Thierry Fischer, Principal Flute

“When I think back on my years at the COE what still feels very tangible from that time is that of total freedom.

Paul Valéry wrote, “Que de choses il faut ignorer pour agir! – How many things must be ignored in order to act!” All of us players were young so we were free of caring about impossibilities. And this freedom created a sense of intrepidity. Musically there was nothing we thought we couldn’t do so we went ahead and did it – under the guidance of genius conductors like Claudio Abbado and Nikolaus Harnoncourt who challenged us in the best possible ways.

When I started playing with the COE in the late 80s it opened my eyes: This is how a group of musicians should interact, provoke, challenge each other. I felt I played better because the surroundings were corresponding to my aspirations. The time with COE, the hundreds and hundreds of concerts I played with this group, is something that I will not only never forget, it is an experience I will carry with me forever.”


Thierry Fischer has been Music Director of the São Paulo Symphony since January 2020 and of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León since September 2022. He is also Music Director Emeritus of the Utah Symphony (where he was Music Director 2009-2023).

Fischer has conducted orchestras across the globe, notably the Cleveland Orchestra, the Boston, Atlanta and Cincinnati Symphonies, London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Maggio Musicale Firenze among others. He has performed and commissioned many world premieres, and works with the London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Intercontemporain but also other leading chamber orchestras such as the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Swedish Chamber.

April 2024 sees the launch of Frank Martin: Odyssey, of which Fischer is Artistic Director. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of his compatriot’s death, Fischer has curated a series of concerts running through to the end of 2026 in which every note of Martin’s oeuvre will be performed in Geneva.

Fischer began his 23/24 season by touring the Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León to the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and the Stavanger Konserthus, to sold-out halls and a rapturous reception. He begins a Beethoven cycle with the orchestra this season, and together they will appear at the Teatro Monumental in Madrid. In Sao Paulo he has just begun a Mahler symphony cycle, recorded in the studio with the latest audio technology for the orchestra’s own label, and Beethoven plans will include reconstruction of the famous 1808 concert in Vienna, when several of Beethoven’s most revered works were premiered. To celebrate OSESP’s 70th anniversary in 2024 Fischer will embark upon a world tour with the orchestra next Summer.

Concluding a transformative 14 years in Utah – including the orchestra’s first visit to Carnegie Hall for the first time in 40 years, a Saint-Saëns cycle on Hyperion and many other highlights – Fischer released on Hyperion in 2023 Messiaen’s Des Canyons aux Étoiles (directly inspired by the awe-inspiring landscape of Utah State). Amongst many accolades the disc was shortlisted for the 2023 Gramophone Awards (orchestral category).

Whilst Principal Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales 2006-2012, Fischer appeared every year at the BBC Proms, toured internationally, and recorded for Hyperion, Signum and Orfeo. In 2012 he won the ICMA Award for his Hyperion recording of Frank Martin’s Der Sturm with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus. His discography also includes a Beethoven disc with the London Philharmonic on the Aparté label.

Fischer started out as Principal Flute in Hamburg and at the Zurich Opera. His conducting career began in his 30s when he replaced an ailing colleague, subsequently directing his first few concerts with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe where he was Principal Flute under Claudio Abbado. He spent his apprentice years in Holland and became Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Ulster Orchestra 2001-2006. He was Principal Guest of the Seoul Philharmonic 2017-2020 and Chief Conductor (now Honorary Guest) of the Nagoya Philharmonic 2008-2011.

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