Hugh Wolff

Permanent Guest conductors
Guest Conductors

Hugh Wolff is among the leading conductors of his generation.  He has appeared with all the major American orchestras including those of Chicago, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Cleveland.  Wolff is much in demand in Europe, where he has conducted the London Symphony, the Philharmonia, the Orchestre National de France, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Czech Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, Bavarian and Berlin Radio Orchestras, and is a regular guest conductor with orchestras in Canada, Japan, Korea, Scandinavia and Australia. He is also a frequent conductor at summer music festivals.

Music Director of the Belgian National Orchestra, Wolff was principal conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra (1997-2006).  Together they toured Europe, Japan and China and appeared at the Salzburg Festival.  Wolff was principal conductor and then music director of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (1988-2000), with whom he recorded twenty discs and toured the United States, Europe, Japan and the Far East.  Of this partnership, the New York Times wrote: “the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Hugh Wolff, has developed an effortlessly polished sound ... Wolff shapes his interpretations with impeccable taste.” 

A conductor whose interests span baroque performance practice to the championing of new works, Wolff was music director of the New Jersey Symphony (1986-1993) and Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival (1994-1997). He began his professional career in 1979 as associate conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra under Mstislav Rostropovich.

Wolff has an extensive discography including a complete set of Beethoven symphonies with the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra, music from the baroque to the present with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and new works of John Corigliano, Brett Dean, John Harbison, Aaron Jay Kernis and Mark-Anthony Turnage. He has collaborated on CD with Msitislav Rostropovich, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn, Edgar Meyer, Dawn Upshaw, Jennifer Larmore, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and jazz guitarist John Scofield. Three times nominated for a Grammy Award, Wolff won the 2001 Cannes Classical Award.

Born in Paris to American parents, Wolff spent his early years in London and Washington DC.  His final year in high school, he studied piano with Leon Fleisher and composition with George Crumb.  After graduating from Harvard College in 1975, Wolff won a fellowship to study conducting with Charles Bruck and composition with Olivier Messiaen in Paris. He returned to the United States to continue piano studies with Fleisher at the Peabody Institute.  Throughout his career, Wolff has performed as a pianist in chamber music with orchestral colleagues and guest soloists.

In addition to his performing career, Wolff holds the Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood Director of Orchestras chair at New England Conservatory.

Wolff and his wife, Judith Kogan, have three sons.

Upcoming concerts

Fri 16.06.23 20:00

Baiba Skride & Mozart - Lutosławski

The American jazz pianist and composer Anthony Davis has written many engaging operas, including one about the African American civil rights activist Malcolm X and about the Central Park jogger case, a court case in which black and Latino youths were convicted of a rape they did not commit.

Fri 25.02.22 20:00

Shostakovich Festival - Lucas Debargue

Shostakovich’s Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings is a particularly cheerful and humorous composition, written in 1933 when the composer was 27 years old and had not yet clashed with the Soviet regime.

Fri 10.06.22 20:30
Sat 11.06.22 20:00

Víkingur Ólafsson & Mozart 23 / Bartók Concerto for Orchestra

Thomas Adès composed In 2010 a 15-minute-long piece entitled Polaris: Voyage for Orchestra. In the same way that all the other stars appear to rotate around the Pole Star, Thomas Adès has all the instruments rotate around the same melody, introduced one by one from high to low.

Thu 19.05.22 20:00
Fri 20.05.22 20:00
Sun 22.05.22 19:00
Mon 23.05.22 20:00

Martin Grubinger & Dorman/ Rachmaninoff

Austrian Martin Grubinger is one of the most famous percussionists in the world. Many classical composers have composed for him.

Sun 08.05.22 15:00

Timothy Chooi & Prokofiev 1/ Debussy

In her composition Laterna Magica, the celebrated Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho plays with various tempos, each exposing different parameters. Fast tempos emphasise rhythmic continuity, while slow tempos focus the attention on specific timbres.

Thu 31.03.22 20:15
Fri 01.04.22 20:00

Véronique Gens & Mahler Rückert-Lieder

Mozart composed his Symphony No. 34 at the age of 24 in Salzburg. It would be the last symphony he would compose on commission of the Salzburg archbishops. Afterwards, he established himself as an independent artist in Vienna. Symphony No.

Fri 11.06.21 20:30

Lore Binon & Mahler 4

Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 starts with a strong rhythmic motif played on sleigh bells mounted on a stick. Though the stick is shaken in a slow and thoughtful manner in the first section, the same instrument is deployed aggressively in the fourth and final movement.

