayer, as well as various local choirs of international standing. The Easter Tour 2015 will take the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester to the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, the Festival de Pâcques in Aix-en-Provence, to Ljubljana’s Cankarjev Dom, to Vienna’s Musikverein, to Hamburg’s Laeiszhalle, to Madrid’s Auditorio Nacional de Música, and to Barcelona’s Palau de la Música Catalana.


Photo: Gregor Khuen Belasi

Christoph Eschenbach receives the Ernst-von-Siemens-Musikpreis 2015

The Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester warmly congratulates Christoph Eschenbach on the Ernst-von-Siemens-Musikpreis 2015

Also regarded as the „Nobel Prize for Music“, the Ernst-von-Siemens-Musikpreis 2015 honours the achievements of both the great conductor and the outstanding pianist Christoph Eschenbach, his life-long support for contemporary music and young musicians. 

Previous award winners include Herbert von Karajan, Leonard Bernstein, GMJO founder and life-long Music Director Claudio Abbado, Benjamin Britten, Henri Dutilleux, Hans Werner Henze, and Wolfgang Rihm.

Christoph Eschenbach led the Summer Tour 2014 of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester which included the world premiere of Wolfgang Rihm´s Piano Concerto no. 2 at the Salzburg Festival.

Bravo, dear Christoph Eschenbach!

Photo: Gregor Khuen Belasi

The GMJO at the Wiener Festwochen

The Wiener Festwochen 2015 programme was announced on 17 December 2014 by festival director Markus Hinterhäuser: the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester will perform Béla Bartók's Bluebeard’s Castle under the direction of Kent Nagano. The Production is by Andrea Breth, her very first opera production in Vienna, with Gábor Bretz as Bluebeard and Nora Gubisch as Judith. The four performances at the Theater an der Wien, between 19 - 25 June 2015, mark the debut of the GMJO at the Wiener Festwochen.


This is the third scenic opera production of the GMJO, after Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle with Pierre Boulez in a production by Pina Bausch at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence 1998, and Richard Wagner’s Parsifal with Claudio Abbado in a production by Peter Stein at the Edinburgh Festival 2002. More recently, the GMJO had a huge success with concert performances of Wagner’s Rienzi under Philippe Jordan at the Salzburg Festival 2013.

Kent Nagano returns as guest conductor of the GMJO after having led the Easter Tour 1998.

To know more, follow the link to the Wiener Festwochen website.

Photo: Wiener Festwochen

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