Howard Griffiths

Howard Griffiths was born in England and studied at the Royal College of Music in London. He has lived in Switzerland since 1981. Howard Griffiths was the Artistic Director of the Zurich Chamber Orchestra for ten years and has appeared as a guest conductor with many leading orchestras all over the world. These include the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra London, the Orchestre National de France, Radio Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Warsaw Philharmonic, the Basle Symphony Orchestra, the London Mozart Players, the Orquesta Nacional de España, various radio orchestras in Germany (NDR, SWR and WDR), the Polish Chamber Orchestra, as well as the English Chamber Orchestra and the Northern Sinfonia.


Howard Griffiths was Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Zurich Chamber Orchestra from 1996 to 2006, and successfully continued its long tradition of excellence in every respect. His work with the orchestra also involved extended tours of Europe, the United States and China, which were enthusiastically received by audiences and critics alike, both in Switzerland and abroad.


Since the season 2007/08 he is Artistic Director of the Brandenburg Staatsorchester. His first concert of the season met with critical acclaim, and Howard Griffiths immediately made it clear which journey he would be embarking on with the Staatsorchester: a journey to lightness, ease and transparency. […] Quite apart from all the emotional intensity and expressive simplicity, nuances and thematic developments that would otherwise have been submerged in the smooth sea of notes suddenly became audible. That makes us curious to hear more of Griffiths’ revelatory performances of the repertoire. (MOZ)


Howard Griffiths is also committed to regular performances of contemporary music. Examples include his direction of the Collegium Novum Zurich at the Swiss première performance of Hans Werner Henze’s Requiem in the presence of the composer and his close collaboration with composers such as Sofia Gubaidulina, George Crumb, Arvo Pärt and Mauricio Kagel.


Howard Griffiths is always receptive to new, unconventional projects. Together with the Basle Symphony Orchestra, for example, he conducted Gustav Mahler’s Eighth Symphony – the “Symphony of the Thousand” – with more than one thousand performers. With the Zurich Chamber Orchestra (ZKO), Howard Griffiths realised successful crossover projects, such as with Giora Feidman, Roby Lakatos, Burhan Ocal or Abdullah Ibrahim. Howard Griffiths also enjoyed great success with the ZKO conducting the original music for films by Charles Chaplin, which accompanied the films projected onto the big screen.


More than sixty CD recordings with various labels (including Warner, Universal, cpo, Sony and Koch) bear witness to Howard Griffiths’ broad artistic range. These recordings include works by contemporary Swiss and Turkish composers as well as première recordings of rediscovered music dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. Howard Griffiths’ recordings of all the eight symphonies by Beethoven’s pupil Ferdinand Ries met with worldwide critical acclaim. Readers of the British magazine Classic CD voted ’ recording of works by Gerald Finzi “Classical CD of the Year” in this category.


Howard Griffiths performs with numerous renowned artists, including Maurice André, Kathleen Battle, Joshua Bell, Rudolf Buchbinder, Augustin Dumay, Sir James Galway, Bruno Leonardo Gelber, Evelyn Glennie, Edita Gruberova, Mischa Maisky, Olli Mustonen, Güher and Süher Pekinel, Mikhail Pletnev, Julian Rachlin, Vadim Repin, Maria João Pires, Fazil Say, Gil Shaham and Thomas Zehetmair. Apart from his collaboration with renowned soloists and orchestras, Howard Griffiths is also extremely committed to supporting and promoting young musicians. This is reflected in his work for the Orpheum Foundation for the Advancement of Young Soloists, of which he has been Artistic Director since 2000.


In the annual New Year’s Honours List, which is announced on New Year’s Day by Queen Elizabeth II, Howard Griffiths was appointed a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of his services to musical life in Switzerland.