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With charisma and temperament

Focus Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla

Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla attracted international attention in 2016 with her great success as chief conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Since then, the versatile Lithuanian has been a guest in the world’s most important concert halls. In 2024/25, she is the artist in focus at the Musikverein and makes her debut as a concert conductor with the Vienna Philharmonic.

© Deutsche Grammophon - Andreas Hechenberger

It was a matter of opportunity that she decided to become a conductor. Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla grew up in a family of musicians: her grandmother was a violinist, her father an influential choral conductor and her mother a pianist. But as is sometimes the case in musical families, she hadn’t learned to play any instrument well enough; only singing was a natural expression. When she went to Graz to study, she therefore first studied choral conducting – with none other than Johannes Prinz, the choir director of the Singverein der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, who used to teach choir and orchestra conductors together in his first-year class at the Graz University of the Arts. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in choir with him before switching to orchestral conducting. She then completed studies at the conservatory in Bologna, the Leipzig University of Music and the Zurich University of the Arts. In 2010, she made her opera debut with “La Traviata” in Osnabrück and became Kapellmeister at Theater Heidelberg and Konzert Theater Bern.

© Frans Jansen

Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla already attracted international attention in 2012 when she was honoured with the Young Conductors Award at the Salzburg Festival. This was followed by a Dudamel Fellowship with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where she was appointed Assistant Conductor and subsequently Associate Conductor. She had thus taken the decisive step into the symphonic repertoire. As Chief Conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, she explored it extensively from 2016 to 2022. A delicate young woman in this position, following in the footsteps of Sir Simon Rattle and Andris Nelsons, caused quite a stir. Charismatic and spirited as she is, Mirga – as she is known everywhere – was celebrated as the “Star of Birmingham”; she is still associated with the CBSO today as Principal Guest Conductor. In the meantime, she has also worked successfully with many other top orchestras; she will conduct her first opera premiere with the Vienna Philharmonic at the 2024 Salzburg Festival.

Regardless of the repertoire, the human voice remains the basis of their music-making. “Everything comes from singing,” she says; “being able to breathe along helps with all music.” From 2015 to 2017, she also had a lasting impact as music director of the Salzburg State Theater. This period was also decisive for her in her private life, as she found her life partner in Salzburg, and the city became the centre of her life. Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla is an internationally successful conductor and the mother of three children. With this probably unique constellation, she has boldly and confidently broken the unwritten rules of the classical music business. The fact that she was not prepared to give her career absolute priority, that she courageously modified her commitments because her priorities demanded it, made people sit up and take notice. It didn’t do her any harm. On the contrary.

As the Musikverein’s Focus Artist, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla conducts a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic for the first time and brings two orchestras to the Musikverein with whom she has established a fruitful collaboration in recent years: with the Munich Philharmonic and a Schumann-Bartók program, in which violinist Vilde Frang is the soloist in the Schumann concerto, and for two concerts with the Orchestre Symphonique de Radio France. French music forms a harmonious bracket here: from Lili Boulanger’s “D’un matin de Printemps” to the Fauré Requiem, where Mirga meets and hears Johannes Prinz and the Vienna Singverein again.

Monika Mertl

Concerts 24/25

September 6, 2023

06

Großer Saal

September 6, 2023

05

Großer Saal

September 5, 2023

04

Großer Saal

    Arnold Schönberg Center, Vienna

    Colossal sounds

    © Julia Wesely

    Strong relationships

    © Julia Wesely

    Simply conduct

    Archive, Library and Collections of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna

    Fine and fragrant

    © Felix Broede

    Suction effect

    © Brand photography

    Conducting on the royal road

    © Deutsche Grammophon - Andreas Hechenberger

    With charisma and temperament