Michael Schønwandt was born in 1953, and is chief conductor at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen and of the Royal Danish Orchestra. Since his début in the Tivoli Gardens in 1977 he has been one of the most sought-after conductors of his generation. He has been chief conductor of Collegium Musicum from the founding of the orchestra in 1981. In 1987–91 Schønwandt was principal guest conductor of the opera and symphony orchestra in Nice, and in 1989–2000 he was principal guest conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra/DR. Finally, in 1992–98 he was chief conductor of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra.
Besides his permanent connection with Danish musical life he appears regularly with the leading orchestras of Europe. The Berlin Philharmonic, the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, the French Radio Symphony Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, l’Orchestre National de France and the BBC Symphony Orchestra are just some of the orchestras he has conducted in recent years. The opera houses in London, Paris, Vienna, Brussels, Nice and Stuttgart have also been regular ports of call for him. In 1987 and 1988 he was the first Scandinavian conductor ever to conduct at the Wagner Festspiele in Bayreuth. He headed last season’s successful performances of Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, where he has conducted a succession of operas since 1979.
He was actually supposed to take over his father’s textile dye agency. But instead Michael Schønwandt became one of Denmark’s finest equilibrists with musical colours. From the conductor’s stand he is able to get musicians to play on the whole palette of sounds.