John Storgårds
© Marco BorggreveArtist

„Storgårds secures as compelling a rendering of 'The Bard' as I can ever recall.“

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Chief Guest Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra Ottawa and Artistic Partner of the Münchener Kammerorchester,John Storgårds has a dual career as a conductor and violin virtuoso and is widely recognised for his creative flair for programming. He additionally holds the title of Artistic Director of the Chamber Orchestra of Lapland.

Storgårds appears with such orchestras as WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, Bamberger Symphoniker, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre National de France, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI, BBC Symphony Orchestra as well as all the major Nordic orchestras including Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra where he was Chief Conductor 2008-2015. Further afield, he appears with the Sydney, Melbourne and NHK Symphonies as well as the Boston, St Louis, Toronto and Vancouver Symphony Orchestras, the Cleveland Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. Soloists with whom he collaborates include Yefim Bronfman, Sol Gabetta, Håkan Hardenberger, Kari Kriikku, Gil Shaham, Baiba Skride, Christian Tetzlaff, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Frank Peter Zimmermann.


Storgårds’s vast repertoire includes all symphonies by Sibelius, Nielsen, Bruckner, Brahms, Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann. He gave a historical cycle of all 54 symphonies by Mozart (including the unnumbered works) and conducted Finnish premieres of Schumann’s only opera ‘Genoveva’, his early ‘Zwickau’ symphony, plus world premieres of Sibelius’ Suite op. 117 for violin and strings and the Late Fragments. As a violinist, Storgårds gave the Finnish premiere of Schumann’s own violin version of the cello concerto and his Violin Sonata No 3. Storgårds regularly performs world premieres of works by contemporary composers such as Kaija Saariaho, Brett Dean, Per Nørgård and Pēteris Vasks. Many of these composers have dedicated their works to him. In opera he conducted the Finnish premiere of Haydn’s Orlando Paladino at the Finnish National Opera, a production which remains one of the most successful in Finland. He conducted major titles by Strauss, Verdi and most Mozart operas. Recently he led a new production by Paul-Emile Fourny of Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Savonlinna Opera Festival.

Highlights of his 2017/18 season include Storgårds’ return to the BBC Proms with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. He will give debut appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien at Vienna’s prestigious Musikverein and with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal Festival Hall. Following their recent touring success, Storgårds is taking the Chamber Orchestra of Lapland on tour to Ottawa. In opera Storgårds will give the world premiere of Sebastian Fagerlund’s new opera Höstsonaten – Autumn Sonata at the Finnish National Opera with Anne Sofie von Otter in the leading role of Charlotte.

Storgårds’ award winning discography includes recordings of works by Schumann, Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn but also rarities by Holmboe and Vasks’ featuring him as soloist. Two cycles of symphonies by Sibelius (2014) and Nielsen (2015) with the BBC Philharmonic were released to critical acclaim by Chandos. Their latest recording, released earlier this year, includes works by American avant-garde composer George Antheil. Other successes include discs of works by Nørgård, Korngold and Rautavaara, the latter receiving a Grammy nomination and a Gramophone Award in 2012. Storgårds’s recording with the Chamber Orchestra of Lapland of concertos for theremin and horn by Kalevi Aho received the distinguished ECHO Klassik award in 2015.  

Storgårds studied violin with Chaim Taub and subsequently became concert master of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Esa-Pekka Salonen, before studying conducting with Jorma Panula and Eri Klas. He received the Finnish State Prize for Music in 2002 and the Pro Finlandia Prize 2012.

SEASON 2017/2018


“For me, Mr. Storgårds delivered a Tchaikovsky Fourth against which all others must be measured, with the high drama of the music accentuated by the conductor's magisterial podium presence and big, dramatic, full upper-body gestures.”

KDHX, Chuck Lavazzi, 14.11.2017

“For the second half, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 in F minor received a stirring, powerful rendition, one of the best I’ve heard. Storgårds led with a sure hand, and the players were with him every for every measure. […] Storgårds and the orchestra gave it a practically flawless performance. […] The first movement was powerful, the second lyrical and flowing. Storgårds made the big fourth movement even bigger than the first; marked “allegro fuoco,” it was very fast and completely ablaze for a breathtaking conclusion to a superb performance.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sarah Bryan Miller, 10.11.2017

“Storgårds and the BBCSO brought ebullient, shimmering energy to D’un matin de printemps, and sustained the inner tension under washes of sound in D’un soir triste. For complete contrast, the programme switched in its second half to the Austro-German tradition. No composer is more steeped in that than Mahler, but this performance was striking for the way in which Storgårds articulated that. His account of the Fourth Symphony opened with unusual lightness and clarity of texture, showing the music’s classical roots. Storgårds was also clear-sighted about where the music was heading, so he never held back when it came to the expressionistic outbursts – here the textures were raw and exposed – and he never shirked the emotional depths of the middle movements.”

