Franz Welser-Möst Will Not Extend Contract with The Cleveland Orchestra

By David Salazar

Conductor Franz Welser-Möst has announced that he will not sign an extension to continue as music director of The Cleveland Orchestra.

His contract is set to expire in 2027 following 25 years of collaboration.

“I am immensely grateful for the extraordinary journey that I have had with The Cleveland Orchestra since I first came to Severance more than 30 years ago,” said Welser-Möst in an official press statement. “It is both a special and an emotional moment as I reflect on what we have accomplished together. But perhaps what matters most to me is the shared passion, the inspiring creativity, and the lasting friendships that I have had the privilege of building with our musicians, audiences, and fans around the world. The city of Cleveland, its people, and especially this wonderful orchestra will forever hold a special place in my heart.”

The conductor started his relationship with the ensemble in 1993 when he debuted in a program of music by Martinu, Schubert, and Mozart. Then he took over the top position in 2002, appointing 52 members of the current 105, and building The Cleveland Orchestra into one of the most renowned ensembles in the world.

In sum Welser-Möst has performed over 1,100 times with the orchestra in 15 U.S. states, 85 different cities, and 21 countries. Throughout that time there have been 37 new commissions, residencies in Vienna and Miami, as well as 29 performances at Carnegie Hall. He also conducted 20 operas and led numerous digital initiatves, including Adella.Live, a platform that gives audiences an in-depth look at the organization’s music-making. Under his leadership, the company also established an in-house recording label in 2020, yielding 11 releases.

As Musical America proclaimed early on in his tenure, ” This is no longer George Szell’s orchestra. It is Welser-Möst’s.”