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Biography

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Anton Zapf was born in Neubau/Bayreuth in Bavaria, Germany, and received his first formal musical training as a chorister under Georg Ratzinger with the renowned Regensburger Domspatzen, where he also studied piano, organ, and counterpoint (Eberhard Kraus). He continued his musical education in Stuttgart, studying organ with Werner Jacob (1973 1. prize at the organ competition of the Musikhochschule, 1978 cultural support prize of the city of Regensburg, 1979 world premiere of Hans Werner Henze' s Toccata senza fuga for organ at SWR Stuttgart) and conducting with Thomas Ungar. A Karl Böhm Fellowship and a scholarship from Rotary International enabled Zapf to study two years in the United States, conducting with Charles Bruck at the University of Hartford and the Pierre Monteux school for conductors and with James Levine at the Met. Anton Zapf has also participated in conducting master classes at the Mozarteum Salzburg with W. Weller and with M. Horvath, also with R. Kubelik, R. Reuter, G. Albrecht and S. Celibidache.


In 1983 Anton Zapf's conducting career began when he was asked to step in at the state opera in Stuttgart and take over a performance of Mozart's Figaro without orchestra rehearsal in the Peter Zadek production. In the same year, Zapf was a prize-winner at the Fitelberg international conducting competition in Katowice, Poland. He has since then been active internationally as a conductor of opera and concert music with more than 60 orchestras in 15 countries. His dedication to contemporary music is documented in numerous premieres and radio recordings with SWR, SR, DR Berlin and WDR. 

He remained as Kapellmeister at the Stuttgart State Theatre from 1983 - 1990, where he conducted besides Figaro for many years also Don Giovanni, L' élisir d' amore, Hänsel und Gretel and Echnaton by Philip Glass. In the Chamber theatre he conducted new productions such as Der Kaiser von Atlantis by Viktor Ullmann (first german performance), Die Feuersbrunst by Joseph Haydn, Cafe Eros by Hubert Stuppner, or Die Gespenstersonate by Aribert Reimann.

After which followed a position as 1. Kapellmeiser at the National Theatre in Mannheim, where he conducted for the first time Wagner (Holländer, Lohengrin) R. Strauß (Josephslegende) and Verismo repertoire.           He made his debut at the Finnish National Opera in Helsinki with Figaro in 1993, and was a regular guest conductor there for three years (Mozart and Verdi repertoire, symphonic concerts). In 1994 he had his debut at the Norwegian Opera in Oslo with The Magic Flute. Important stages in his career have been marked by the operas of Mozart, for which Zapf holds deep affection.        

1999 he was engaged as 1. Kapellmeister at the opera in Bonn, where he had great succes a.o. with La Boheme, Entführung and especially with new productions of Petrushka and Freischütz. ( l. PRESSE).                  In the avantegard series "Bonn Chance" in the Bundeskunsthalle he conducted the world premieres of the opera Königin Ök by Klaus Lang (2002), Besuchszeit by Reinhard Febel (2001), and For Samuel Beckett (2004) by Morton Feldman.   

He has also conducted as guest at the opera houses in Hamburg (Don Giovanni), Dortmund (Entführung, Un ballo in maschera, Carmen,  Braunschweig (Tannhäuser, Barbier) and Paris (Don Giovanni) among many others, and has worked with important directors such as Peter Zadek, Achim Freyer, Peter Palitzsch or Andras Fricsay, and with soloists like Karita Mattila, Anja Harteros, Samuel Ramey, Kurt Moll, Bernd Weikl and the pianist Gregori Sokolov (3. piano concerto by Sergei Rachmaninoff with Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra). 

He has been a regular guest conductor at the Philharmonic Orchestra Hradec Kralové/CZ for many years, which in 2003 also premiered his first composition Ave Maria for soprano and large orchestra, and in 2004 his symphonic fragments in memoriam Antonin. In recent years, he has had commissioned compositions and (first) performances of his works in Germany, Finland, Slovenia, Norway, Austria, Italy and Switzerland. In connection with his hobby of ski jumping, he also created successful compositions in the genre of symphonic rock. 

