Markus Stenz has held a number of high-profile positions with international orchestras and opera houses including Principal Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra (2012-2019), Principal Guest of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (2015-2019), and Conductor-In-Residence of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra (2016-2020). He was General Music Director of the City of Cologne and Gürzenich-Kapellmeister for 11 years (from 2003-2014), Principal Guest Conductor of the Hallé Orchestra (2010-2014), Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (1998-2004), Principal Conductor of London Sinfonietta (1994–1998), and Artistic Director of the Montepulciano Festival (1989–1995).
Stenz made his opera debut in 1988 at La Fenice in Venice in the first performance of Henze’s revised version of Elegy for Young Lovers. Since then, he has appeared at many of the world’s major opera houses and international festivals including Teatro alla Scala Milan, La Monnaie in Brussels, English National Opera, San Francisco Opera, Stuttgart Opera, Frankfurt Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, and Edinburgh International Festival. His notable performances in Cologne have included Wagner’s Ring, Lohengrin, Tannhäuser, and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, as well as Janáček’s Jenufa and Katya Kabanova, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and Eötvös’s Love and other Demons.
Stenz has conducted many world premieres including Henze’s Das verratene Meer for Deutsche Oper Berlin, Venus und Adonis for Bavarian State Opera, and L’Upupa und der Triumph der Sohnesliebe at the Salzburg Festival, Wolfgang Rihm’s Die Eroberung von Mexico and Detlev Glanert’s Caligula for Frankfurt Opera and Solaris at the Bregenz Festival. He recently returned to Bayerische Staatsoper Munich for Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten and, in the 2018/19 season, conducted the long-awaited world première of Kurtag’s Fin de Partie at La Scala, Milan, and Dutch National Opera.
Guest engagements have led him to major orchestras worldwide, including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, NHK, Symphony Orchestra of the Bayerische Rundfunk, Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig, London Philharmonic, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, Vienna Symphony, and the Symphony Orchestras of the Hessische Rundfunk, and NDR. In the United States, these have included the Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, San Diego, St Louis Symphony Orchestras, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, and recently his debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony.
Highlights of the 2020-2021 season included the CD release of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony with Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, performances of Kurtág’s Fin de Partie at Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, and concerts with MDR Sinfonieorchester and Dortmunder Philharmoniker. Despite the pandemic, Stenz has conducted numerous concerts in Asia, including Seoul and Taiwan, and was guest conductor at Teatro La Fenice in Venice.
In 2021-2022 Stenz conducts Britten‘s Midsummer Night’s Dream at Deutsche Oper Berlin and the French premiere of Kurtág‘s opera Fin de Partie at Opéra National de Paris. Other guest conducting engagements include performances with the Pacific, Colorado, and Jacksonville Symphony Orchestras, as well as Orchestra dell’Academia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Orchestre National de Lyon, Orchestra della Toscana in Florence, and others.
During his time with the Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, Stenz received a prize for “The Best Concert Programme of the 2003-2004 Season” as well as initiating a number of youth and educational projects such as “Experiment Klassikz,” “3. Akt,” and the concert live-recording project “GO live.”
Stenz’s extensive discography includes many prize-winning recordings including the Gürzenich Orchestra’s complete cycle of Gustav Mahler's symphonies for Oehms Classics. Their recording of Mahler's Fifth Symphony received a German Record Critics’ Award in November 2009. Their first recording for Hyperion of Strauss’s Don Quixote and Till Eulenspiegel received unanimous critical acclaim and was followed by an equally celebrated recording of Schönberg’s Gurrelieder released in 2015, which received the Choral Award at the 2016 Gramophone Awards.
Stenz studied at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne under Volker Wangenheim and at Tanglewood with Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa. He has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Northern College of Music and the “Silberne Stimmgabel” (Silver Tuning Fork) of the state of North Rhein/Westphalia.