Martin T:son Engstroem

Meet our Founder & Director
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Martin Engstroem was born in 1953 in Stockholm. He grew up there and obtained his degree in Music History and Russian at Stockholm University. Moving to Paris in 1975, he became a partner in the artistic agency Opéra et Concert. He also worked closely with Herbert von Karajan for many years. Engstroem moved to Switzerland in 1986. During this period, he was a consultant for EMI France, for the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele and the Opéra national de Paris.

In 1991 he started to put together what in 1994 became the Verbier Festival & Academy for which he remains the artistic and executive head as Founder & Director. In 2000 and 2005, he set up respectively the Verbier Festival Orchestra and the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra. In 2013, a new education project was launched under his initiative, the Verbier Festival Music Camp (today renamed the Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra).

From 1999 to 2003, Engstroem was Vice-President of Deutsche Grammophon for the sector ‘Artists and Repertoire’. Then from 2003 to 2005, he was appointed Senior Executive Producer & Artist Development. During this period, he was responsible for the recordings of Anne-Sophie Mutter, Pierre Boulez, Claudio Abbado and Maurizio Pollini and also signed new artists such as Anna Netrebko, Lang Lang, Yundi Li, Hélène Grimaud, Ilya Gringolts, Hilary Hahn and Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Martin Engstroem has served as jury member for numerous competitions: the Paganini Competition in Genoa, Berlin’s ‘Das Lied’, the Clara Haskil Piano Competition, the Geneva Competition (voice), and the Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv. He has had a long-term relationship with the Tchaikovsky Competition; in 2011 he was a member of the violin jury and in 2015 he was a member of the piano jury; in 2019 he chaired the violin jury.

In June 2011, The Nobel Foundation in Lindau induced Martin T:son Engstroem and Bill Gates to its Honorary Senate. The Foundation thereby recognised “their sustained personal commitment to supporting and encouraging young talents by opening the door to future opportunities.”

In April 2015, Engstroem received the Dmitri Shostakovich Prize at a ceremony held at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, in Moscow. Awarded by the Yuri Bashmet Foundation, the recognition is considered to be one of the most prestigious prizes in the field of Russian art. He is the first laureate of the Dmitri Shostakovich Prize who is not a musician.

Engstroem has also worked as Global Advisor on Artistic Planning for IMG Artists and as consultant for Rolex in developing artistic projects in China and India.

Since 2016 he has been a Board Member of the Macao Festival and, in 2018, became Artistic Director both of the Tsinandali Festival in Georgia and of the Riga Jurmala Festival in Latvia.

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