Born in Lübeck, he studied piano with Günter Ludwig and David Levine and conducting with Volker Wangenheim at the conservatoires of Cologne and Düsseldorf. As a pianist he won several international chamber music competitions and performed regularly as a concert soloist before concentrating exclusively on conducting. After attending masterclasses with Leonard Bernstein, Sergiu Celibidache, and John Eliot Gardiner and working as a répétiteur and principal conductor at several theatres (Brussels’s Théâtre de la Monnaie, Basel, and Lübeck), he worked with leading symphony orchestras in Germany and abroad, including the Tübingen Sinfonietta which he led in 1988–96. In 1997–2007 he was the artistic director of the Contemporary Opera in Berlin, where he premiered works by Henze, Kagel, Battistelli, Feldman, Reimann, Hölszky, Martin, Sciarrino, Maxwell Davies, Rihm, and Holliger. He has appeared as a guest conductor notably with the Österreichisches Ensemble für Neue Musik at the Salzburg Festival. Recently, he has directed the first performance of Sarah Nemtsov’s L’absence at the Munich Biennale. In 2013, he conducted London’s Philharmonia Orchestra. He has appeared regularly with leading ensembles and orchestras in South Korea (notably at the Tongyeong Festival, Seoul Philharmonic, and Seongnam Philharmonic) and Japan (Next Mushroom Promotion, Takefu Festival, and Kobe Chamber Orchestra).
Since 2003 Rüdiger Bohn is the artistic director of the European Workshop for Contemporary Music. He is professor of conducting at the Robert Schumann Hochschule für Musik in Düsseldorf. He has always been passionate about cooperating with composers, including Beat Furrer, Toshio Hosokawa, Isabel Mundry, Wolfgang Rihm, José María Sánchez-Verdú, and Hans Zender. In 2017 Rüdiger Bohn was awarded the Honour Medal of the City of Warsaw.