“A born musician…” (Chaya Czernowin, Composer)

“I must recommend this young conductor.” (Thomas Søndergård , Music Director | Royal Scottish National Orchestra) 

“Here it is Kai Johannes Polzhofer who leads the ensemble with undulating and dreamy melody lines, and the emotionality of Puccini’s operatic expression is given free rein.” (Göteborgs Posten) 

The future of New Music is in best hands.” (BR Klassik | Bavarian Broadcast)

“A bright exponent of a new generation of conductors.”  (Aleksander V. Alexeev †, Conductor | Honored Artist of the RSFSR) 

“Kai Johannes Polzhofer lives and breathes music. […] One of the most interesting students, I have encountered in the conducting class.” (Michael Schønwandt, Conductor | National Soloist Class)   

Professional Education

Saint Petersburg State Conservatory N. Rimsky-Korsakov (Spezialist)

Hochschule für Musik und Theater Leipzig F. Mendelssohn Bartholdy (Diplom)

Royal Danish Academy of Music (National Soloist Class)

Harvard University (PhD)


Austrian-German conductor and composer Kai Johannes Polzhofer has lived many years in Central Europe, USA, Russia, Scandinavia, whereby he understood that keeping faith with the excellence of classical musical traditions is a key of social transformation and can bring people together in a globalized world. Therefore he founded in 2015 the Du Bois Orchestra at Harvard (in order to fight racism, class- and gender discrimination through classical music), as well the Kandinsky Orchestra Petersburg (whereby he worked with local musicians and dancers on interdisciplinary performances and curated concerts of innovative and diverse contemporary repertoire for Russia). 


Finalist of Only Stage Conducting Competition 2022, and Semi-finalist of Kussewitzky Conducting Competition 2021, hwas already selected for masterclasses with Daniele Gatti, Jorma Panula, Paavo and Neeme Järvi even before taking up his studies in orchestra and opera conducting. His music has been internationally broadcast (Austrian Broadcast Ö1, Bavarian Broadcast BR Klassik, Estonian National Radio, Radio Russia), and he worked with leading ensembles of the contemporary music scene such as Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet, Ensemble Recherche, and the JACK Quartet, the “nation’s most important quartet” (The New York Times). As a conductor he was recently engaged at State Opera Munich, and worked among others with members of Deutsche Oper Berlin and Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, as well with soloists, chorus and orchestra of Gothenburg Opera, the Århus Symphony Orchestra, South Denmark Philharmonic, Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra, Aalborg Symphony Orchestra, Odense Symphony Orchestra, the Symphony Orchestra of the Rimsky-Korsakov St. Petersburg Opera and Ballet Theatre, and with soloists of the Mariinsky Theatre Petersburg. Among others he assisted conductors Ilan Volkov, Fabio Luisi, Leonid Grin, and Thomas Søndergård.

Before Mr. Polzhofer was selected for the competitive National Soloist Program of Denmark in Orchestra Conducting (under the guidance of Per-Otto Johansson and Michael Schønwandt), he studied orchestra and operatic conducting at the prestigious Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory Saint Petersburg with Alexander Alexeev †. Earlier he graduated with honors both in composition and philosophy from Musikhochschule Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Leipzig and University Leipzig. His principal composition teachers are renown composers Chaya Czernowin, Klaus Lang, Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf, and Steven Takasugi. He has always been inspired by putting music in a broader cultural context, therefore he regularly publishes articles in these fields, and released in 2016 the book “Perspectives for Contemporary Music in the 21st Century”. Further he taught at the Music Department of Harvard University, and worked as lecturer at the philosophy department of University Leipzig. In addition he has been awarded with the “Certificate of Distinction in Teaching” at Harvard University, where he completed his PhD in composition. During his time  in Leipzig he was initiator and artistic advisor of forma Leipzig (fostering dialogue between contemporary music and literature).

Among others Kai Johannes Polzhofer received a stipend from Bayreuther Festspiele (supported by Wagner Society Vienna), a National Stipend in Germany (Deutschlandstipendium), and was awarded a full scholarship from Harvard University allowing him to obtain his Doctorate. He is supported by the Monsignore Fellerer Arts Foundation as well the Stiftunglife Foundation. Since 2013 his compositions are published by Edition Gravis (Berlin).