Gerd Albrecht was born in 1935 in Essen. At the age of 22, he won his first award for conducting – First Prize in the Besançon International Competition for Young Conductors.
At 27, whilst working in Lübeck, Albrecht became Germany’s youngest General Music Director. This was followed by leading roles in Kassel (1966-72), at the Deutsche Oper Berlin (1972-76), with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich (1975-80) and in Hamburg, where he was General Music Director and Opera Director from 1988 to 1997.
In 1991, in a democratic election, the musicians of the Czech Philharmonic appointed him as the first foreign principal conductor in the (almost) one hundred-year history of the orchestra. Despite having to step down from this position in 1996, as a result of political intrigue, Albrecht has continued to work closely with the orchestra since 2004, taking them to the Salzburg Festival in the summer of 2004 and on a tour of South America in 2006.
From 1997 to 2007, Gerd Albrecht was principal conductor of the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo, where he became the first Conductor Laureate in 2007, and from 2000 to 2004 he led the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Copenhagen. Beginning in the 2012/13 season, Albrecht is the Musical Director of the Besançon International Music Festival.
As a conductor of international opera and concert orchestras, Gerd Albrecht makes frequent guest appearances at the festivals held in Salzburg, Munich, Edinburgh, Lucerne and Vienna.
A keen advocate of contemporary music, Albrecht has directed widely-acclaimed performances of works by, for example, Reimann, Henze, Penderecki, Ligeti and Rihm. He is also greatly interested in reviving unjustly neglected music from the past like, for example, the Theresienstadt composers such as Spohr, Fibich and Wolf.
An important part of Gerd Albrecht’s work and something that is particularly dear to his heart is bringing music to children and young people. Albrecht writes children’s books and has directed and presented over fifty TV films and recordings for children. In 1989 he set up the Hamburger Jugendmusikstiftung, a foundation to promote talented young musicians, and it is still financed by him today. The foundation also runs the Klingendes Museum (Museum of Sound) in Hamburg, which is visited by thousands of schoolchildren every year. Since 2002, the Museum has also been operating in Berlin, offering a wide range of music workshops for children and young people as well as family concerts. Klingende Mobile (sound mobiles) in Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfurt, as well as other German cities, bring instruments and music teachers into schools and nurseries.
Gerd Albrecht is continually offering the benefit of his experience to youth orchestras. He has directed the Bundesjugendorchester (National Youth Orchestra of Germany) on several occasions, for example on tour in Japan and at a memorial concert in the former Theresienstadt concentration camp. In autumn 2011, Albrecht opened the celebrations commemorating “150 years of German-Japanese friendship”, conducting the Young Euro Classic Ensemble in Tokyo, and, at the Orchesterzentrum NRW, he guested in 2011 as conductor-in-residence.
Gerd Albrecht has won many awards for his artistic work as well as for his commitment to social causes. These include the German Record Critics Award (many times), the Adolf Grimme TV Award, the Ferenc Fricsay Medal, the Hermann Voss Prize and the Paul Hindemith Prize.