The Austrian conductor and composer who promoted contemporary music in opera and concert.
Raised in Argentina, he first worked in Vienna and was Generalmusikdirektor (GMD) of the Royal Swedish Opera. He conducted notable world premieres such as György Ligeti's Requièm, Karlheinz Stockhausen's Carré, and Bernd Alois Zimmermann's opera Die Soldaten and his Requiem für einen jungen Dichter. He directed the Frankfurt Opera from 1977 to 1987, installing more contemporary operas, winning stage directors such as Hans Neuenfels and Ruth Berghaus, and reviving operas such as Schreker's Die Gezeichneten. During his era, the company became one of the leading operas.
Gielen was also principal conductor of the Belgian National Orchestra (1969–1973), the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (1980–1986) and the Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra (1986–1999). As a composer, he worked in the tradition of the Second Viennese School, often setting modern literature to music. His works were premiered with performers such as Joan Carroll, Siegfried Palm, Aloys Kontarsky and the LaSalle Quartet.
He is best known for his interpretations of Bach, having recorded the complete Bach organ works for Decca and BBC Radio 3. His expertise also encompasses recordings of the Romantic literature for organ, performances notable for attention to stylistic detail. His playing style is noted for clean articulation, beauty of expression, and a sense of proper tempo.
He suffered a minor stroke in 1997, but recovered enough to resume his performing career seven months later. In 2008 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, hence he retired formally from performing in 2009. ("Bach Notes", London Bach Society, Autumn 2013).
Peter Hurford died on 3 March 2019, aged 88.
Flummerfelt attended DePauw University for his first studies in organ and church music, graduating in 1958. He followed this with a master's degree in choral conducting from the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music (1962) and a doctorate from the University of Illinois (1971); he also studied under Nadia Boulanger, Julius Herford, and Elaine Brown. In addition to serving for 23 years as maestro di coro for the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, Flummerfelt has been director of choral activities for the American spin-off Spoleto USA in Charleston, SC, since 1977. He made his conducting debut with the New York Philharmonic in 1988 and serves as chorusmaster for that ensemble. He has also founded and continues to direct the New York Choral Artists. He taught at the University of Illinois (1963-1964), DePauw University (1964-1968), and Florida State University (1968-1971), before joining the faculty at Westminster Choir College (beginning in 1971).