Conductors of the future: Felix Hornbachner

The young austrian conductor Felix Hornbachner won the 3rd Prize at the Arturo Toscanini Conducting Competition in Parma 2021 and has been invited to conduct the Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orchestra Giovanile Filarmonici Friulani in the upcoming season. In the last season he made his debut with the Wiener Concert-Verein and was directly reinvited to conduct other concerts with them. In 2019, Felix Hornbachner was selected as active participant for the Riccardo Muti Italian Opera Academy Ravenna. Furthermore, he was selected to conduct two Opera productions with the Summer Academy of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (Mozart´s Le nozze Figaro 2017 & La clemenza di Tito 2018), where he accompanied the recitatives on the fortepiano while conducting. Further engagements brought him to work with the Grazer Philharmoniker, Orquesta Sinfónica Cuidad de Elche, Philharmonie Salzburg, Beethoven Philharmonie Baden, Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini and Filarmonica Toscanini. Besides his activity as a conductor, Felix Hornbachner is highly esteemed as a Lied-accompanist, appearing with singers such as Michael Schade, Daniel Johannsen, Wolfgang Bankl, Michael Nowak and Johannes Bamberger. Felix Hornbachner studied conducting in Vienna at the MUK – Musik und Kunst Privatuniversität der Stadt Wien and with Prof. Sophie Rachlin, on recommendation of Maestro Mariss Jansons. 

Dear Felix, thank you for accepting our invitation, it is a real pleasure to have you here as one of our Conductors of the future protagonists! We already know that you studied conducting in Vienna at the “MUK – Musik und Kunst Privatuniversität der Stadt Wien”, but please, tell us more about your musical beginnings. When did you know that music is your destiny? How did it all start?

I grew up in a small village in the Austrian countryside, where my grandfather was an organist and local choirmaster. Very soon as a child I learned playing the organ from him and had my first conducting experience with our church choir. Growing up in this musical surrounding inspired me from the very beginning and gave me a very strong bond to music in my soul. Having had this intense need for music already as a child, I only figured out aged 15 that music is definitely my main purpose in life. Since then I have been learning, studying and giving my whole time and dedication to music only.

When did the spark for conducting appear? Also, what about those who guided your steps on this path?

My first spark for conducting appeared when I was listening to the Bruckner 9 recording with Karajan and the Berlin Phil max volume on my father’s Bose stereo. I remember listening to this recording over and over, feeling strongly attracted by these wonderful orchestral sounds. I always loved the big sound and have been fascinated by the many different nuances, colors and shades of music already as an organist, improvising at the instrument and having “the whole thing” in my hands. Conducting for me is very near to playing the organ, you have many different instruments and different lines in music, which you coordinate and bring together to a grand unity. Very important in the beginning were those who encouraged me and gave me possibilities to conduct, such as my music teacher in school who said one day: “choose the piece you want to conduct in our next choir concert” without asking me if I would like to do it. He somehow felt I had talent for conducting and had the trust in me that I would do it well. Another very important guide on my path was Dr. Thomas Daniel Schlee, an Austrian composer, organist and artistic director. He encouraged me to study conducting, gave me a lot of advice in the beginning and also organized my first public concert with orchestra at his festival. Of course, important figures in my development as a conductor are my teachers Georg Mark, Andreas Stoehr and most of all Sophie Rachlin, who is a wonderful mentor to me and is constantly working with me on my artistic development and growth as a conductor.

Read the entire interview here, in the 2th/2022 issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.

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