Cornelius Meister
© Nancy HorowitzArtist

„Meister phrased the music with tenderness and old-world geniality ...“

The Washington Post
11 / 23


Cornelius Meister, born in Hannover in 1980, was appointed Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra (RSO) in 2010.

Each season, he directs the orchestra in Vienna’s prestigious Musikverein as well as the Konzerthaus and in tours throughout Asia and Europe (Salzburg Festival, Berlin Philharmonie). Numerous recordings, including works from Haydn and world premieres, document this fruitful connection. All of the concerts are broadcast via radio and internet, some of them on TV.

Cornelius Meister conducts a wide repertoire of concerts and operas, which beside the standard works (e.g. The Ring of the Nibelung, the complete Bruckner symphonies) includes rarely performed pieces (e.g. the complete Martinů symphonies) as well as projects with period instrument orchestras (e.g. The Magic Flute at the Opernhaus Zürich) and numerous world premieres.


Over recent seasons, Cornelius Meister has been guest conductor with major orchestras including Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra and Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra Washington DC, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra New York, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Tokyo, Swedish Radio and Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre de l’Opéra National de Paris and Ensemble Intercontemporain, Orchestra di Santa Cecilia Rom, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester and Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, NDR-Sinfonieorchester Hamburg, Radio-Sinfonieorchester SWR Stuttgart, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and many more.

He has conducted in many major opera houses since the early years of his international career: at the age of just 21, he gave his debut at the Hamburgische Staatsoper, followed by the Bayerische Staatsoper Munich, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Semperoper Dresden, Theater an der Wien, New National Opera Tokyo, San Francisco Opera and Royal Opera House Kopenhagen. Since 2012 he conducts at the Wiener Staatsoper (Mozart, Wagner and Richard Strauss), since 2014 at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden London (Mozart and Puccini), and since 2015 at La Scala Milan (world premiere of an opera by Giorgio Battistelli on the occasion of the world fair). In the 2015/16 season he appears at the Wiener Staatsoper (The Magic Flute, Arabella, Ariadne on Naxos, The Marriage of Figaro), at the Theater an der Wien (Peter Grimes) and the Opernhaus Zürich (Carmen).

Cornelius Meister studied piano and conducting at Hannover University with Konrad Meister, Martin Brauß and Eiji Ōue, as well as at the Salzburg Mozarteum with Dennis Russell Davies, Jorge Rotter and Karl Kamper. From 2005 until 2012, Cornelius Meister held the position of music director of the city of Heidelberg. Already in 2007 he received an award for the “best German concert programme” and since then several prizes for his education projects have followed. As a pianist, he has given concerts in Europe and the USA and play-conducted works by Grieg, Liszt, Gershwin, Beethoven and Mendelssohn.

SEASON 2015/2016


“Aber auch der Dirigent ist ein Glücksfall. Cornelius Meister, der junge wie talentierte Chefdirigent des RSO, trug wesentlich zum Gelingen des umjubelten Abends bei. Er bewältigt mühelos den „Spagat“ zwischen Pathos und ironisch-subtilem Humor, zieht weite, ausladende Bögen und ziseliert dann die Details dieses Werkes, das in den Jahren nach den Wozzeck- und Turandot-Uraufführungen entstand.”

Staatoper Wien, „Arabella“, Der neue Merker, 26.01.2016

“Mr. Meister was most impressive with the orchestra, offering, in addition to the Mozart overture and the Haydn concerto, a compelling performance of Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony.”

New York Times, James R. Oestreich, 06.08.15

“Meister proved himself a master of conducting not just the players but the audience too. He managed to sustain ongoing tension between movements, even in the symphony. Mirabile dictu, the normally clap-happy summertime crowd remained silently, appreciatively attentive until the final cadence. For that alone, he earned his ultimate bravos.”

Financial Times, Martin Bernheimer, 05.08.15

“Bruckners Erste in c-Moll gab dem Radio-Sinfonieorchester Wien unter Cornelius Meister Gelegenheit, wieder seine außerordentlichen Qualitäten zu zeigen: technisch brillant, aber mit ruhiger Kraft. Im noch jungen Cornelius Meister (Jahrgang 1980) reift hörbar ein genuiner Bruckner-Dirigent heran.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Gerhard Rohde, 03.09.2014

“[...] much of the credit goes to the young German conductor Cornelius Meister making his Covent Garden debut. Meister's commitment shines through on every page. He grips the score impressively [….] and he elicits a rewarding evening of incisive playing from the orchestra. [...] He's one to follow.”

