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François-Xavier Roth - credit to Marco Borggreve

Born in Paris on 6 November 1971 in the suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, François-Xavier Roth is raised in Montmartre. His father, Daniel Roth, then titular organist at the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, has held the same position at the Church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris since 1985 and ranks among the world's leading organ recitalists. Music occupies a central place in FXR's upbringing.


1990-93

At the age of 18 FXR joins the Orchestre Symphonique Français to play second flute and piccolo, and enrols at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris to study with Alain Marion, one of the finest flute players of the second half of the 20th century. Receives the Conservatoire's Premier Prix and takes up teaching positions in Montpellier and Saint-Quentin.


Mid-1990s

FXR decides to pursue his dream of becoming a conductor. He continues work as a freelance flute and piccolo player with the Opéra de Paris, the Orchestre National de France and other leading French ensembles. Develops his conducting skills and repertoire knowledge working with accomplished amateur orchestras in Paris.


1998-2000

Returns to the Conservatoire de Paris as a member of János Fürst's pioneering new conducting class. The Hungarian conductor and inspirational teacher nurtures FXR's natural abilities as a communicator and musical leader, a process reinforced by coaching sessions from such outstanding guest lecturers as Jorma Panula.


2000

FXR is appointed Associate Conductor of the Orchestre de Caen in Normandy for a two-year term.  Although he holds little hope of success, enters the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition in London, reaches the final round and shares first prize with Pablo González. The prestigious award includes the opportunity to serve as assistant conductor with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) for one year.


2000-2002

FXR leaves the Conservatoire de Paris to work with the LSO and develop his craft in Caen. The LSO experience proves invaluable, especially so when he meets Pierre Boulez ("a seminal moment," he recalls) and assists Sir Colin Davis in preparing acclaimed performances of Berlioz's Les Troyens at the Barbican Centre in 2001. Extends his assistant conductor arrangement with the LSO to span a second year, the beginning of a relationship which sees the LSO engage FXR for regular guest appearances, to conduct everything from Family Concerts and groundbreaking programmes with LSO Discovery/ Panufnik Young Composers to concerts in the orchestra's Barbican Centre series. "I see this period with the LSO as one of extraordinary personal fascination and great joy," he notes. "It was incredible to explore such a wide repertoire and make so many experiments in new music with this great orchestra." 

Guest conducting invitations lead to debut appearances with the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse and the Orchestre de Paris. News of the impressive quality of FXR's work as guest conductor begins to reach the ears of orchestral managers and agents.  In April 2001 The Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris invites FXR to assist Sir John Eliot Gardiner in preparing performances of Verdi's Falstaff with the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique. The two men establish a close and lasting relationship, with FXR working as assistant conductor for Gardiner's landmark performances of Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini at the Zurich Opera House (October - November 2002) and Les Troyens at the Châtelet (October 2003), the latter a highlight of the composer's bicentenary year.


2002-2003

Makes opera conducting debut at the Théâtre de Caen with Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande in a production staged by Yannis Kokkos.  Guest engagements in France and abroad include debut performances with the Orchestre National de Lyon, the Orchestre National d'Île-de-France, the Miskolc Symphony Orchestra (Hungary) and the Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra (Colombia). Becomes professor at the Conservatoire de Paris and takes charge of the introductory class for students of orchestral conducting.

FXR founds Les Siècles in the Summer of 2003 with two concerts. The Paris-based ensemble and its Artistic Director apply historically informed performance practices to music by everyone from Bach to Boulez, Lully to Ligeti, Saint-Saëns to Stravinsky. They employ instruments from the periods in which individual compositions were created, often using baroque and modern instruments in the same concert.  In October 2003 FXR deputises when Sir John Eliot Gardiner is taken ill during a Châtelet concert interval, receiving critical acclaim for his performance of Berlioz's Lélio with the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique.


2004-2005

Enduring guest conducting relationship with the Ensemble Intercontemporain begins in January with the world premiere performance of Brian Ferneyhough's Seven Tableaux Vivants representing the Angel of History as Melancholia at the Musée d'Orsay, Paris. Ferneyhough takes the role of reciter in his work, which is programmed together with music by Webern.  FXR begins a series of annual visits to the Hong Kong Academy of the Performing Arts.


2005-2006

Travels to Warsaw to conduct the Polish premiere of Répons by Pierre Boulez with the New Music Orchestra, members of Ensemble Court-Circuit and sound engineers from IRCAM in Paris.   Makes debut with Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and works with the Orchestre de Paris during its residency at the Théâtre Mogador in Paris.  Conducts Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann in Beijing, staged by Daniel Mesguich for Chinese National Opera, the first ever French-language opera production in China.  Makes debut with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in October 2005.


