“The Berliner Philharmoniker have lost one of their most important instrumentalists – the music world has gained an enterprising maestro,” wrote [Der Tagesspiegel] in 2008. Karl-Heinz Steffens was principal clarinettist of the Berliner Philharmoniker until 2007, before switching sides and taking up his new post as general music director of the Staatskapelle Halle and artistic director of the city’s opera house during the current season – a dazzling second career start that was also supported by Daniel Barenboim.
After his time in Halle, Steffens became chief conductor and general music director of the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz as well as music director of the Norwegian National Opera in Oslo. He then took on the position of music director of the State Opera in Prague, which reopened in January 2020 after extensive renovation, as well as head of the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra in Sweden. As a sought-after guest conductor, Steffens has worked with orchestras such as the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, the Helsinki Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He made his debut conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker in October 2013. Since then, he has been regularly re-engaged by the Munich Philharmonic, the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Steffens is also a distinguished opera conductor who has appeared several times at La Scala in Milan and the Staatsoper “Unter den Linden” in Berlin.