Home > Artists > Susanna Mälkki


Principal Guest Conductor: Gulbenkian Orchestra


Susanna Mälkki’s versatility and broad repertoire have taken her to symphony orchestras, chamber orchestras, contemporary music ensembles and opera houses throughout the world. Guest conducting at the highest level in both Europe and North America, Mälkki’s recent highlights have included performances with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Mostly Mozart Festival in New York, and appearances with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien, hr-Sinfonieorchester, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, and Detroit, Pittsburgh, Gothenburg and Finnish Radio symphony orchestras.

This season sees Mälkki return to the Chicago Symphony, Swedish Radio Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and Helsinki Philharmonic orchestras, as well as to Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai Torino and Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg. She makes her debuts with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, and at the Ravinia Festival (with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra). Future plans include concerts with The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.

A renowned opera conductor, in April 2011 Mälkki made her debut at Teatro alla Scala – the first woman to conduct there in the company’s history – and returns in January 2014. This season she returns to Opéra national de Paris to conduct Janáček’s The Makropulos Case for the house and other forthcoming opera commitments include a return to Finnish National Opera, and debuts at Hamburgische Staatsoper and The Metropolitan Opera.

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"...it was fascinating to see how expressively Mälkki sculpted and coaxed the music with her flowing, graceful movements." (The Classical Review, July 2014)

“When Susanna Mälkki made her Los Angeles Philharmonic debut in 2010 it was hoped — at least by me — that the Finnish conductor would be invited back to show what she could really do. She was. And Sunday afternoon in Walt Disney Concert Hall, she did….Brahms’s Fourth Symphony was a knockout… Mälkki etched lines with a crisp and dry sensibility. She luxuriated in nothing. She brought out details that took the breath away. She demonstrated Brahms as the progressive that Schoenberg had claimed he was. Harmonies felt intended for the 20th century. A too-played symphony was given new life.” (Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, April 2013)

“Ms. Mälkki showed that Strauss, Debussy and Messiaen were demonstrating their skills more than they were testing them in these early pieces, creating music that is confident and deep rather than shallow or brash. Her gripping, polished accounts of the two Strauss tone poems showed them fully formed and forward thinking…. Energetic conducting can often mean, simply, fast. But Ms. Mälkki’s work was never exaggerated in tempo. The vitality came instead from the precision of the orchestra’s playing and the crispness of the musical line, the way that Ms. Mälkki was able to make transitions of speed and mood both surprising and natural.” (Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times, April 2013)

“Mälkki can invest anything she touches with persuasive grandeur…. She managed the music’s flow with serene mastery.” (San Francisco Chronicle, April 2012)

“Finnish guest conductor Susanna Mälkki combined graceful precision and fiery energy throughout the program. Her expressive hands shaped the music and made her intentions abundantly clear to the orchestra, which followed her closely all evening.” (The Seattle Times, April 2012)

"In Ives’ “The Unanswered Question” and “Three Places in New England,” and no less in Strauss’ “Also sprach Zarathustra,” Mälkki displayed an easy brilliance that bespoke intimate understanding of both composers. She also showed a rich technical vocabulary for putting her consistently original ideas across. The CSO answered with an exhilarating performance. It was one of the most remarkable first encounters with a conductor I’ve experienced in a long while.

"Strauss’ richly woven textures, which can sound almost opaque in the wrong hands, shone with a rare transparency in Mälkki’s smartly defined voicings. There was a grand sweep to the sound she drew from the CSO, but also a gratifying intimacy as she allowed woodwinds, brasses and strings to have their moments in the sun. This was polished, boldly assertive and thoroughly musical leadership. It should not be a question of whether but when – indeed, how soon – Mälkki returns to the CSO." (Chicago on the aisle, October 2011)

"Mälkki, music director of Ensemble InterContemporain, managed to not only pull off each work on this demanding program with striking success but sparked the CSO to some of their finest playing of the year. With powerful, richly eloquent, and immaculately balanced performances, Mälkki’s sensational debut is easily the most impressive CSO podium bow of recent seasons.

"As impressive as Mälkki’s direction was in the first half, the thrilling performance of Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra after intermission was finer still. The 42-year-old Finn is a charismatic and dynamic podium presence, leading sans baton with her expressive hands and animated body language, not for self-regarding podium gymnastics but to draw out the music with full force and fervor." (Chicago Classical Review, October 2011)

“Mälkki conducts without a baton and respects transparency. Her rhythmic gestures are precise and energizing.” (Los Angeles Times, November 2010)

"Mälkki’s foundation was a rhythmic energy that constantly percolated underneath the musical surface, producing an unusually fresh rendition of Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony. It was a terrific performance." (Boston Globe, August 2010)

“Mälkki's handling of Ravel's mordant choreographic poem deserved the most hearty clap. The new Finnish star of classical music had controlled the BBC Symphony Orchestra so tightly, the music's sensuous lilt hardening into brash sparkle before roaring balefully toward Hell, with every twinge or layer of colour gleaming.” (The Times, February 2010)

“Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki is an elegant presence on the podium; tall and commanding, she combines strength and decisiveness with balletic grace and expressiveness that hold the eye as her music-making holds the ear.” (St Louis Post-Dispatch, January 2010)



Susanna Mälkki conducts Helsinki Philharmonic in Beethoven's Symphony No.9
Susanna Mälkki returns to Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Susanna Mälkki returns to Opéra national de Paris
Susanna Mälkki appointed Principal Guest Conductor of Gulbenkian Orchestra
Susanna Mälkki conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic
Susanna Mälkki takes over three concerts with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich
Benjamin Schmid and Susanna Mälkki each win Deutschen Schallplattenpreis
Susanna Mälkki conducts Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Susanna Mälkki makes her debut with Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg
Susanna Mälkki returns to BBC Proms with Philharmonia Orchestra
Seven HarrisonParrott Artists appear at Mostly Mozart Festival
Susanna Mälkki conducts two concerts with Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Susanna Mälkki conducts world premiere of Re Orso
Susanna Mälkki receives Pro Finlandia Medal of the Order of the Lion of Finland
Susanna Mälkki conducts three concerts with Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Susanna Mälkki makes her debut with Chicago Symphony Orchestra
HarrisonParrott artists perform in Southbank Centre's Boulez Festival
Susanna Mälkki and Peter Eötvös perform with Lucerne Festival Academy
Susanna Mälkki tours Japan with NHK Symphony Orchestra
Susanna Mälkki conducts Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Susanna Mälkki conducts world premiere at La Scala
Susanna Mälkki conducts three concerts with Boston Symphony Orchestra
Susanna Mälkki debuts with four US orchestras