Hungarian-born conductor Adam Fischer has been active with an unusually wide variety of orchestras and operatic ensembles. He has founded three major festivals, the Haydn Tage in Eisenstadt, Austria, a Gustav Mahler Festival in Kassel, Germany, and the Wagner Days at Budapest's Palace of the Arts. Fischer was born in Budapest on September 9, 1949, and his first name is sometimes written Ádám in the Hungarian manner. The conductor Ivan Fischer is his younger brother, and both sang in the Budapest National Opera children's choir; several other family members were or became conductors.
Reputedly, Adam was attracted to conducting as a child by a performance of Haydn's "Surprise" symphony, which allows the conductor to startle the audience. He studied composition and conducting in Budapest, then moved to Vienna for conducting studies with Hans Swarowsky. He began his operatic career as a répétiteur or coach at the Vienna State Opera, beginning a longstanding association with that company. Fischer held accompaniment posts in Graz, Helsinki, and Karlsruhe, scoring a breakthrough when he filled in for an ailing Karl Böhm in Munich. That led to a series of increasingly important general music director positions at opera houses in Freiburg, Kassel, and Mannheim, Germany, and, in 2007, at the Budapest Opera. He resigned that position three years later in protest against increasing political repression in Hungary. Fischer has also made numerous guest operatic conducting appearances, leading both Italian and German operas, including a complete Wagner Ring cycle at the Bayreuth house in 2002 that brought him a conductor of the year nod from Germany's Opernwelt magazine.