Simone Margaret Young AM (born 2 March 1961) is an Australian conductor. She was born in Sydney, of Irish ancestry on her father's side and Croatian ancestry on her mother's side.[1] Young was educated at the Monte Sant' Angelo Mercy College in North Sydney. She studied composition, piano and conducting at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Simone Young

Simone Young 2010 - Portrait by Bertold Fabricius.jpg
Background information
Birth nameSimone Margaret Young
Born (1961-03-02) 2 March 1961 (age 58)
Sydney, Australia
GenresClassical, opera
Years active1985-present


Commencing in 1983, Young worked at Opera Australia as a répétiteur under various conductors, including Charles Mackerras, Richard Bonynge, Carlo Felice Cillario and Stuart Challender. Young started her operatic conducting career at the Sydney Opera House in 1985. In 1986 she was the first woman and youngest person to be appointed a resident conductor with Opera Australia. She received an Australia Council grant to study overseas, and was named Young Australian of the Year.[2] In her early years, she was assistant to James Conlon at the Cologne Opera, and to Daniel Barenboim at the Berlin State Opera and the Bayreuth Festival. From 1998 until 2002, Young was principal conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in Norway.

From 2001 to 2003, Young was chief conductor of Opera Australia in Sydney. Her contract was not renewed after 2003, with one given reason being the excessive expense of her programming ideas.[3]

Young made her first conducting appearance at the Hamburg State Opera in 1996. In May 2003, she was named both chief executive of the Hamburg State Opera and chief conductor of the Philharmoniker Hamburg, posts which she assumed in 2005.[4] In 2006, she became Professor of Music and Theatre at the University of Hamburg. Critics of the magazine Opernwelt selected her in October 2006 as the Dirigentin des Jahres (Conductor of the Year). In December 2011, it was announced that Young would conclude her tenures with both the Hamburg State Opera and the Hamburg Philharmonic after the 2014/2015 season.[5]

Young was the first female conductor at the Vienna State Opera in 1993.[4] She conducted the Sydney Symphony Orchestra when they performed Elena Kats-Chernin's "Deep Sea Dreaming" at the 2000 Summer Olympics opening ceremony in Sydney.[6] In November 2005, she was the first female conductor to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic.[7] Her discography includes all the symphonies of Anton Bruckner and the complete Ring Cycle of Richard Wagner; she was the first woman to have recorded either of these cycles. She has also recorded the complete cycle of Brahms' symphonies.

In August 2008, Young appeared as part of the judging panel in the reality TV talent show-themed program Maestro on BBC Two.[8]

In December 2012 she was voted Limelight magazine's Music Personality of the Year.[9]

In the major operatic anniversary year 2013, Young conducted the entire 'Bayreuth canon' of ten Wagner operas at a festival entitled 'Wagner-Wahn' in Hamburg, along with three rarely performed Giuseppe Verdi operas as a trilogy in September to November - La battaglia di Legnano, I due Foscari, I Lombardi alla prima crociata.[10]

In March 2016, Young was appointed a member of the board of the European Academy of Music Theatre.[11]

Young had first guest-conducted the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 1996. In December 2019, the Sydney Symphony announced the appointment of Young as its next chief conductor, effective in 2022, with an initial contract of 3 years.[12] Young is the first female conductor to be named chief conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.[13]

Personal lifeEdit

Young is married and has two daughters. She notably made her first appearance at the Metropolitan Opera while she was five months pregnant and conducted at the Vienna State Opera one month prior to giving birth in 1997.[14]

Honours and AwardsEdit

Young has received honorary doctorates from the Universities of New South Wales, Sydney and Melbourne. She has been appointed a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres of France. On 26 January 2004, in the Australia Day Honours, Young was named a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) "for service to the arts as a conductor with major opera companies and orchestras in Australia and internationally". Simone Young was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2001.[15]

Selected discographyEdit



  • Simone Young: Die Dirigentin: Ein portrat, Ralf Pleger, Hamburg, Europaische Verlagsanstalt, 2006 (text in German)


  1. ^ "Simone Young Australian conductor of Croatian mother and Irish father". Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Australian of the Year Awards". Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  3. ^ Katrina Strickland (27 May 2005). "OA turns corner on debt". The Australian. Retrieved 6 April 2008.
  4. ^ a b John Carmody (16 December 2005). "Sensitive autocrat in a season of content". The Australian. Retrieved 6 April 2008.
  5. ^ "Simone Young will 2015 an der Staatsoper aufhören". Hamburger Abendblatt (in German). 8 December 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
  6. ^ "Simone Young : Australian Music Centre". Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  7. ^ "Simone Young to conduct Vienna Philharmonic". The Sydney Morning Herald. 9 November 2005. Retrieved 4 January 2007.
  8. ^ "Eight passionate amateurs bid to become BBC Two's Maestro" (Press release). BBC. 23 May 2008. Retrieved 24 May 2008.
  9. ^ Limelight Awards: 2012 Winners Announced!, 17 December 2012; Retrieved 11 April 2013
  10. ^ Canning, Hugh. Report from Hamburg. Opera, February 2014, Vol 65 No 2, p185-7.
  11. ^ Simone Young new Member of the Board, 16 March 2016; Retrieved 16 March 2016
  12. ^ "Simone Young announced as the next Chief Conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra" (Press release). Sydney Symphony Orchestra. 14 December 2019. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  13. ^ Morris, Linda (14 December 2019). "Simone Young named new chief conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  14. ^ Blair Tindall (14 January 2005). "Call Me Madame Maestro". The New York Times.
  15. ^ Victorian Honour Roll of Women (PDF). Victorian Government. 2018. p. 36. ISSN 2209-1130.
  16. ^ Pleger, Ralf (11 January 2019). "Simone Young : to Hamburg from downunder". Retrieved 11 January 2019 – via Trove.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Simone Young at Wikimedia Commons

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Dmitri Kitayenko
Principal Conductor, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Succeeded by
Andrew Litton
Preceded by
Richard Bonynge
Music Director, Opera Australia
Succeeded by
Richard Hickox
Preceded by
Ingo Metzmacher
Music Director, Hamburg State Opera
Succeeded by
Kent Nagano