The Guardian, Martin Kettle, 10.07.2014

“[Cornelius Meister] led a powerful and emotional reading of the score, sympathetic to the singers’ needs, and at the service of Puccini: this was with-feeling, the emotions acted out on the stage being fed by the sounds from the pit.”

Classical Source, Kevin Rogers, 09.07.2014

“He is a real conductor, working hard to convey a stream of musical ideas, and with a good understanding of how best to elicit them from the players. [...] He conveys clearly what he wants just ahead of time.”

Washington Post, Robert Battey, 18.04.2014

“He knew what he wanted and where to go, and communicated his intentions clearly to the orchestra. In return, the NSO seemed to respond positively and with great joy, to his conducting.”

Communities Digital News, Terry Ponick, 18.04.2014

“Dieser Dirigent geht sorgsam mit der Musik um, er behütet sie, damit ihr Schatz funkeln darf und nicht durch plakative Behandlung zerstört würde.”

Mannheimer Morgen, Eckhard Britsch, 22.11.2013

“Wenn Cornelius Meister nach der Pause dann Brahms 2. Sinfonie dirigiert, mit expressiver aber nie exaltierter Gestik, sieht man einem Dirigenten zu, der ein Werk, das er wirklich liebt, einfach nur zu seinem eigenem Vergnügen genießen will. Was es dem Publikum leicht macht, es ihm gleich zu tun.”

Tagesspiegel, Frederik Hanssen, 24.09.2013

“Und Maestro Cornelius Meister war seinen Sängern an diesem Abend ein vollendeter Begleiter, dessen Anweisungen das gesamte Ensemble und das Orchester der Lettischen Nationaloper hörbar bereitwillig folgten.”

(über Wagner „Siegfried“), Online Merker, Harald Lacina, 07.06.2013

“Was gestern im goldglänzenden Großen Saal des Wiener Musikvereins zu Gehör kam, war von Anfang bis Ende hoch expressive Musik.”

Deutschlandradio, Sendung Kultur Heute, 06.04.2013, 17:30 Uhr

“In masterful fashion, the conductor ensured that each episode of this wild and crazy musical tale communicated vividly, while maintaining the firmness of the score's structure. The orchestra sounded terrific, whether adding fire to a crescendo or laying on subtle atmospheric coloring; brass and woodwind soloists made sizzling contributions.”

The Baltimore Sun, 27.10.2012

“Zuletzt Arnold Schönbergs Tondichtung „Pelleas und Melisande“ op. 5: Nicht nur hier begeisterte Chefdirigent Cornelius Meister mit seiner suggestiven gestalterischen Kraft, seiner Kunst der zwingend aufgebauten Steigerung und Höhepunkte. Neben berühmteren Namen zählt auch er zur imponierenden Riege junger exzellenter Dirigenten unserer Zeit.”

Wiener Zeitung, Gerhard Kramer, 10.05.12

“Am Pult der Sächsischen Staatskapelle gibt Cornelius Meister sein Debüt. Ein grandioser Einstand [Berg’s Lulu].”

Dresdner Neue Nachrichten, 5.02.12

“Drawing silken sound from the strings and burnished playing from the brass, Meister phrased the music [Brahms’ Second Symphony] with tenderness and old-world geniality, paying equal attention to the smallest moments and the longer musical paragraphs, and building to an exuberant crescendo to finish an uncommonly fine reading.”

The Washington Post, Joe Banno, 2.05.11

Go back


Anton Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 "Romantic"Cornelius Meister conducts the RSO Vienna.Feb. 2013, Capriccio, CD, Available on: Amazon
Béla Bartok: Kossuth, Concerto for OrchestraCornelius Meister conducts the RSO Wien.Jan. 2013, cpo, CD, Available on: Amazon
my RSONarrated Adventures in Listening with the Vienna RSONov. 2012, ORF, CD
Calexico - Algiers (Limited Deluxe Edition)Calexico with RSO Vienna and Cornelius MeisterSep. 2012, City Slang/ Universal, CD, Available on: Amazon
Gottfried von Einem: Piano ConcertCornelius Meister, RSO Wien, Konstantin Lifschitz with works by Gottfried von EinemJan. 2010, ORFEO, CD, Available on: Amazon