Georg Christoph Biller (20 September 1955 - 27 January 2022) was a German choral conductor.
He conducted the Thomanerchor as the sixteenth Thomaskantor since Johann Sebastian Bach from 1992 to 2015. He was also a baritone, an academic teacher, and a composer. Active as Thomaskantor after the German reunification, Biller returned the Thomanerchor to its original focus on church music. He was instrumental in the new buildings for the choir's boarding school, the Forum Thomanum, and in the celebration of its 800th anniversary in 2012.
Born in Nebra, the son of a pastor, Biller grew up with three siblings. At age 10, he joined the Thomanerchor in Leipzig, living in its boarding school. He was a member from 1965 to 1974, with Erhard Mauersberger and Hans-Joachim Rotzsch. As Chorprafekt, he assisted in conducting.
He studied at the Hochschule fur Musik und Theater "Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy" Leipzig from 1976 until 1981, orchestral conducting with Rolf Reuter and Kurt Masur, and voice with Bernd Siegfried Weber.In 1976, Biller founded the Leipziger Vokalkreis (later: Leipziger Vocalensemble [de]) which he conducted into the 1990s.In 1980, he became choral conductor at the Gewandhaus and lecturer of choral conducting at the Kirchenmusikschule Halle.In 1982, Biller obtained his diploma in orchestral conducting from the Internationale Sommerakademie Mozarteum Salzburg. After German reunification, he was a lecturer for choral conducting at the Hochschule fur Musik Detmold and at the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts.
Biller (right) as conductor of the Thomanerchor with Robert Schneider at a reading at the Thomaskirche in 2008
In November 1992, Biller was appointed Thomaskantor as the 16th successor of Bach in this position. Biller returned the Thomanerchor to the original focus on church music, which had been neglected while Leipzig was in East Germany; he established the choir in the liturgy of the Lutheran service and reintroduced Motette, a type of musical vespers service, in the Thomaskirche. The choir performed regularly three times a week there, Motette every Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, typically including a Bach cantata for the liturgical occasion, and Sunday service. In 2009, he began performances of the six cantatas of Bach's Christmas Oratorio in St. Thomas and St. Nicholas in services for the feast days of the Christmas season as Bach had intended 275 years earlier.
From 2002, Biller was instrumental in the concept and new buildings for the boarding school of the Thomanerchor, the Forum Thomanum as a musical education campus (musikalischer Bildungscampus). In 2012, Biller celebrated the 800th anniversary of the Thomanerchor. The internationally recognised event, prepared from 2008, was a highlight of his tenure as Thomaskantor. It exposed works by Bach, but also by Biller. He resigned as Thomaskantor in January 2015 for health reasons.
In January 1994, Biller was appointed professor of choral conducting at the Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Hochschule. In 1996, he became a member of the Sachsische Akademie der Kunste (Academy of Arts of Saxony).
Biller was married to the actress Ute Loeck. He suffered from depression and a serious neurological disease that increasingly limited his motion, and was bound to a wheelchair from 2019. In the last months of his life, he exchanged thoughts with Andreas Reize, the new Thomaskantor, sure that Reize would continue his work with the choir. Biller died on 27 January 2022, at the age of 66.
In 2000 he prepared the Thomanerchor for a collaboration with the Knabenchor Hannover for a recorded performance in Hannover of Bach's St Matthew Passion.
In 2009 he initiated that the cantatas of Bach's Christmas Oratorio were performed in St. Thomas and St. Nicholas in services for the six feast days of the Christmas season as Bach had intended it 275 years earlier.
On Good Friday 2010 he conducted Bach's St Matthew Passion in the Thomaskirche with Martin Petzold as the Evangelist, Klaus Mertens (words of Jesus), Ute Selbig, Britta Schwarz, Martin Lattke, Thomas Laske, the Thomanerchor and the Gewandhausorchester.
J. S. Bach: Matthaus-Passion, Martin Petzold, Andreas Schmidt, Monika Frimmer, Bogna Bartosz, Olaf Bar, Thomanerchor & Gewandhaus Kinderchor, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, conductor Georg Christoph Biller, Unitel 1998
J. S. Bach: Johannes-Passion, Marcus Ullmann, Gotthold Schwarz, Ruth Holton, Matthias Rexroth, Henryk Bohhm, Thomanerchor, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, conductor Georg Christoph Biller, Rondeau 2007