“Unmatched for podium presence” (New York Classical Review) and with an “ability to create viscerally arresting performances” (LA Times), Susanna Mälkki is one of today’s most sought-after conductors. Her versatility and broad repertoire have taken her to symphony and chamber orchestras, contemporary music ensembles and opera houses around the world.
Mälkki continues to guest-conduct at the very highest level, with 2019/20 appearances including return visits to the New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, the Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia, London Philharmonic and London Symphony orchestras, and the Münchner Philharmoniker and Orchestre national de Lyon. Mälkki also debuts with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Orchestre de Paris and Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo. Recent engagements include the Wiener Symphoniker and Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien (as a Wiener Konzerthaus “Portrait” artist), hr-Sinfonieorchester, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.
2019/20 marks Mälkki’s fourth season as Chief Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, with highlights including premieres by leading national composers Saariaho and Wennäkoski and a new work by Felipe Lara (co-commissioned with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, featuring double bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding and flautist Claire Chase), a tour to Belgium in October, and the continuation of the orchestra’s Bartók Trilogy recordings for BIS Records. As part of her third season as Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Mälkki pays tribute to the late Oliver Knussen, programming his Violin Concerto and co-curating (with Leila Josefowicz) a New Music Group concert centered around his chamber music; she also conducts Holst’s The Planets, Sibelius’s Lemminkäinen Suite and a new composition by Saariaho. Mälkki was previously Principal Guest Conductor of the Gulbenkian Orchestra (2013-17) and Music Director of the Ensemble Intercontemporain (2006-13).
A renowned opera conductor, Mälkki makes her debut at the Festival d’Aix en Provence in 2020, conducting the world premiere of Saariaho’s new opera Innocence. She also returns to the Opéra national de Paris to conduct Boesmans’ Yvonne, princesse de Bourgogne – past engagements include Dvořák’s Rusalka (2019) and the world premiere of Francesconi’s Trompe-la-Mort (2017). In 2018 she debuted at the Wiener Staatsoper in Gottfried von Einem’s Dantons Tod (directed by Josef Ernst Köpplinger); December 2016 marked her debut at The Metropolitan Opera for its premiere of Saariaho’s L’Amour de loin (directed by Robert Lepage). Mälkki previously collaborated with Francesconi on Quartett and was the first woman to conduct a production at Teatro alla Scala, Milan (2011), later returning in 2014. Other past opera highlights include Der Rosenkavalier and Le nozze di Figaro (Finnish National) and her debut at Staatsoper Hamburg conducting a revival of Jenůfa.
A former student of the Sibelius Academy, Mälkki studied with Jorma Panula and Leif Segerstam. Prior to her conducting studies, she had a successful career as a cellist and from 1995 to 1998 was one of the principals of the Gothenburg Symphony. In June 2010 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in London, and she is also a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. In 2011 Mälkki was awarded the Pro Finlandia Medal of the Order of the Lion of Finland – one of Finland’s highest honours – and in January 2016 was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur in France. In October 2016 she was named Musical America’s 2017 Conductor of the Year, and in November 2017 she was awarded the Nordic Council Music Prize.