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Christoph Eschenbach (* February 20, 1940, Breslau, Germany (today Wrocław, Poland) is a German pianist and conductor.
His parents were Margarethe (née Jaross) and Heribert Ringmann. He was born during the Second World War; his mother died during childbirth and his father, a fervent anti-Nazi, was sent to the eastern front where he was executed.As a result, the boy did not speak for a year until he was asked if he wanted to learn music. He was adopted in 1946 by a cousin of his mother, Wallydore Eschenbach (née Jaross), with whom two years later he moved to live in Holstein once freed her husband, Wolfram Eschenbach, who would adopt him.
At the age of 11, he was impressed by watching Wilhelm Furtwängler direct. He studied piano with Eliza Hansen and in 1955 at the Musikhochschule Cologne with Hans-Otto Schmidt-Neuhaus. In 1959, he began studying orchestral conducting with Wilhelm Brückner-Rüggeberg at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg.
As a pianist he won several competitions, including Clara Haskil in Vevey in 1965. He continued to study direction with George Szell and with Herbert von Karajan, who was his mentor for twenty years.
In 1981 Eschenbach was appointed principal conductor of the Tonhalle in Zurich, of which he was general director between 1982 and 1986. He later became general director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra (1988-1999), of the NDR Symphony Orchestra , Hamburg (1998-2004) and the Ravinia Festival (1994-2005).
In 2000 he was appointed director of the Orchester de Paris, a position he held until 2010. He also made his debut at the Bayreuth Festival in 2000, directing Parsifal.
In 2003, he was appointed director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, a post in which he had disputes and disagreements. His contract was renewed, but in 2006 he announced his effective resignation at the end of the 2007-2008 season < / p>
In September 2008, the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington announced him as its new director starting in 2010, a position he currently combines with that of artistic director of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts of the American capital.
Eschenbach has promoted the careers of Renée Fleming, Lang Lang and other stars of music.
He has made more than 80 recordings as a soloist and director.
He was decorated with the Legion of Honor in 2002 and with the Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland.
He won the Leonard Bernstein Prize (1993).
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