Cristian Mandeal is among the most important Romanian conductors of his generation. He has had an international career for over four decades, conducting major orchestras throughout Europe, the Americas, the Far East and Israel, and collaborating with some of the leading soloists of the day, including Alicia de Larrocha, Radu Lupu, Yefim Bronfman, Ivo Pogorelich, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Maxim Vengerov.
His repertoire includes much of the orchestral output of Romanian composer George Enescu, but he is also well known for his interpretations of Brahms and Bruckner, and has championed works by many Romanian contemporary composers, including Ede Terényi and Cornel Taranu. Cristian Mandeal has made numerous recordings for several labels, among them Arte Nova Classics, BIS, and Electrecord.
Cristian Mandeal was born in Rupea, Romania, on 19 April 1946. He graduated from the Brasov Musical High School and then enrolled at the Bucharest Music Academy, where he studied conducting, piano, and composition. He later studied in Berlin with Herbert von Karajan in 1980 and with Sergiu Celibidache in Munich in 1990.
He graduated from the Bucharest Music Academy in 1974 and worked briefly as an assistant at the Romanian Opera. In 1977 he was appointed permanent conductor of the Tirgu Mures Philharmonic Orchestra, a post he held for three seasons. From 1980 to 1987 he was permanent conductor at the Cluj-Napoca (Transylvania) Philharmonic Orchestra.
Cristian Mandeal was permanent conductor of the George Enescu Bucharest Philharmonic Orchestra from 1991 – 2009. During this time his recordings gained international acclaim, and in particular his 1997 nine-CD set of Brahms‘s orchestral works, issued to commemorate the centenary of Brahms‘ s death.
As well as the positions in Romania, he has been Artistic Director of the Northern Israeli Orchestra, Haifa (1999 – 2002) and the Basque National Orchestra, San Sebastian (2001 – 2008); Permanent Conductor of the Haydn Orchestra of Bolzano and Trento (2000 – 2003); Principal Guest Conductor of the Hallé Orchestra, Manchester (2005 – 2010) – the first to hold this title in the 150-year history of the orchestra, the Belgrade Philharmonic (2006 – 2007 season), and the Copenhagen Philharmonic (2006 – 2013).
Cristian Mandeal’s repertoire is extensive, embracing both orchestral music and opera, with a special focus on the music of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He has conducted over sixty premiere performances of works by both Romanian and foreign composers, including some personally dedicated to him. He is a tireless promoter of George Enescu, whose music he has made known around the globe. In particular, it was he who first introduced the opera Oedipe to audiences in the UK (Edinburgh Festival, 2002) and Italy (eight performances at the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, 2005, with a total audience of 11,000). Since 2008 he has been president of the Enescu Society of London.
Among over 25 CDs, totalling over 50 titles, he has recorded sixteen albums with the George Enescu Philharmonic for BMG Ariola (Germany), including the complete orchestral works of Brahms in nine albums, issued in Germany and the United States in 1997 for the centenary of the composer’s death, and the complete orchestral works of George Enescu in seven albums. He has recorded a further seven albums with the Basque National Orchestra, San Sebastian, for Claves (Switzerland) and Bis (Sweden), together with a recording of Bruckner’s 9th Symphony with the Hallé Orchestra, Manchester, issued on the Hallé’s own CD label. This last has been acclaimed in specialised publications as the best recording of Bruckner’s music by any British orchestra. He has also recorded six DVD albums with the George Enescu Philharmonic for AIX Records (USA).