Since 2010 his works are published by C.F. Peters Verlag.

2009 - 2012 he had the musical leadership of the  Lyric Opernensemble  and conducted very successful new productions of Fledermaus (2009), La Traviata (2011) and Entführung (2012).

2008 - 2012 he was director of the Chorgemeinschaft and Kammerakademie Tutzing, with whom he has been performing besides premieres of own works major pieces from the oratorio repertoire: Vivaldi Gloria, Magnificat, Haydn Mariazeller Mass, Mendelssohn's Elias, Bach's Magnificat and Handel's Messiah.  

Occasionally he is also still giving organ concerts. In 2009 he played Henze's Toccata senza fuga, as well as the premiere of his own Passacaglia for organ in the Mariendom of Munich, which is beeing broadcast by BR Klassik (2012). 

For many years he is regulary guest conductor with the Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Vokalensemble of the SWR Stuttgart, also at international contemporary music festivals like Attacca (2009) or Musica Strasbourg (2011).

In January 2012 he performed his three skijumping songs Love, love, snow, Let's jump and fly and Just like birds (premiere) at the 1. Winter Youth Olympic Games in innsbruck.

In October 2012 he conducted the premiere of his Da pacem Domine for choir and orchestra (commission) with the Regensburger Kantorei and the Satori Ensemble (members of the Bavarian State Orchestra Munich).

Also in October 2012 he had his debut at the North West Opera of Ireland with a new production of the Fledermaus. He also took over a lectureship for orchestra conducting at the Musikhochschule Munich.  

2013 he conducted a performance of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte at the Opera Theatre of Chemnitz, several carneval concerts with his own composition Let's jump and fly with students of the Musikhochschule Munich (BR Klassik). The same piece he performed with the famous Regensburger Domspatzen in a " Mitsing" concert, where he played the challenging piano solo part.

In August he premiered within a Liederabend, where he plays occasionally as an accompanying pianist, his piano solo piece Scintille nel' aria.

October 2013 he conducted a new production of Lehar's The merry widow at the North West Opera Irland. He also took over the B-Orchestra at the University of Music and Performing Arts Munich. 

March 2014 he conducted 6 concertos for organ and orchestra with students of the University of Music and Performing Arts Munich. In May he premiered the orchestra piece Epitaph by Maria Bosareva with the Barock Orchestra of the University of Music and Performing Arts Munich.

May 2014 he conducted  the premier of the opera This New Ocean by Nélida Béjar at the Cuvilliés theatre Munich. In July he conducted this production in Southafrica and had his very successful debut with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra.

2015 he had his debut with the Symphony Orchestra Karlsbad/CZ with works by W.A. Mozart,  A. Dvorak and his own hommage for Dvorak, the symphonic fragments In memoriam Antonin.

For the first time he gave together with Prof. Christoph Adt a conducting intensiv course for students of the Musikhochschule Munich at the Bavarian music academy in Alteglofsheim.

In November he conducted a new production of Hänsel und Gretel at the North West Opera Ireland.

In 2015/16 he is also composer in residence at the monestary Einsiedeln/CH with a commission for a work for two organs. 

In May 2016 he conducted the premiere of the piano concerto Fear by Elena Tarabanova.

Since 2012 he is a regular guest conductor at the Police Orchestra of Bavaria, a professional sinfonic brass orchestra. Many times he  stepped in short termed. 2016 in February with a New Years program and in July at a very successful Open Air concert in Innsbruck with works by Wagner, Humperdinck, Bruckner, R. Strauß, Bernstein and Mahler (Rückertlieder).

In november he conducted again a new production of The Bat at the North West Opera Ireland.

Since September 2016 he stepped in for the Domkapellmeister position at the Liebfrauenkirche in Munich. In this connection he conducted his Da pacem Domine during the "ash wednesday service for artist" 2017, that was broadcasted live at the BR television.

Since his youth he continues to be very active in sports. 2007, 2012, 2014 and 2017 he won gold medals at the International Masters World Championships in skijumping. Since summer 2015 he is playing in the Ehrenliga (over 50) of the FC Bayern München.