Swiftly emerging as one of the most exciting talents of the younger generation, French-Swiss conductor Joseph Bastian is widely celebrated for his “total precision, and calm and masterful manner”, renowned for the remarkable and tangible sense of partnership he creates with orchestral musicians.
The former bass trombonist of the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks (‘BRSO’) (2004-2017), Bastian burst into the international spotlight in February 2016, when he stepped in at the last moment to conduct the orchestra in three subscription concerts – replacing an indisposed Robin Ticciati – with the blessing of his Chief Conductor and conducting supporter, Mariss Jansons. Embracing a demanding programme of Brahms, Berg, and Elgar, Bastian “took over in a very sovereign way as a conductor, transforming this unexpected debut into an artistic triumph” (Abendzeitung München). The event was widely heralded as a “sensational debut” – and Bastian was immediately re-invited.
Born in France to a French-Swiss family, Bastian began his musical journey by studying the cello, trombone, and composition. After studies in trombone at the University of Music Saar, he performed as a member of the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra under Claudio Abbado and Pierre Boulez, and the Orchestra of the Academy of the Munich Philharmonic, before taking up his position as Principal Bass Trombonist with the BRSO.
During his tenure with the orchestra (a period which afforded him first-hand observation of the rehearsal techniques and performance styles of many of the world’s leading conductors), Bastian was helped and supported in his own conducting studies by Mariss Jansons, with whom he worked closely as an Assistant Conductor. He also worked as an Assistant to Daniel Harding (BR Choir, Symphony Orchestra, and Academy), and Vladimir Jurowski (London Philharmonic Orchestra), whilst receiving masterclasses and support from such artists as Bernard Haitink (Festival Strings Lucerne), Jorma Panula (Noord Nederlands Orkest), and David Zinman (Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich). Bastian further honed his skills as Chief Conductor of the Abaco-Orchestra of the University of Munich (2011-2018), touring the orchestra to such major European venues as Musikverein Wien. He was awarded the prestigious Neeme Järvi Prize at the Gstaad Menuhin Festival & Academy (2016), and went on to take the Gstaad Festival Orchestra on international tour during the 2016/2017 season. In spring 2018, Bastian took the decision to resign his position as Principal Bass Trombone, in order to dedicate himself fully to developing his rapidly expanding career on the conducting podium.
Highlights of the 2017/2018 season included successful debuts with the Bremer Philharmoniker, Münchener Kammerorchester, Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège, and Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, amongst others. Following the success of the last-minute substitution that launched his career, in March 2018 Bastian stepped up to the mark again in three (debut) subscription concerts with the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker – this time replacing Principal Guest Conductor Alexandre Bloch – with a programme that included the world premiere of Fredrik Högberg’s Violin Concerto, to great critical acclaim.
The 2018/2019 season sees returns to the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker and Sinfonieorchester Basel, as well as two return engagements with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks – whom he will conduct at the beginning of the season in the finals of the prestigious ARD International Music Competition, then closing the season with a programme of Boulez and Reich. Debuts this season include Bamberger Symphoniker and HR-Sinfonieorchester, and Bastian will also cross continents for the first time: making his Asian debut on a Japanese tour with the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra.
Bastian’s operatic experience includes productions with BRSO, Bourgas State Opera, and Kammeroper München. Alongside the major symphonic repertoire, coupled with a dedication to the championing of contemporary works, Bastian also has a keen interest in historically informed performance practice. During his earlier career as an orchestral musician, his expert knowledge of instruments such as the sackbut, serpent, and ophicleide saw him perform not only with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, but also with other such world-class ensembles as the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
Joseph Bastian lives in Munich with his wife – the soprano, Lydia Teuscher – and their two children.