The Telegraph, John Allison, 04.11.2017

“On Aug. 14, John Storgårds, the principal guest conductor of the BBC Philharmonic, did double duty as soloist and conductor in Weill’s Concerto for Violin and Wind Orchestra. (…) one could only admire how he dispatched his dazzling part, nowhere more than in his extended cadenza. (…) It is a tough nut of a piece, but Storgårds underscored its winning dynamism and even found lyrical contours lurking in its pages.”

Santa Fe New Mexican, James M. Keller, 25.08.2017

“John Storgårds revels in their idiosyncrasies, revealing a wealth of expressive detail I'd never heard before.”

Gramophone, Andrew Farach-Colton, 06.2017

“He is a lavishly gifted, fiercely intelligent, intensely communicative musician, and of the finest interpreters of Scandinavian and Nordic repertoire anywhere in the world. […] his Sibelius Symphony No. 6 was sublime, astonishing, masterful: by far the best performance of this composer I’ve yet heard from NACO. […] Storgårds’ impeccable instinct for structure and propulsion gave the work sculptural dynamism and unshakeable mass. Tension, delicacy, ascetic fury were all carved in vivid bas-relief. The orchestra’s sound was deliciously dark and frosty.”

Tales From The Red Chair, Natasha Gauthier, 03.02.2017

“Storgårds’ view was masterful, starting with his explosive attack on the opening notes. An animated presence, he controlled the work’s epic, powerful sweep with thrilling momentum, while illuminating its stunning atmospheres along the way.”, Janelle Gelfand, 28.01.2017

“New music of a very, very high quality in a thrilling performance - and we have Storgårds to thank for both.”

Gramophone, Andrew Mellor, 01.2017

“Think of a mirror that you pass by every day in a room or hallway. Your reflection looks perfectly fine. But one day you bring along some cleaning spray and give the mirror a wipe, only to be taken aback by the newfound clarity and depth of the image reflected back at you. Storgårds took that proverbial bottle of Windex to Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, which dates from 1888. The results were breathtaking, mainly because of the honesty and forthrightness with which Storgårds addressed its unabashed Romanticism.”

Musical Toronto, John Terauds, 08.12.2016

“Storgards’s dynamic control here and in Nielsen’s Symphony No 5 was stunning.”

The Times, Anna Picard, 03.08.2016

“Astonishingly good performance - Storgårds is a tonic for the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. He raises the bar for them, and they respond.”

Classical Iconoclast, Doundou Tchil, 02.08.2016

“John Storgårds conducted the BBC Philharmonic on that journey through music expressed with an increasing physical immediacy, culminating in the graphic and almost tangible battle between the abstract forces of good and evil depicted within Carl Nielsen’s Fifth Symphony.”

Classical Source, Curtis Rogers, 01.08.2016

“The ensemble, deftly guided by Storgards, responded with admirable sensitivity and, in the kinetic dance-like passages, great snap.”

The Baltimore Sun, Tim Smith, 21.05.2016

“Mr. Storgards brought exceptional transparency and crisp articulation to Mahler’s colorful orchestral music. [...] Mr. Storgards emphasized the discontinuities and jarring turns of the music, as well as the piercing shards of dissonance that Sibelius folds into his deceptively sonorous harmonic language. Yet there was no sense of manipulation about the interpretation. Nothing was oversold or pumped up. The Philharmonic sounded sensational. During the standing ovation, the players clapped along with the audience every time Mr. Storgards took a bow.”

New York Times, Anthony Tommasini, 13.05.2016

“Storgårds picked apart the composer’s multi-layered musical lines brilliantly, and never let up in a hugely moving Romanze slow movement.”

The Telegraph, David Kettle, 28.02.2016

“There are few conductors around who are more riveting and involving in performance than Storgårds, [...] who gave an incredibly detailed account of the orchestral score, bringing wonderful variety to the string textures, an overarching beauty to the winds (especially at the end of the Canzonetta), and great Slavic fervour and anticipation to the dramatic, driving moments. The brass had remarkable ‘bite’. With this conducting, it seemed that a sense of musical space and natural motion just opened out as the work progressed – and the interaction and timing of soloist and conductor were impeccable.”

