Ernst Theis

Conductor

Biography

Ernst Theis has been chief conductor of the Dresden State Operetta since the beginning of the season 2003/04. This ensemble has been working to build a new performance space and he has supported this project with his artistic contributions and great personal commitment.

His work with the compositions of Johann Strauss and Jacques Offenbach has been attracting the attention of the musical theater community for years. Together with the director of the Dresden Theatre, Wolfgang Schaller, he initiated the promotion of the lesser-known works of Johann Strauss with the project Der Unbekannte Johann Strauss (The unknown Johann Strauss). What followed were stage productions and complete recordings of the Strauss operettas The Queen's Lace Handkerchief, Carnival in Rome and Prince Methuselah as well as La Périchole by Jacques Offenbach, which was the first production of the Der deutsche Offenbach project. This work lead to become part of the above-mentioned 1st Johann Strauss Festival Dresden in 2011.

An early high point Ernst Theis' career came in 1996 after he had been conducting for 5 years. Equipped with a grant from the Federal Ministry of Education and the Arts, he participated in the International Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt and also took part in the Conducting Competition there. Chaired by the renowned conductor Peter Eötvös, the jury named Ernst Theis the winner. The prize included conducting the Ensemble Modern in Frankfurt and an invitation to the Spring Festival in St. Petersburg among other opportunities. There, he worked on Anton Webern's Passacaglia and Alban Berg's Violin Concerto with the St. Petersburg Symphony, a programme that was then performed at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic.

His career had already started gaining momentum in 1995. After a last-minute audition at the Vienna Chamber Opera (Rudolf Berger, director), Ernst Theis was offered a series of performances there. His collaboration at the Vienna Chamber Opera continued until after Josef Hussek took over as impresario. There, Ernst Theis prepared premieres for Cosi fan tutte (Mozart), The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein (Offenbach) and A Night in Venice (Johann Strauss). On his own initiative, he wrote an instrumentation for 16 instrumentalists for The Night in Venice, which suited both the aesthetics and acoustics of the Vienna Chamber Opera particularly well. That same year, Ernst Theis was asked to jump in as conductor at the Vienna Volksoper. This resulted in a nearly three-year long engagement as conductor at the house until the era of Klaus Bachler as artistic director came to an end. Ernst Theis has spent the following years working to perfect his capabilities as kapellmeister and continuously expanding its concert repertoire.

Born in Upper Austria, Ernst Theis studied at the the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna. He completed two instrumental courses of study - trumpet and percussion. He graduated with honors with an artist degree in percussion in 1983 and received the Honour Award from the Federal Ministry of Education and the Arts of the Republic of Austria. He subsequently played in various orchestras in Vienna (Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Volksoper Orchestra, Vienna Symphony, Vienna Philharmonic). In 1986 he was already given his own studio in the percussion department at the Vienna Conservatory.

He remained the artistic manager of the Austrian Chamber Symphony until 2004, expanding its repertoire of the First Viennese School. This resulted in the world’s only complete recordings of Haydn’s piano concertos, featuring Italian pianist Massimo Palumbo, which was released in 2002 by Label Arts Music. These recordings include 13 piano concertos and concertini totaling 3 CDs.

A comprehensive 4-CD series, featuring works from the beginning of the 20th century (Martinu, Honegger, Milhaud, Schulhoff) and contemporary musik, also originates from this time period, which Ernst Theis produced for the German recording label Cantate Musicaphon.

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Ernst Theis
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