Fri 07.01.22 20:00
Sat 08.01.22 20:00
Sun 09.01.22 15:00

Cancelled - A Jazzy New year


Sun 05.12.21 15:00

Brannon Cho & Prokofiev


Fri 22.10.21 20:00
Sat 23.10.21 19:00
Sun 24.10.21 15:00

Mahler Das Lied von der Erde


Fri 10.09.21 20:00

Sergey Khachatryan & Max Bruch / Brahms 2


Mon 16.11.20 20:30

Cancelled - Florian Noack & Beethoven

Between Mozart and Rossini

Fri 11.06.21 18:30

Christian Tetzlaff & Beethoven

A sky full of violins

Mon 24.05.21 20:00
Tue 25.05.21 20:00
Wed 26.05.21 20:00
Thu 27.05.21 20:00
Fri 28.05.21 20:00
Sat 29.05.21 20:00

Queen Elisabeth Competition - Piano


The competition, named after the queen who had a (very) big heart for the arts, has since its creation in the 1930s become one of the most prestigious references for up-and-coming musical talent.

Mon 29.03.21 20:00

Karthaüser & Mozart / Dvořák 6

The Belgian soprano Sophie Karthäuser hardly needs an introduction: for over twenty years, she’s been renowned as one of the most sublime interpreters of Mozart in the European opera and concert world.

Mon 15.02.21 13:00
Mon 22.02.21 20:00

Richard Egarr & Mozart/Schumann 2

“Dark, tragic and passionate,” is how the musicologist Alfred Einstein described Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24. Composed in C minor, this piece in three parts stands out for its highly-developed chromaticism, Bach-inspired polyphony and intensely dramatic character.

Tue 07.05.19 20:45

Hugh Wolff & Bertrand Chamayou

Mon 06.05.19 20:00

Hugh Wolff & Sunwook Kim

Sat 04.05.19 19:30

Hugh Wolff & Ivan Krpan

Sat 29.12.18 20:00

Hugh Wolff & Mayumi Kanagawa

Organised by Burghofspiele GMBH

Mon 20.05.19 20:00
Tue 21.05.19 20:00
Wed 22.05.19 20:00
Thu 23.05.19 20:00
Fri 24.05.19 20:00
Sat 25.05.19 20:00

Queen Elisabeth Competition 2019 - Final violin

Fri 28.06.19 20:00

Hugh Wolff

The Ring of Lust

Fri 26.04.19 20:00
Sun 28.04.19 15:00

Hugh Wolff & Elisabeth Kulman (mezzo-soprano)

Re: Beethoven - Pride and Persistence (in response to Beethoven's Seventh Symphony)

Fri 25.01.19 20:00
Sun 27.01.19 15:00

Hugh Wolff, Hendrickje van Kerckhove (soprano) & Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt (narrateur)

Re: Beethoven - Oppression and Resistance (in response to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, "The Victory Symphony")

Thu 08.11.18 20:00
Fri 09.11.18 20:00
Sat 10.11.18 20:00
Sun 11.11.18 15:00

Hugh Wolff, Sophie Karthäuser (soprano), Thomas Bauer (baryton) & Collegium Vocale Gent

The Finale to End All Finales

Fri 14.09.18 20:00

Hugh Wolff & Augustin Hadelich (violin)

Forbidden loves

Fri 15.09.17 20:00

Hugh Wolff & Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano), Olivier Latry (organ)

The inauguration of BOZAR's monumental organ will be backed up with special guests and an outstanding bill of fare! The Belgian National Orchestra is performing for the first time this season in its new format and conducted by its new musical director, the American Hugh Wolff.

Wed 25.07.18 20:00

Hugh Wolff & Nicolas Angelich (piano)

Fri 08.06.18 20:00
Sun 10.06.18 15:00

Hugh Wolff & Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello)

The French cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras has to draw on all his technical prowess in Prokofiev's  Sinfonia concertante, one of the most difficult concertos for this instrument.

Fri 08.12.17 20:00


Hugh Wolff presents two perennial works from the modern repertoire.   Ligeti’s dreamy Lontano was used in the bloodcurdling thriller Shutter Island while in the fierce yet ironic Ninth Symphony, the last of his works to be fully completed, Mahler seems to be issuing a challenge in the f

Fri 20.10.17 20:00
Sun 22.10.17 15:00

Hugh Wolff & Frank Peter Zimmerman (violin)

Frank Peter Zimmermann displays his talents in a rendition of Beethoven's everlasting Violin concerto. Preceded and followed by ballet music.

Sat 14.10.17 19:00

Hugh Wolff & Kim Taehyung (piano), Kim Bomsori (violin)

In collaboration with the Korean Cultural Centre 

kcc logo

Fri 13.10.17 20:00

Hugh Wolff & Martin Helmchen (piano)

Sun 17.09.17 15:00

Hugh Wolff & Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano)

The versatility of Hugh Wolff, the new musical director of the Belgian National Orchestra, is already apparent from his wide choice of repertoire. Today he has programmed the classical-romantic (Beethoven), the avant-garde of the interbellum (Ravel) and contemporary post-minimalism (Adams).