Yannick Nézet-Séguin – Biography

“Yannick Nézet-Séguin ... recently extended his contract with the Philadelphia Orchestra through the 2025–2026 season. And he’s about to take over as music director designate of the Metropolitan Opera. The music world, in short, has crowned [him] with the tacit but heavy responsibility of saving classical music by carrying its major traditional institutions into the future for a next generation.” Washington Post, 25 January 2017

In 2012, Montreal-born Yannick Nézet-Séguin added the Music Directorship of the Philadelphia Orchestra to his roles as Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and long-time Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Orchestre Métropolitain (Montreal), where he has served since 2000. 2017–18 will be his tenth and final season with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and will draw to a close with the orchestra’s centenary celebrations in Rotterdam and around Europe. At the turn of the decade Nézet-Séguin will succeed James Levine as the third Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera, New York. 

Yannick studied piano, conducting, composition, and chamber music at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec in Montreal and choral conducting at the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey before going on to study with renowned conductors, most notably the Italian maestro Carlo Maria Giulini. By the time he made his European debut in 2004 he had already founded his own professional orchestra and vocal ensemble, La Chapelle de Montréal, going on to conduct all the major ensembles in Canada.

In 2008 he was appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, a post he held until 2014. He made his BBC Proms debut the following year with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, returning in 2010 and 2013 with the Rotterdam Philharmonic. In 2013 he was announced as Artist-in-Residence at the Konzerthaus Dortmund for a three-year period.

Nézet-Séguin was also by this time Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra. His inaugural concerts with the orchestra got rave reviews and included his Carnegie Hall debut, conducting the Verdi Requiem. Alongside regular subscription and touring programmes, he leads three Carnegie Hall concerts each season. He has recently extended his commitment to the orchestra for a further decade, to the 2025–26 season, continuing a relationship with his players that has won praise around the world. Highlights of the current season include a tour of China, Mongolia and South Korea, while 2017–18 will see a season-long celebration of the centenary of Leonard Bernstein.

Nézet-Séguin is equally at home on the concert platform and in the opera pit. He made his debut at the Salzburg Festival in 2008 with a new production of Roméo et Juliette, returning to the city for the 2010 Mozartwoche, for Don Giovanni at the 2010 and 2011 summer festivals, for concerts with the Vienna Philharmonic in 2015 and for Haydn’s Die Schöpfung in 2016. He made his debut at the Teatro alla Scala in 2011, has also conducted at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Vienna Staatsoper and Netherlands Opera, and has established a highly successful Mozart opera series at the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus.

Having made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 2009 with an acclaimed production of Carmen, he has returned each subsequent season to lead performances of Don Carlo, Faust, La traviata, Rusalka and Otello. The 2016–17 season sees him take the helm of a revival of Der fliegende Höllander, his first Wagner opera with the company. In June 2016 he was named as the Met’s new Music Director, a position he will take over in full in the 2020–21 season. As of the 2017–18 season he will assume the interim title of Music Director Designate, becoming immediately involved in the Met’s artistic planning.

Outside the US, the current season has already seen Nézet-Séguin conduct Lohengrin at the Vienna Staatsoper; undertake a European tour with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and pianist Hélène Grimaud; and appear at the Salzburg Mozartwoche with the Vienna Philharmonic and Rolando Villazón, and with cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Upcoming highlights include a Ravel/Berlioz/Stravinsky programme with Joyce DiDonato and the Berlin Philharmonic at the Berlin Philharmonie; and concert performances of La clemenza di Tito at Baden-Baden with Villazón and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin began a long-term partnership with Deutsche Grammophon in summer 2012, launching a major new cycle of recordings of Mozart’s seven mature operas recorded at Baden-Baden and all featuring Rolando Villazón in the lead tenor roles. Releases to date are Don Giovanni (“strongly recommended” – BBC Music Magazine), followed by Così fan tutte, (“The superb young conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin draws a dynamic, nuanced and miraculously natural performance” – New York Times), Die Entführung aus dem Serail with Anna Prohaska (“what lifts the recording into the top league is undoubtedly the quality of Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s conducting” – The Daily Telegraph) and the Grammy-nominated Le nozze di Figaro (“Nézet-Séguin demands remarkably virtuosic playing from the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, revealing the inner details of Mozart’s score with unmatched clarity” – Washington Post). Still to come are Idomeneo, La clemenza di Tito and Die Zauberflöte.

Nézet-Séguin’s debut orchestral recordings with Deutsche Grammophon were released in September 2013. In the first he conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra in its first studio album with a major label since a recording with DG in 1997. It featured Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Stokowski transcriptions of music by Bach and Stravinsky. The second recording, with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, offered Tchaikovsky’s heartfelt Pathétique Symphony and selected Romances from opp. 6 & 73, in which he accompanies Lisa Batiashvili at the piano. His Deutsche Grammophon recording of the complete Schumann symphonies with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe was released in 2014, as was Gounod’s Faust with Jonas Kaufmann and the Orchestra & Chorus of The Metropolitan Opera on Decca. August 2015 saw DG’s release of an album of Rachmaninov Variations with pianist Daniil Trifonov and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Nézet-Séguin recently joined forces again with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe to record the complete Mendelssohn symphonies at the Philharmonie de Paris – a 3-CD set scheduled for release in June 2017.

His honours include a prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Award; Canada’s highly coveted National Arts Centre Award; and the Prix Denise-Pelletier, the highest distinction for the arts in Quebec, awarded by the Quebec government. In 2011, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Quebec in Montreal, and in 2012 he was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada. He has also received honorary doctorates from the Curtis Institute of Philadelphia and the Rider University of Princeton. In 2015 he was appointed a Companion of the Arts and Letters of Quebec and Officer of the Quebec National Order. He was named Conductor of the year at the 2014 Echo Klassik awards, and was Musical America’s 2016 Artist of the Year.

3/2017