Christoph Eschenbach, born in 1940 in Wroclaw and a war orphan, was raised in Schleswig-Holstein and Aachen by his mother's cousin, the pianist Wallydore Eschenbach. Her lessons laid the foundation of his musical career. Following his studies with Eliza Hansen (piano) and Wilhelm Brückner-Rüggeberg (conducting), he won notable piano awards – such as the ARD Competition Munich 1962 and the Concours Clara Haskil 1965 – that helped to pave the way for his growing international fame.
Supported by mentors such as George Szell and Herbert von Karajan, the focus of Christoph Eschenbach’s career increasingly moved to conducting: He was Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Tonhalle Orchestra, Zurich from 1982 to 1986, Musical Director of Houston Symphony from 1988 to 1999, Artistic Director of the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival from 1999 to 2002, Musical Director of the NDR Symphony Orchestra from 1998 to 2004, the Philadelphia Orchestra from 2003 to 2008 and the Orchestre de Paris from 2000 to 2010. From 2010 to 2017, Christoph Eschenbach held the position of Musical Director of the Washington National Symphony Orchestra. From September 2019 he will be the new Musical Director of the Konzerthausorchester, Berlin.
Alongside his prestigious appointments, Christoph Eschenbach has always attached great importance to his extensive activities as a guest conductor, working with orchestras such as the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Staatskapelle Dresden, Scala Milano, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as the NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo.
For many years, Eschenbach's preferred Lied partner has been the baritone Matthias Goerne.
Christoph Eschenbach has been awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, and is a Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres; he is a holder of the German Federal Cross of Merit and a winner of the Leonard Bernstein Award. In 2015, he received the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize for his achievements as conductor and pianist.
Christoph Eschenbach first performed at the Salzburg Easter Festival in 1970 as a pianist and most recently in 2014 both as a conductor and a chamber musician.