Latvian-born Andris Nelsons has held major conducting posts on both the concert and operatic stages, and in each realm has distinguished himself as an incisive interpreter of a broad range of music. Thus, whether conducting Puccini at the Met, Wagner at Bayreuth, or Stravinsky with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Nelsons has managed to win over both critics and public alike. And his recordings have had similar success, amassing to a dozen or more by his early thirties. Nelsons' orchestral repertory includes large portions of Mozart, Beethoven, Mahler, Dvorák, Tchaikovsky, Richard Strauss, and Shostakovich. His operatic repertory takes in much Wagner and Puccini, as well as Bizet, Tchaikovsky, and Richard Strauss, and often he brings opera into the concert hall as with his 2010 concert performance of Wagner's Lohengrin in Birmingham. Nelsons has conducted throughout Europe, the U.K., U.S., Japan, and elsewhere across the globe. He has recorded for Orfeo, DG, Decca, and Sony. Andris Nelsons was born in Riga, Latvia on November 18, 1978. His parents and step-father were musicians, and from an early age Nelsons studied piano but took up the trumpet at 12. He later sang in his mother's early music ensemble and played trumpet in the Latvian National Opera Orchestra.
After local studies Nelsons began studying conducting at the St. Petersburg Conservatory with Alexander Titov. From 2002, he studied privately with famed conductor Mariss Jansons. Nelsons served as principal conductor of the Latvian National Opera from 2003-2007. In 2006 he took on a second important post, this one as chief conductor of the Herford, Germany-based Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, a position he held until 2009.
From 2007, Nelsons began making regular appearances in the U.K. and that September was named music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, effective in 2008-2009. In 2009 Nelsons debuted at the Met, leading a performance of Puccini's Turandot. That same year his original three-year contract with the CBSO was extended through the 2013-2014 season.
2010 was another breakthrough year: Nelsons debuted at the Bayreuth Festival with Wagner's Lohengrin and at Carnegie Hall with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in a highly praised reading of the Mahler Ninth Symphony. That same year Nelsons also received the Latvian Grand National Award. Among Nelsons' more critically acclaimed recordings is his 2011 Decca recording of Puccini's Turandot, with Maria Guleghina and Samuel Ramey, and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus.