François-Xavier Roth (born Paris, 1971) is one of today’s most charismatic and enterprising conductors. He has been General Music Director of the City of Cologne since 2015, leading both the Gürzenich Orchestra and the Opera. He is Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and the first-ever Associate Artist of the Philharmonie de Paris and has recently been named Artistic Director of Atelier Lyrique de Tourcoing.
With a reputation for inventive programming, his incisive approach and inspiring leadership are valued around the world. He is working with leading orchestras including the Staatskapelle Berlin, Boston Symphony, Cleveland, San Francisco Symphony and Zurich Tonhalle. In 2019-20, he makes return visits to the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, Orchestre de Paris, Montreal Symphony, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony, Munich Philharmonic and Mahler Chamber Orchestras, makes a double appearance with the Boulez Ensemble and will make his debut with the Leipzig Gewandhaus.
In 2003, he founded Les Siècles, an innovative orchestra performing contrasting and colourful programmes on modern and period instruments, often within the same concert. With Les Siècles, he has given concerts throughout Europe and toured to China and Japan. They recreated the original sound of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring in its centenary year and, subsequently, with the Pina Bausch and Dominique Brun dance companies in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai and Tokyo. The orchestra has been nominated for Gramophone Magazine’s Orchestra of the Year Award.
His concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra this season explore works by Bartók, Berio, Stravinsky and Elgar and feature a new commission from Sophya Polevaya. There will be visits to Paris and Lyon. The third CD in the Panufnik Legacies series will be released during this period.
In his fifth Cologne opera season, he leads new productions of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde and Berlioz’ Béatrice et Bénédict and a revival of Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten. With the Gürzenich Orchestra, he continues his Bruckner cycle, exploration of Berlioz and features new commissions from Gander and Srnka alongside works by Bach, Rameau and Rebel. In celebration of the Beethoven Year, The New Academy carries the spirit with which Beethoven staged his academy concerts in Vienna into the here and now, juxtaposing intense moments of Beethoven’s music with particular, contemporary hallmark styles. The New Academy will also tour to London, Munich, Hamburg and Lyon.
Recordings include the complete tone poems of Richard Strauss, as Principal Conductor of the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden & Freiburg (2011-16) and, with Les Siècles, the three Stravinsky ballets (The Rite of Spring won German Record Critics’ and Edison Klassiek Prizes). Releases of a complete Ravel cycle for Harmonia Mundi include Daphnis and Chloé (Gramophone Awards Orchestral Album of the Year 2018) and Ma mère l’Oye. Mirages, a vocal recital with Sabine Devieilhe for Erato, was Victoires de la Musique Classique Recording of the Year 2018. Two albums commemorate Debussy’s centenary (including Jeux and Nocturnes) and the 150th anniversary of Berlioz’ death (Harold en Italie and Les nuits d’été). With the Gürzenich Orchestra, their recording of Mahler’s Third symphony joins their Fifth, both works having been premiered by this orchestra. A DVD of his first concert as London Symphony Orchestra Principal Guest Conductor, The Young Debussy, was released in August.
Engagement with new audiences is an essential part of François-Xavier Roth’s work. With the Festival Berlioz and Les Siècles, he founded the Jeune Orchestre Européen Hector Berlioz, a unique orchestra‑academy with its own collection of period instruments. Roth and Les Siècles devised Presto!, a television series for France 2, attracting weekly audiences of over three million. The Gürzenich Orchestra’s Ohrenauf! youth programme was recipient of a Junge Ohren Produktion Award.
A tireless champion of contemporary music, he has been conductor of the ground-breaking LSO Panufnik Composers Scheme since 2005. Roth has premiered works by Yann Robin, Georg-Friedrich Haas, Hèctor Parra and Simon Steen-Anderson and collaborated with composers like Pierre Boulez, Wolfgang Rihm, Jörg Widmann, Helmut Lachenmann and Philippe Manoury.
For his achievements as musician, conductor, music director and teacher, François-Xavier Roth was created a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur.