Violin • Conductor
• Born 1957
Austrian conductor and violinist Michi Gaigg has been a major force in the historical performance movement across Europe, having directed two important ensembles and led important performances of Baroque opera.
Gaigg was born in Schörfling am Attersee, Austria, on April 22, 1957. As a violin student at the Salzburg Mozarteum, she attended lectures given by Austrian historical performance pioneer Nikolaus Harnoncourt and switched to Baroque violin, studying with Ingrid Seifert and Sigiswald Kuijken. As a violinist she was a member of ensembles in various countries and worked with top conductors including Alan Curtis, Christopher Hogwood, René Jacobs, Frans Brüggen, and Ton Koopman. Gaigg has lived in Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, and France, but returned to Austria in the early 1990s. In 1983 she founded the ensemble L'Arpa Festante in Munich, remaining its director until 1995. The following year she and oboist and recorder player Carin van Heerden established L'Orfeo Barockorchester, which has enjoyed a strong reputation Europe-wide.
Gaigg's interests as a conductor extend well forward into the Classical period and even beyond. Her debut recording with the orchestra, in 1996, was an album of symphonies by the little-recorded Viennese composer Georg Monn, a significant predecessor to Haydn and Mozart. That recording, like many others by the group, was made for Germany's CPO label. For CPO she recorded the 12 String Symphonies by the young Felix Mendelssohn in two volumes, appearing in 2015 and 2017. As her career has advanced, Gaigg has conducted performances of Baroque and Classical operas, many of them historically neglected such as Handel's first opera, Almira, Queen of Castille; Haydn's The Desert Island; and Romeo und Julie of Georg Anton Benda. Her performance of Mozart's Betulia Liberata, K. 118, was recorded and released by Challenge Classics. She has also recorded a rare trilogy of early Rossini operas.
Gaigg taught at the Strasbourg Conservatory in France in the late 1980s. Since 1993 she has been on the faculty at the Institute for Early Music at the Anton Bruckner Private University in Linz.