Ulf Schirmer was born in Eschenhausen/Bremen and studied at the local conservatory and at the Academy of Music in Hamburg with György Ligeti, Christoph von Dohnanyi and Horst Stein. He was assistant to Lorin Maazel and resident conductor at the Vienna State Opera, where he conducted the premieres of new productions like Berio's Un Re in ascolto
, Schönberg's Erwartung
by Henze (a production by Ruth Berghaus) and Raimonda
by Glasunov (choreography by Rudolf Nureyev) as well as the new production of Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail
From 1988 to 1991, Schirmer was the principal music director of the Landeshauptstadt Wiesbaden and artistic director of the symphonic concerts at the Hessisches Staatstheater.
Under the directorship Waechter/ Holender at the Vienna State Opera, Ulf Schirmer regularly conducted and conducts, e.g. Die Fledermaus
on Vienna State Opera's tour in Japan and Die Zauberflöte
in Israel, Adriana Hölsky's Die Wände
at the Vienna Festival as well as Parsifal
and Le Nozze di Figaro
Ulf Schirmer has repeatedly worked at the Salzburg Festival (Antigone by Orff) and symphonic concerts at Mozarteum Salzburg. He is also a regular participant in the Bregenz Festival, where he has conducted Der Fliegende Holländer
, Martinu's Greek Passion
and Puccini's La Bohème
. He will return there in summer 2005 to conduct the new festival production. He is also regularly working with Graz Opera, where he conducted the world première of Gerd Kuhr's Tod und Teufel
, as well as the Ring
Following highly successful productions of Der Rosenkavalier
at the Opera Bastille in Paris, he was immediately re-invited to conduct Die Frau ohne Schatten
. At La Scala Milan he recently had great success with Salome
Future opera projects amongst others: New production of Die Vögel
by Braunfels and Tannhäuser at the Grand Théâtre of Geneva, Le Nozze di Figaro
at the New National Theatre in Tokyo, as well as numerous concerts.
In 1993 Ulf Schirmer was invited to conduct the subscribers' concerts for the 150th anniversary of the Wiener Philharmoniker and in September that year he worked for the first time with the Berlin Philharmonic during the Berlin Festival and was subsequently re-engaged to conduct a very successful series of concerts at the Philharmonie in Berlin.
He made his United Kingdom debut at the BBC Proms with the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, for which he was chief conductor from 1995 to 1998, and with which he was also toured in Europe and America and recorded Nielsen's Maskerade
and Symphony No. 4
for DECCA as well as Lulu
for CHANDOS. In 1999, he returned to London for a series of concerts with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
Ulf Schirmer is a regular guest conductor with orchestras such as the Wiener and Bamberger Sinfoniker, Staatskapelle Dresden, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Orchestra Scala Milan, NHK Tokyo, Radio Symphonie Orchester Wien, Sinfonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Philharmonic Orchestra Rotterdam and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
During the 1998-99 season, he made his U.S. orchestral debut conducting the Minnesota Orchestra, the St. Louis and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras.
Ulf Schirmer's first recording for DECCA was Capriccio
with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and the Vienna Philharmonic. For his recording of Nielsen's Maskerade
, he got two GRAMMY nominations.
He is Professor of music analysis and music dramaturgy at the Academy of Music in Hamburg.