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. 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 the Japanese premiere of the work (opening concert of the Tokyo Summer Festival in 2000) and at the Rotterdam Gergiev Festival 2001. With the help of Mrs Irina Shostakovich and Krzystof Meyer he restored the complete score to another Trauberg/Shostakovich film, Odna (1929), and conducted the world premiere (the first Shostakovich premiere for over twenty years) in Holland and later in Paris, with enormous success.
He conducted the United Kingdom premiere 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 the no less successful The Girlfriends and other previously unrecorded works [8.572138]. In 2010 his accompaniment of the 1927 silent film ‘Wings’ with Carl Davis’ score at the Pordenone Festival was received with great critical and public acclaim.
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 premiere 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 do Porto, Portugal. He was Assistant Conductor in Strasbourg both at the Philharmonic Orchestra and at the Opéra du Rhin from 1997 to 2002. In 2012 he made his debut with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, and conducted the Swiss premiere of Debussy’s The Fall of the House of Usher with the Basel Sinfonietta. The following year he made his debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The 2013/14 season saw his debut with the Bochumer Symphoniker and the Wuppertal Sinfonieorchester. In 2016 at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival Fitz- Gerald conducted, to wide acclaim, his reconstruction of Mortimer Wilson’s vast 1924 score for the Douglas Fairbanks film The Thief of Bagdad. A second public performance, with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, recorded by Hessischer Rundfunk, took place in Frankfurt on 19 April 2019.
The Sound of Silents – Mark Fitz-Gerald talks to Jeremy Siepmann