top of page

Hans Graf

"Graf conducts the Zemlinsky {Lyric Symphony) with deep, tangible sensuality,
while the playing combines clarity with textures of breathtaking beauty."

-The Guardian

"One of the finest Wozzeck on record, orchestrally speaking."

The Austrian conductor, Hans Graf, was appointed Music Director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra in 2001 and concluded his tenure in 2013 with a semi-staged production of Alban Berg's opera Wozzeck and a festive performance of Mahler's Second Symphony.


He is the longest serving Music Director in the orchestra's 100 years and holds the title of Conductor Laureate. Prior to his appointment in Houston, he was the Music Director of the Calgary Philharmonic(CPO) for eight seasons and of the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine (ONBA) for six years. He also led the Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg from 1984 to 1994 and the Basque National Orchestra from 1994 to 1996.

Hans Graf is a frequent guest with major North American orchestras. His guest engagements in the US include the Boston Symphony, the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, the Atlanta, San Francisco, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Detroit, Dallas, Baltimore, Utah, Milwaukee, Colorado and National Symphony Orchestras, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. In Canada, he works with the Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver Symphony Orchestras.


Mr. Graf made his Carnegie Hall debut with the Houston Symphony in January 2006. They returned in January 2010 to the New York premiere of The Planets - An HD Odyssey, featuring an exclusive video with high definition images from NASA, together with Gustav Holst's The Planets. Mr. Graf and the Houston Symphony appeared again in May 2012 in Carnegie's Spring for Music Festival with an All-Shostakovich program.

In Europe, Mr. Graf conducted the Philhamonic Orchestras of Vienna and London, the Vienna Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestras as well as the St. Petersburg and Russian National Philharmonic of Moscow, the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, Bavarian and Danish Radio Symphony Orchestras, the Hilversum Radio Philharmonic (at the Concertgebouw's famous SaturdayMatinees), the LSO, LPO, RPO, the Birmingham, Hallé, Royal Scottish, the Irish National and the Budapest Festival Orchestras, the Gothenburg Symphony as well as the Oslo and Stockholm Philharmonics, among others.  He is also a regular guest with the Sydney, Melbourne, and Singapore Symphonies and the Seoul, Hong Kong and Malaysia Philharmonics.

In October 2010, Mr. Graf led the Houston Symphony on a tour to the UK with performances in Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds, Edinburgh and the Barbican in London.  In June 2012, the Houston Symphony with Mo. Graf was the first major American orchestra to appear at the Festival of World Symphony Orchestras in Moscow, presenting two programs, (Mozart "Prague" plus Bruckner 9, and the Russian premiere of John Adams' Doctor Atomic Symphony) plus the first Russian performance of Shostakovich's Symphony 11 by a foreign orchestra.

In 2013, Mr. Graf returned with three productions to the Salzburg Festival where he debuted in 1983.

He participated at other prestigious European festivals such as Bregenz, Grafenegg, Orange, Aix en Provence the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, and Savonlinna in Finland. His recent US festival appearances include the Tanglewood and Blossom Music Festivals, Aspen, Bravo!Vail, the Texas Music Festiva, and the Grant Park Music Festival in downtown Chicago.

An experienced opera conductor, Mr. Graf first conducted the Vienna State Opera in 1981 and has since led productions in the opera hoses of Munich, Berlin, Paris, Rome, and many others.  Recent opera engagements include Zurich (Parsifal) and the Opera National du Rhin in Strasbourg (Boris Godunov).

In 2014, he was awarded the "Österreichischer Musiktheaterpreis" for best musical performance, conducting a concert version of Richard Strauss' opera Die Feuersnot at the Volksoper in Vienna.

Hans Graf's extensive discography includes the complete symphonies of Mozart and Schubert, the complete orchestral works of Henri Dutilleux (under supervision of the composer) with the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine (BMG Arte Nova/SONY) as well as the world premiere recording of Zemlinsky's opera Es war einmal (Danish Radio, Capriccio).

Among his many recordings with the Houston Symphony are Bartok's Wooden Prince (Koch), Zemlinsky's Lyric Symphony, Mahler's Lied von der Erde (Naxos), and a DVD of The Planets - An HD Odyssey. Naxos also released Houston Symphony's Wozzeck in January of 2017. This recording was awarded the ECHO Klassik prize in 2017 for the best opera recording (category 20./ 21. century) and the GRAMMY in 2018 for Best Opera.

Other recent CDs include the complete works for viola and orchestra by Hindemith with Tabea Zimmermann and the DSO Berlin (Myrios) and Orff's Carmina Burana with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Born near Linz (Austria), Hans Graf first studied piano. After receiving his diplomas in piano and conducting, he studied in Italy with Franco Ferrara (Siena) and Sergiu Celibidache (Bologna) and in St Petersburg with Arvid Jansons.

Hans Graf has been nominated for the Chevalier de l'Ordre de la Légion d'Honneur by the French Government (2002) and was awarded the Grand Decoration of Honour of the Republic of Austria.

He is also Professor Emeritus for Orchestral Conducting at the Universität Mozarteum in Salzburg.

bottom of page