The Austrian conductor and violinist, Walter Weller, began taking violin lessons at the age of six. His father was a violinist in the Wiener Philharmoniker. Young Weller first gained renown as a prodigy on the violin. At the Vienna Academy of Music, he studied with Professors Ernst Morawec and Franz Samohyl. At the age of 17, he became a member of the Wiener Philharmoniker, and by the unusually early age of 22 he had become joint concertmaster with Willi Boskovsky. He remained in this post for 11 years..
While leading the orchestra, Walter Weller also established and led his own string quartet, the Weller Quartet, from 1958 to 1969. The Quartet achieved great fame through numerous concert tours and festival appearances throughout Europe, Asia and North America. The Weller Quartet’s recordings for Decca Records included Haydn’s complete Op. 33, W.A. Mozart, L.v. Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Alban Berg and Dmitri Shostakovich. Their recordings have been honoured with awards such as the Mozart Interpretationspreis, the Grammy Award (USA), and the Grand Prix du Disque.
In 1966, after having completed his conducting studies with Joseph Krips, Walter Weller made his debut as a conductor, deputising at short notice for Karl Böhm in L.v. Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and Franz Schubert’s Great C Major Symphony and Josef Krips in J. Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Claudio Arrau and L.v. Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony. In 1969, he entered into a long-term contract with the Vienna State Opera, and he conducted regularly also at the Vienna Volksoper, which enabled him to acquire a very extensive operatic repertoire. Walter Weller was General Music Director in Duisberg beginning in the 1971-1972 season, Principal Conductor of Lower Austria's Tonkünstler-Orchester from 1975 to 1978, and Principal Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra from 1977 to 1980, which appointed him "Honorary Guest Conductor" for life following the end of his contract there.
From 1980 to 1986, Walter Weller assumed the leadership of London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, after which he became Principal Guest Conductor of the Orquesta Nacional de España until 1991. From 1991 to 1996, he was Principal Conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, which subsequently appointed him "Conductor Emeritus" for life. Together they have made highly successful tours of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. At the same time, he became General Music Director of the opera organization belonging to Basel's Allgemeine Musikgesellschaft, and was Chief Conductor of the Sinfonieorchester Basel from 1994 to 1997. Weller was bestowed the title of Conductor Laureate to the Stuttgarter Philharmoniker and also held the position of Associate Director with the Orchestra of Valencia, Spain. Since the 2007-2008 season, Walter Weller he held the post of Music Director to the National Orchestra of Belgium and toured to Spain in addition to concerts in Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
Walter Weller worked with all the major European opera houses as a conductor of operas, including the Vienna State Opera, Berlin's opera Unter den Linden, the German Opera of Berlin, the German Opera on the Rhine, the English National Opera, Milan's La Scala, the Scottish Opera, the Opera Bologna, and many others.
His operatic engagements have included Der Fliegende Holländer at La Scala, Ariadne auf Naxos and Der Fliegende Holländer for English National Opera, a new production of Der Freischütz at Teatro Comunale, Bologna, a new production of Prince Igor for Berlin Staatskapelle, and Fidelio and Der Rosenkavalier for Scottish Opera. In February 2004 he conducted a new production of Cosi Fan Tutte with Opera de Monte-Carlo, directed by John Cox, and returned for Der Rosenkavalier in 2006-2007.
Walter Weller was regularly invited as guest conductor by major orchestras throughout the world and worked with the London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle, Radio-Symphonie-Orchester-Berlin, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Orchestre de Paris, Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, and had a regular relationship with both RTVE Madrid and Trondheim Symphony Orchestra. Walter Weller was able to score a rare coup during a L.v. Beethoven Symphony series in London, in which he conducted the world premiere of the fragment from L.v. Beethoven's Symphony No. 10, in the Cooper arrangement. Forthcoming highlights include L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestras. In the North America, Walter Weller worked with many of the most prominent orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Festivals and orchestra tours throughout Europe, Japan and East Asia round out this long list of engagements.
Walter Weller's extensive discography includes recordings with Decca, EMI, Ars Musici, Collins Classics, Camerata Tokyo and Chandos Records with whom he recorded all the L.v. Beethoven symphonies (including L.v. Beethoven Symphony No. 10) with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. With the National Orchestra of Belgium he recorded Glazunov's Symphony No. 5 and Strauss' Ein Heldenleben for the Fuga Libera label. Many of these recordings received record awards including the Grand Prix du Disque and the Charles Cros Award for French Music. These, along with recordings for broadcasting, form another important focus of Weller's musical activities. Weller’s recording début as a conductor was with L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, in D. Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 1 and Symphony No. 9. His Decca cycle of the Sergei Prokofiev symphonies with the London Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Orchestra has remained available on LP and CD.
Walter Weller was a of the Mozart Interpretationspreis, Salzburg. On the December 22, 1998, Walter Weller was awarded the Great Silver Cross of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria, which in the past has also been awarded to Josef Krips and Herbert von Karajan. The Beethovengesellschaft in Vienna awarded him the "Golden Beethoven Medal". The American Biographical Institute awarded him the "Gold Medal of Honor for Extraordinary Occupational Activities", and in 1999 the International Biographical Centre Cambridge (England) honored Walter Weller with the Gold Medal for "Outstanding People of the 20th Century". In Scotland, Walter Weller received the special distinction of being pictured on the currently circulating 50-pound note.