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Mark Fitz-Gerald studied in London at the Royal College of Music, where his professors included Norman Del Mar, winning all the major prizes for both orchestral and operatic conducting. It was during this time that Henze invited him to take part in the first Cantiere Internazionale d’Arte in Montepulciano, as a result of which he was invited regularly to Switzerland as Guest Conductor of the basel sinfonietta. From 1983 to 1987 he was Artistic Director of the RIAS Jugendorchester (West Berlin) where his innovative Filmharmonic Concerts received much acclaim and were later made available on CD. He returned there to continue the series with the Berlin Rundfunkorchester in 1992. Since then he has performed the very specialised task of accompanying silent films live with orchestra, with much success in many countries and festivals throughout the world.

Described as “one of the indispensable Shostakovich interpreters of our time”, he has performed the Trauberg/Shostakovich classic New Babylon (1929) to great critical acclaim, in particular at the Japanese première of the work (opening concert of the Tokyo Summer Festival in 2000) and the Rotterdam Gergiev Festival 2001. With the help of Mrs Irina Shostakovich and Krzystof Meyer he has restored the complete score to another Trauberg/Shostakovich film, Odna (1929), and conducted the world première (the first Shostakovich première for over twenty years) in Holland and later in Paris, with enormous success. He conducted the United Kingdom première at the Barbican centre in 2006 and his restoration is now published in the new complete edition of the composer’s works. His critically acclaimed recording of Odna (8.570316) was followed by a no less successful Shostakovich’s The Girlfriends and other previously unrecorded works (8.572138). His most recent recording features Ernesto Halffter’s music for the 1926 silent film Carmen (Naxos 8.572260). His accompaniment of the 1927 silent film Wings with Carl Davis’ score at the 2010 Pordenone Festival was so successful that it led to an immediate re-invitation by the Festival’s director, David Robinson.

In 1986 he was appointed Music Director of Kentish Opera, with whom he has conducted many successful productions. He has assisted regularly at the Vienna Staatsoper, as well as the Vienna Kammeroper. In 1992 he made his début at the Vienna Volksoper with The Cunning Little Vixen, and in 1994 conducted the world première of an opera by the Mexican composer Victor Razgado at Spoleto in conjunction with the Italian producer Luca Ronconi. In 1994 he conducted The Nutcracker for the Vienna Festival Ballet. His career has brought guest engagements with orchestras throughout Europe and in Japan. From 1989 to 1993 he was Associate Conductor of the Orquesta de Porto (Orquesta Classica do Porto, Portugal). He was Assistant Conductor in Strasbourg both at the Philharmonic Orchestra and at the Opéra du Rhin from 1997 to 2002. At the end of 2011 he will make his début with the Brandenburger Symphoniker, and in 2012 with the Orquestra Ciudad de Granada and the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. During 2012 he will also give the Swiss première of Debussy’s opera The Fall of the House of Usher. His début with the London Philharmonic Orchestra is planned for the 2012–13 season.

The Sound of Silents – Mark Fitz-Gerald talks to Jeremy Siepmann

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