2007-2008

Les Siècles and FXR perform in Nantes (February) and Tokyo (April - May) as part of the festival La Folle Journée, exploring works by Bizet, Chabrier, Chausson, Saint-Saëns, Delibes, Gounod, Bartók and Tchaikovsky. They mark their UK debut in July with a concert in Middle Temple Hall during the City of London Festival, heralded by the Independent as "a delight from beginning to end".  FXR tours Germany, Luxembourg and France with Ensemble Modern (March), performing Martin Matalon's score to accompany the restored version of Fritz Lang's silent movie Metropolis. He opens his account as a regular guest conductor at Berlin's Komische Oper with Les contes d'Hoffmann (February - May) and also steps in at the last moment in August to make his BBC Proms debut with the LSO in a programme of music by Aaron Copland and Astor Piazzolla.

In September FXR and Les Siècles launch Presto! a series of short introductions to popular classical works is made for and broadcast by France 2. The primetime television show, presented by composer Pierre Charvet, regularly attracts an audience of between three and four million viewers. France 2 commissions a second series.  Les Siècles forge successful partnerships with the Cité de la musique and the Salle Pleyel in Paris, leading to regular concert series in both Paris venues.

From September 2007 to 2010 FXR serves as Associate Conductor of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.  Makes debut with the Finnish Radio Orchestra in 2008 and is invited to return regularly in following seasons.


2008-2009

Performs Handel's Giulio Cesare with Les Siècles in March 2008, FXR's seventh opera at the Théâtre de Caen since 2002.  Takes up position as Associate Guest Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Also serves as Principal Guest Conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Navarra (2008 - 2010) and makes his debut with the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg in a programme including Paul Dukas's Symphony in C and music by Wolfgang Rihm (March 2008).


2009-2010

The Ministère de la Culture - DRAC Picardie appoints Les Siècles as resident orchestra in the department of Aisne and for the Picardy region. A CD of works by Bizet and Chabrier, attracts international critical acclaim and receives a coveted 'Diapason d'Or' recommendation in Diapason magazine.

With Ensemble Modern FXR explores seminal works by Edgard Varèse, Octandre, Hyperprism and Ionisation among them, at the Salzburg Festival.   FXR takes up the post of Music Director of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège, recording an album of works by César Franck and reintroducing baroque music to the orchestra's programme during his tenure.

FXR appears at the BBC Proms with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in a televised concert in Summer 2010 including the UK premiere of Matalon's Lignes de fuite and conducts world premiere of Simon Holt's Centauromachy (November 2010, St David's Hall, Cardiff).

Les Siècles start their own recording label, Les Siècles Live.  The first release, Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique, is recorded live at the Festival Berlioz in the composer's home town of La Côte-Saint-André, where they have a residency.   Reviewing the recording in The Sunday Times, David Cairns says: 'The performance has a raw, authentic energy, as if the location inspired the players to exceptional efforts.'

FXR conducts Mignon by Ambroise Thomas at the Opéra Comique during August to critical acclaim. 


2010-2011

FXR and Les Siècles present four concerts at the Cité de la musique, the Théâtre de Nîmes and the Abbaye de Royaumont (September - October) to mark the centenary season of Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. The conductor commissions Bruno Mantovani and Charles Piper to restore the score of Les Orientales, a ballet comprising music by various authors first performed in Paris in June 1910.

Also in September Ensemble Intercontemporain and FXR celebrate Pierre Boulez's 85th birthday with a performance of the composer's Le marteau sans maître at the Berlin Philharmonie.  FXR directs performances of Matalon's revised Metropolis score with Ensemble Modern at the Berliner Festspiele (March).

Concerts with the LSO at the Barbican Centre (January & May 2011) include the world premiere performance of Tim Garland's Concerto for saxophone, percussion and orchestra and FXR continues to work on LSO Discovery projects.  Performs Offenbach's Les Brigands with Les Siècles at the Opéra Comique (June - July 2011) to great critical acclaim.  Returns to BBC Proms and with BBC NOW for programme including Saint-Saëns Symphony No 3, a work included on a second CD release on Les Siècles Live, but recorded live at Saint-Sulpice with Daniel Roth at the organ and coupled with the Piano Concerto No 4 with Jean-François Heisser on an 1874 Erard piano.


2011-2012

FXR launches initial three-year tenure as Chief Conductor of the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg with his debut at the Donaueschinger Musiktage (16 October) and a concert of works by Webern, Boulez and Mahler's First Symphony at the Freiburg Konzerthaus (29 October).  The season includes an extensive tour of Japan in February 2012.

A CD of Stravinsky's L'oiseau de feu (The Firebird) and Les Orientales, recorded for the very first time on period instruments, is released on the Les Siècles Live label. 


2012-2014

To mark the centenary of The Rite of Spring in 2013, FXR and Les Siècles performs the work on period instruments on tour, including performances at the BBC Proms and the Alte Oper, Frankfurt. They record the piece to be released in May 2014 in a reconstructed version of the work as heard at its 1913 premiere. 

With the SWR SO, FXR publishes in 2013 two volumes of an integral recording of Richard Strauss symphonic poems (Heldenleben / Tod und Verklärung Don Quixote / Till Eulenspiegel / Macbeth). 

In february 2014, François-Xavier Roth is appointed new Generalmusikdirektor of the City of Köln, to begin on 1st september 2015.