Günther Herbig began his musical training with Hermann Abendroth at the Franz Liszt Academy in Weimar. He continued his studies with Hermann Scherchen, and was one of only a few students chosen for intensive study with Herbert von Karajan, with whom he worked for two years. In 1972 he became General Music Director of the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, and from 1977 held the same position with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra until 1984 when he resigned and moved to America.
Because of the political situation in what was then East Germany, Günther Herbig's first opportunity in the West came quite late - he was invited to be the Principal Guest Conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in 1979. After being Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra from 1984 for six years, he took over as Music Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra until 1994. He continues to live in Michigan.
Since moving to the USA, he has appeared with all the great American orchestras. He toured America several times with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and also toured in Europe. With the Toronto Symphony Orchestra he toured the Far East and Europe. From 1990 to 1997 he was the visiting Professor of Conducting at Yale University, with a one week master class each term.
In West Europe, he started his career in Britain in 1979 when he became Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. It was only in 1984, after he had left East Germany, that Günther Herbig had the opportunity to conduct regularly in Western Europe. Very quickly he was invited by the other major British orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Since then he has conducted most of the major European Orchestras. From 2001 to 2006 he was Chief Conductor of the Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra, during which time he rebuilt the Orchestra and brought it up to a higher level. He continues to work with them on a regular basis.
He has recorded more than 100 works, some with the East German orchestras with whom he was associated prior to moving to the West in 1984. Since then he has made recordings with several of the London orchestras, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Saarbrücken RSO.
He is famed for his conducting of the 19th century Germanic repertoire and in 2001 the Edinburgh International Festival decided to present a marathon “Homage to Beethoven” concert inviting Mr Herbig to conduct this. It was a duplicate of the programme that took place at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna on 22 December 1808 when Beethoven presented (and conducted) the Premiere of 5 new compositions, including the Pastoral Symphony. This three hour programme devised by Beethoven was Symphony No 6, Ah! Perfido, Gloria from the C Major Mass, Piano Concerto No 4, Symphony No 5, Sanctus from the C Major Mass and Choral Fantasia. This programme was also shown on BBC Television.
Mr Herbig was Music Advisor and Principal Guest Conductor of the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Taiwan for 2008/9 and 2009/10, and continues to work with them on an annual basis. For some years he has been Principal Guest Conductor of one of Spain’s major orchestras – the Orquesta Filarmonica de Gran Canaria.
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