Fischer has signed a three-year contract starting with the 2006-07 season. He will lead the NSO for two weeks in 2006-07 and a minimum of three weeks in the two subsequent seasons.
The second year of Fischer's tenure will coincide with NSO music director Leonard Slatkin's final season with the orchestra; the Washington Post suggests that the orchestra is at the very least "taking a serious look at Fischer" for Slatkin's job.
Born in Hungary, Fischer studied in Budapest and Vienna; he launched his conducting career in 1976 when he won London's Rupert Foundation conducting competition. Seven years later, he founded the Budapest Festival Orchestra and rapidly established the group as a world-class ensemble. He has also served as principal guest conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony and music director of the Op_ra National de Lyon, Northern Sinfonia, and Kent Opera.
Fisher guest-conducted the NSO in 1999 and again in 2002.
"The members of the National Symphony Orchestra have thoroughly enjoyed Maestro Fischer's previous appearances, and expressed eagerness in having him return," said NSO chair Ann Jordan. "When National Symphony representatives spoke with Maestro Fischer, we were pleased to learn that we had a mutual interest in a principal guest conductorship."
Fischer will be the NSO's first principal guest conductor since 1986, when Raphael Fr‹hbeck de Burgos completed a six-year term. The position was previously held by James DePreist and Antal Doršti, who became principal guest conductor after completing his tenure as music director in 1977.