Vancouver Classical Music, Geoffrey Newman, 16.01.2016

“Storgards presents Beethoven like the raging revolutionary he was. His conducting is valiant, fierce, and passionate, with Beethovenian bursts of violence.”

Ottawa Citizen, Natasha Gauthier, 06.01.2016

Go back


Lars KarlssonSeven Songs Clarinet Concerto Gabriel Suovanen, baritone, Christoffer Sundqvist, clarinet, Lapland Chamber OrchestraJan. 2018, BIS Records, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Kalevi AhoConcerto for Soprano Saxophone - Quintet for Winds and Piano - Solo I; Anders Paulsson, soprano saxophone; Jaakko Kuusisto, violin; Lapland Chamber OrchestraOct. 2017, BIS Records, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
John Storgårds conducts Dean & FrancesconiBrett Dean: Dramatis personae, Luca Francesconi: Hard PaceMay. 2017, BIS Records, CD
Georg AntheilJohn Storgårds conducts pieces of George AntheilMay. 2017, Chandos, CD, Available on: Amazon
Bent Sørensen - MignonLapland Chamber Orchestra, Katrine Gislinge, John Storgårds, conductor & violinNov. 2016, Cacapo, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Per Nørgård Symphonies 4 & 5Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, John StorgårdsMay. 2016, Dacapo, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
RautavaaraRubáiyát, Balada, Canto V Four Songs from RasputinMay. 2016, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Sunleif Rasmussen Symphony No.2'THE EARTH ANEW'May. 2016, Dacapo, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Per Nørgård Symphonies 2 & 6Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, John StorgårdsApr. 2016, Dacapo, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Dvořák - SukJosef Suk Fantasy in G minor, Antonin Dvořák Violin Concerto in A Minor, Romance, Op. 11Mar. 2016, Ondine ODE 1279-5, CD, Available on: iTunes AmazonSpotify
Berlioz, Chausson, DuparcSoile Isokoski, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and John Storgårds performing orchestral songs by Chausson, Berlioz and DuparcJul. 2015, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Nielsen: Complete SymphoniesJohn Storgårds and the BBC Philharmonic present a complete set of Carl Nielsen's symphonies.Jun. 2015, Chandos, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Wallin: ManyworldsThis CD and Pure audio Blu-ray release includes three orchestral works by Rolf Wallin performed by John Storgårds, Håkan Hardenberger and the Bergen Symphony Orchestra.May. 2015, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Zemlinsky: Seejungfrau / SinfoniettaThe Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra under John Storgårds offer a fascinating program of two major orchestral works by Alexander Zemlinsky (18711942), arr. by Roland Freisitzer, as ...Mar. 2015, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Shostakovich Violin Concertos 1&2Christian Tetzlaff with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and John StorgårdsSep. 2014, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Sibelius: Complete SymphoniesJohn Storgårds, Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic, presents his first recording on Chandos, a complete symphonic cycle of his nation's greatest musical export, Jean ...Mar. 2014, Chandos, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Robert Schumann Violinkonzerte • PhantasieThis CD of Baiba Skride, John Storgårds and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra features works by Schumann, including the renowned Violin Concerto.Jul. 2013, Orfeo, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Leevi MadetojaThis new release of works by Finnish composer Leevi Madetoja features his Symphony No. 2 as well as the symphonic poem Kullervo and Elegy.Jan. 2013, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Korngold: Much Ado About NothingThis release of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Much Ado About Nothing and Sinfonietta follows Ondine's release of the Symphony in F sharp and the Tänzchen im alten Stil.Nov. 2012, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Chamber SymphoniesJohn Storgårds with Chamber Symphony Nos. 1, 2 & 3 by Vagn Holmboe and the Lapland Chamber OrchestraJun. 2012, Dacapo, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
RautavaaraWorks by Einojuhani Rautavaara: Cello Concerto No. 2, Modificata & Percussion Concerto "Incantations"Feb. 2012, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
KorngoldJohn Storgårds with works by Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Symphony in f sharp major Op.40 and Tänzchen im alten StilMar. 2011, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Sibelius: Violin ConcertoWith Frank Peter Zimmermann and works by Sibelius: Violin Concerto in d minor op.47, The Bard op.64 & The Wood Nymph op.15Aug. 2010, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Peteris VasksWorks by Peteris Vasks (Symphony No. 3 & Cello concerto) with the Tampere Philharmonic OrchestraNov. 2006, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon