The German conductor, Hartmut Haenchen (Hänchen). began his musical career as a member of the Kreuzchor in Dresden. By the age of 15 he was already conducting performances as cantor. As a 17-year-old he attracted widespread attention with his revival of the Requiem by J.A. Hasse.
Hartmut Haenchen studied conducting and voice at the Dresden Hochschule für Musik from 1960 to 1966. Subsequently he attended master-classes in Berlin and at Carinthian Summer Festival in Austria. He also sat in rehearsals for the Bayreuth Festival and for concerts conducted by Herbert von Karajan.
His first engagement was as director of the Robert-Franz-Singakademie (choral society) in Halle and conductor of the Halle Philharmonic Orchestra in 1966. Hartmut Haenchen went on to win first prize at the Carl Maria von Weber Competition in Dresden in 1971. In 1972-1973 Haenchen served as principal Kapellmeister of the Zwickau Theatre. During that period he made his debut at Berlin’s Deutsche Staatsoper, directing Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov. He appeared there regularly until 1986. From 1973 to 1976 he was conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic and a regular guest in the pit of the Dresden Staatsoper. Between 1976 and 1979 he served as music director of the Mecklenburgische Staatskapelle and Staatstheater in Schwerin, a post previously held by Klaus Tennstedt and Kurt Masur, amongst others. Subsequently, he began to make regular appearances at Berlin’s Komische Oper. In 1980 he took over as artistic director of the Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Chamber Orchestra in Berlin, which has since won renown as an outstanding chamber ensemble through numerous prize-winning recordings, television productions and concert tours. Having been appointed professor of the Dresden College of Music, Haenchen became music director of the Netherlands Opera in Amsterdam and principal conductor of the Netherlands Philharmonic and the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra in Amsterdam in 1986.
Hartmut Haenchen has made guest appearances in virtually all the European countries and toured Japan, the USA and Canada. Haenchen has conducted opera in Bologna, Geneva, Jerusalem, London, Munich, New York, Stuttgart, Warsaw, Vienna and Wiesbaden. Two new productions, which he directed at the Royal Opera House in London, were singled out for the Laurence Olivier Award. In 1995 he resumed his association with the Deutsche Staatsoper in Berlin as principal guest conductor.