While many concertgoers and listeners may not quickly recognize the name Thomas Fey, they will find it difficult to avoid it in record stores or on websites that sell classical music recordings. Since the turn of the new century era Fey has been involved in two massive recording projects: in 2000 he began a complete cycle of Haydn's symphonies for the Hänssler label (with a completion date of 2009) and, for the same label he launched a complete set of Beethoven's symphonies in 2001. Fey has also been associated with the music of Mozart, playing and recording much of his music, founding in 2003 both the Mozart Week Festival in Heidelberg and the Mozart Mannheim Orchestra. Fey's supporters are quick to point out the generally positive critical response throughout Europe and the United States to his concerts and recordings. Fey has made most of his recordings for the Hänssler label, and several for Accent, Profil, and Christophorus.
Thomas Fey was born in Germany on November 9, 1960. He studied music and conducting at the University of Music and Performing Arts Mannheim. He later took instruction from Nikolaus Harnoncourt at the Salzburg Mozarteum in historic practices and attended master classes at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival conducted by Leonard Bernstein.
In 1985, still a student, Fey founded the Heidelberg Motet Choir and two years later the Schlierbach Chamber Orchestra. The latter ensemble evolved into the Heidelberg Symphony Orchestra in 1993, and Fey has since served as its principal conductor. It is with this ensemble, whose inaugural concert was given on January 1, 1994, that Fey has made most of his recordings, including those in the Haydn and Beethoven projects.
By the turn of the new century Fey and his Heidelberg group had attracted overwhelming critical praise at home and internationally, establishing a clear raison d'etre for such ambitious recording projects. In 2003 Fey founded an original-instruments Baroque orchestra called Ensemble La Passione. He also founded the aforementioned Mozart Mannheim Orchestra in 2003, which did not give its debut concert until January 27, 2006, to coincide with the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth. With this ensemble Fey also frequently conducts the music of Mozart's lesser contemporaries, including Salieri, Süssmayr, and Holzbauer. Along with the steady stream of Haydn and Beethoven CDs, Fey's recordings include a 2007 disc of concerti grossi by Handel made with Ensemble La Passione for the Accent label.