Ulf Schirmer is presently General Director of the Leipzig Opera (Oper Leipzig), one of the major opera houses in Germany. He has been in this capacity since August 2011, after having been Music Director of this company since 2009. During those years, Ulf Schirmer has brought Leipzig Opera to a renewed international level, which has been acclaimed by both public and the press repeatedly. Especially the work of Leipzig-born composer Richard Wagner has been at the centre of his attention, but beyond that the general quality both in the musical and production fields has brought the Leipzig Opera back amongst the leading German and European opera companies.
Ulf Schirmer was born in Eschenhausen in Lower Saxony, Germany, and received his first musical education at the conservatory in Bremen. Later he moved on to the Hamburg Music University, where he was a student of distinguished teachers Horst Stein, Christoph von Dohnányi and György Ligeti. He had his first opera house engagement in 1980 at the National Theatre in Mannheim. Already very soon afterwards Lorin Maazel, freshly appointed as Director of the Vienna State Opera, called him to be his assistant at this prestigious house. In a very short time he turned to be an important member of the company, conducting and rehearsing numerous productions and performances among which there were also several new productions. From 1988 to 1991 Ulf Schirmer was Music Director in Wiesbaden und Artistic Director of the concert series at the Hessisches Staatstheater. In 1991 he became Resident Conductor at the Vienna State Opera and has since then continuously returned to this company. For some years, when Ioan Holender was Director, he was also its musical consultant. 1995-98 saw Ulf Schirmer as Music Director of the Danish Radio-Symphony Orchestra in Copenhagen. In 2000 he has been appointed Professor for musical analysis and music dramaturgy at the Hamburg Music University. For eleven years, from 2006 to 2017, Ulf Schirmer was Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Munich Radio Orchestra, renewing the image of this orchestra and conducting an extremely wide repertoire from movie scores and operetta to contemporary sacred music and commissioned works. There he also initiated number of audio-visual projects like CD portraits of vocal artists and highly awarded recordings of rare operatic works. Over the years Ulf Schirmer’s repertoire has become highly diversified. It ranges from the classical concert repertoire, opera, operetta to sacral and film music of the 20th and 21st centuries. Special attention is given to German opera and concert repertoire of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but Ulf Schirmer is also very much at home in large parts of French and Nordic music. Ulf Schirmer is a regular guest with number of international companies and orchestras. Next to his special and ongoing artistic relations with Japanese companies like the New National Opera or the Tokyo Spring Festival, to name just a few, he regularly appears at the Vienna State Opera, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Oper Stuttgart and Opernhaus Zürich, and he has been conducting at the Bregenz Festival, Salzburg Festival, Paris Bastille Opera, La Scala in Milano. In concert halls he could be heard with such orchestras as the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Bamberg Symphony Orchesta, Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne, Staatskapelle Dresden and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.