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Cleveland Orchestra Music Director Franz Welser-Möst Awarded Gold Medal by Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts

CLEVELAND – On Friday, June 21, Cleveland Orchestra Music Director Franz Welser-Möst will be awarded a Gold Medal in the Arts by the Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts at a ceremony held in Vienna’s Albertina Museum. The gold medal is being given in recognition of Welser-Möst’s long-lasting impact on the international arts community.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to receive this award from the Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts,” said Cleveland Orchestra Music Director Franz Welser-Möst. “I have long had an abiding respect and appreciation for the Kennedy Center’s dedication and commitment to the international arts community. Because I was born and raised in Austria, I am especially proud to participate in this presentation in Vienna, where many of my formative and enduring music moments occurred — and where I value the significant collaborations I’ve had over many years at the Musikverein with the Vienna Philharmonic and The Cleveland Orchestra.”

“Over the course of his impressive career, Franz Welser-Möst has served as a transformative music director, inspirational leader, progressive educator, and visionary creative spirit,” said Cleveland Orchestra President & CEO André Gremillet. “His innovative perspective and tireless dedication to the arts community, both in Cleveland and abroad, have shown us what’s possible through the extraordinary power and passion of music. As Franz continues to create magnificent performances at the highest level of excellence, The Cleveland Orchestra is proud to acknowledge this remarkable and deserving achievement. We are also grateful to the Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts for recognizing Franz’s past and current contributions to the worldwide community of artists and musicians.”

This year, recipients are honored at two Kennedy Center Gold Medal in the Arts ceremonies; the first took place on June 18 in Budapest at the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence, and the second will be held on June 21 in Vienna at The Albertina Museum. In addition to Welser-Möst, the 2019 award recipients include conductors Ádám Fischer and Iván Fischer, composer and pianist György Kurtág, and soprano Eva Marton from Hungary, as well as composer Iván Eröd, Salzburg Festival President Helga Rabl-Stadler, and award-winning actor Christoph Waltz from Austria.

Among today’s most distinguished conductors, Welser-Möst marked his seventeenth year as music director of The Cleveland Orchestra during the 2018-19 season, with the future of this acclaimed partnership extending into the next decade. The New York Times has declared Cleveland under Welser-Möst’s guidance to be the “best American orchestra” for its virtuosity, elegance of sound, variety of color, and chamber-like musical cohesion. Throughout Welser-Möst’s tenure, The Cleveland Orchestra has also been hugely successful in building up a new and, notably, younger audience in Northeast Ohio with groundbreaking programs involving families, students, universities, and cross-community partnerships. 

For three weeks during the 2018-19 season, Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra toured to China, Taipei, and Macao, performing 11 concerts in seven cities. Also this season, his innovative approach to programming, introducing new music, and re-examining older works included a made-for-Cleveland production by Frederic Wake-Walker of Richard Strauss’s opera Ariadne auf Naxos. As frequent guests at many prestigious concert halls and festivals around the world, Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra continue to make regular appearances in Vienna, New York, and Miami, and at the festivals of Salzburg and Lucerne.

During the 2019-20 season, Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra will maintain their focus on the symphonic works by Prokofiev and Schubert. Additional highlights from the upcoming season include a citywide Cleveland festival centering on Alban Berg’s opera Lulu, a gala concert celebrating the opening-night of New York’s Carnegie Hall, and two world-premieres of originally commissioned works.

As a guest conductor, Welser-Möst enjoys a close and productive relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic. His recent performances with the Philharmonic have included a series of critically-acclaimed opera productions at the Salzburg Festival, (Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier in 2014, Beethoven’s Fidelio in 2015, Strauss’s Die Liebe der Danae in 2016, Reimann’s Lear in 2017, and Strauss’s Salome in 2018), and appearances on tour at Carnegie Hall, at the Lucerne Festival, and in concert at La Scala Milan. He has conducted the Philharmonic’s celebrated New Year’s Day concert twice, and this season led the ensemble in performances at several European festivals, at Versailles, and at Tokyo’s Suntory Hall. From 2010 to 2014, Welser-Möst served as general music director of the Vienna State Opera.

In 2017, Welser-Möst was awarded the Pro Arte Europapreis for his advocacy and achievements as a musical ambassador. Other honors and awards include the Vienna Philharmonic’s “Ring of Honor,” honorary membership in the Vienna Singverein, a Decoration of Honor from the Republic of Austria for his artistic achievements, and the Kilenyi Medal from the Bruckner Society of America. For more information about Franz Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra, please visit

For a high resolution version of the photo above, please see this link Photo Credit: © Roger Mastroianni, Courtesy of The Cleveland Orchestra

About the Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts
This June, the Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts (KCICA) will host its annual International Committee Summit in Budapest and Vienna. The KCICA, which consists of some of the art-world's most passionate and influential philanthropists, is committed to encouraging cultural exchange in the performing arts community and supporting international programming at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Scheduled activities in Hungary and Austria will provide the committee with a chance to discover and experience the vibrant cultures of these two countries, as well as to recognize the contributions that Hungarian and Austrian artists have made to the global cultural landscape. Since 2005, the Gold Medal in the Arts has been awarded to inspiring individuals whose lifetime achievements have created, nurtured, supported, and championed the world's greatest art and artists. Past winners include Pierre Boulez, Judi Dench, Plácido Domingo, and Van Morrison. The Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts was established in 2001 to promote international arts exchange and strengthen the Kennedy Center’s worldwide initiatives.

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