Dirk Kaftan conductor born 1971

Dirk Kaftan conductor born 1971

Dirk Kaftan, Chief Conductor in Graz/Austria since 2013,  in his work combines an intensive dedication and commitment with and for the well known Opera house of Graz, as well as numerous guesting activities which allow him to work with well-known orchestras in Europe and abroad.

Dirk Kaftan conductor born 1971

Dirk Kaftan conducted as GMD (chief conductor) various new productions with the Augsburg Philharmonic Orchestra, such as Don Carlos, Turandot, Lulu, Der Ferne Klang, Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, Tristan und Isolde, Carmen, Ritter Blaubart of Reznicek, Don Giovanni and many more. Furthermore he is also responsible for the Symphony-Concert-Series of the Philharmonic Orchestra, which consists of eight programmes every season, as well as for  the Music-Theatre Youth-Programm.

Special concerts

Numerous intercultural, unconventional special concerts and different approaches to convey music, result into a stronger relationship between the opera house, the Graz Philharmonic Orchestra, the audience and the whole society. He furthermore, together with his orchestra, aroused nationwide attention,  with various CD productions and increased guest appearances.

For his work as Opera Conductor, Dirk Kaftan has repeatedly been nominated in the specialist Journal „Opernwelt“ as  Conductor of the year. In 2014 he won the ”Karl-Böhm music prize which is awardes by the Austrian government every three years.


Dirk Kaftan grew up in Wittlich (Eifel). Since early years music was a part of his life : as trumpetplayer and pianist  he was musically versatilely active. In his homeland he received the cultural award of  the county Bernkastel-Wittlich in 2012.

After finishing his piano studies with Josef Ehses and Tatjana Klimova, he assumed his first position as répétiteur in 1990, at the early age of 18, at the Stadttheater Trier (Local Theatre).  He subsequently finished his studies as tonmeister/sound editor at the „Musikhochschule Detmold“ (University of Music) including Conducting with Joachim Harder and Karl-Heinz Bloemecke.

Classical Kapellmeister career

Already during his studies, he was répétiteur at  Theatre Bielefeld, then second Kapellmeister at the „Städtischen Bühnen Münster“. During this time he acquired his skills as conductor together with a very broad repertoire.

Also during his studies, he won the competition of the Austrian-Hungarian Masterclasses for Music in Budapest in 1995. During the course of his work with numerous youth orchestras, for example the „Studentenorchester Münster“, the Orchestra Academy of the „Mosel-Festwochen“ or the „LJO Saarland“, he remained very interested in the further development of the traditional Concert-Forms, and in experimenting with the various possibilities of communicating through music.

His encounter with the „Orquestra Simon Bolívar, of the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, during a Concert Tour, had a very big influence in his life.

As first Kapellmeister in Bielefeld, Dortmund and Graz, he worked together with numerous important Stage Directors, such as: Alexander Schulin, Stefan Herheim, Marco Arturo Marelli, Peter Konwitschny, Christine Mielitz, Andreas Homoki, Philipp Himmelmann and Tatjana Gürbaca.

Guest Appearances

In 2008 Dirk Kaftan lead the revival of the Opera „Freischütz“ at the „Deutsche Oper Berlin“, thereafter Il Trovatore,Tosca and Die Lustige Witwe at the Semperoper Dresden. He furthermore conducted at the Komischen Oper, Berlin,  as well as the theatres in Bonn, Mannheim, Montpellier, Innsbruck, St. Gallen, Freiburg, at Teatro Bellini Catania and Teatro Principal (Palma de Mallorca).

After his  success with his debut of the „Fledermaus“ in Vienna, 2010, his interpretation and new production of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro in Autumn 2012, at the „Volksoper“ in Vienna, directed by Marco Arturo Marelli, was enthusiastically accepted by the critics and the audience.

As Concert-Conductor, he has performed and worked with various orchestras such as the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra, the State Philharmonic Orchestra Nürnberg, the Symphony Orchestra Catania, the Vienna Concert Association (Wiener Concertverein), the Gran Canaria Philharmonic, the Bremer Philharmonic, the Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne, the Hungarian Symphony Orchestra Budapest, the Philharmonic Südwestfalen, the Jenaer Philharmonic, the State Philharmonic Orchestra Rheinland-Pfalz, the Nordwestdeutschen Philharmonic, the DSO Berlin, the Berlin Symphonic Orchestra and the State Music Ensemble/Chapel Halle.

In 2011 he conducted the biggest Classical Open Air Concert in Germany with the State Philharmonic Orchestra Nürnberg, during which a recording was made by the BR (Bavarian Broadcasting Company).

In 2013 Dirk Kaftan was conducting his Asian-Debut with Swan Lake in Taipei, together with the State Orchestra of Taiwan. In 1914 he was invited with the Graz Philharmonic for two concerts at the Tainan Arts festival in Taiwan.

Upcoming invitations will lead him to the Opra house Copenhagen, Hannover State Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and further more.

In English

Dirk Kaftan (born 1971) is a German opera and concert conductor.


Born in Marburg, Germany, Kaftan grew up in Wittlich and Canada. At the age of 18 he began employment as a repetiteur at the Theater Trier. Kaftan then studied sound engineering (Tonmeister) at the Hochschule für Musik Detmold.

Kaftan was Erster Kapellmeister at the Graz Opera from 2006 to 2009. From 2009 to 2014 he was Generalmusikdirektor (GMD) in Augsburg. His contract with the Theater Augsburg was to have run till 2016; however he vacated the Augsburg post early to return to Graz Opera as their GMD.  His debut in June 2013 was a performance of Schönberg’s Gurre-Lieder with soloists, the expanded opera chorus, the Wiener Singverein and the Grazer Philharmonisches Orchester.  Kaftan was GMD of Graz Opera from 2013 to 2017.

In Graz, his repertoire included Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, Puccini’s La Rondine, Zemlinsky’s Der Zwerg, Dallapiccola’s Der Gefangene and Bernstein’s West Side Story, among others. In concert he conducted the oratorio Columbus by Heinrich von Herzogenberg.  In 2015 Kaftan was awarded the Karl Böhm Interpretationspreis by the Styrian state government for his work in developing the Grazer Philharmonisches Orchester.

Kaftan’s operatic repertoire has also included Wagner’s Der fliegende HolländerLohengrinTannhäuser and Die Walküre; Verdi’s RigolettoLa TraviataAida and Don Carlos; Tchaikovsky’s Eugen OneginArabella by Richard Strauss; and Stravinsky’s ballet Le sacre du printemps.
In February 2016, Kaftan was named as the next GMD of the city of Bonn, including the directorship of the Beethoven Orchester Bonn, effective August 2017 with an initial contract of five years.  In September 2020, the city of Bonn announced the extension of Kaftan’s contract as GMD through 2027.


Kaftan’s recordings include the operas Der ferne Klang by Franz Schreker, recorded live in Augsburg in 2011, and Jenůfa by Leoš Janáček, recorded during staged performances in Graz in 2015.

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