Skip to content

Benjamin Shwartz

Affiliations: Duisburg Philharmonic

Critics have hailed Benjamin Shwartz for the intensity of his music making and the clear vision of his interpretations. These qualities, applied to a strikingly broad repertoire, flow naturally from the conductor’s profound musicianship and insatiable curiosity.

Shwartz served as Music Director of the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic from 2013 to 2016. He oversaw the acclaimed Polish institution’s move to the National Forum of Music and was closely involved with its work during Wrocław’s turn as 2016 European Capital of Culture. In March 2017 he released the first instalment of a series of recordings of works by Paweł Mykietyn on the NFM’s own label. In September 2019, he becomes Principal Guest Conductor of the Duisburg Philharmonic. Former positions include Resident Conductor at the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the San Francisco Youth Orchestra.

Shwartz’s repertoire choices reflect his anti-dogmatic, open-minded approach to programming, embracing everything from Adams’s Chamber Symphony to Mahler’s Symphony No.4, Brahms’ Symphony no.2 to Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle. Since 2015, he tours Age of Anxiety, a project developed in collaboration with the sculptor, painter and stage designer Alexander Polzin. The production, based on the poetry of W.H. Auden, employs music and paintings to show the tumultuous events of early 20th century. Shwartz is the conductor of Mercury Soul, the pioneering music project co- founded in 2008 with composer and DJ Mason Bates and visual artist Anne Patterson (

Opera has been a mainstay in recent seasons with Bernstein’s Candide at Oper Köln, Die Fledermaus and La bohème at the Royal Swedish Opera and Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict at the Deutsches Nationaltheater und Staatskapelle Weimar. He’s also conducted Pina Bausch’s choreography of The Rite of Spring at the Opéra National de Paris in a double bill with Salonen’s Violin Concerto. Upcoming stage productions include Balanchine’s ‘Jewels’ for Opéra National de Paris and ‘Bataille d’images’, a collaboration with Les Siècles and dance company Mouvoir around Zimmermann’s Musiques pour les soupers du roi Ubu.

Shwartz has performed with, among others, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the BBC Scottish Symphony, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Tokyo Symphony and the Göteborg Symphony orchestras, the Orquestra Gulbenkian, the St Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Orchestre National de Lille.

Recent recording projects include works by Albert Schnelzer with the Göteborg Symphony Orchestra for BIS, by Poul Ruders with the Odense Symphony Orchestra and music by Vasco Mendonça with the Gulbenkian Orchestra.