Nicholas Carthy was born in Bedford, England. He studied at the Guildhall School of Music with Mary Peppin and John York, and won an Austrian government scholarship to study at the Mozarteum Salzburg with Hans Leygraf.
After completing his studies he became a Kapellmeister at the Landestheater Salzburg where he made his operatic debut conducting Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro”. During this time he was also an assistant at the Salzburg Festival, working closely with both Bernard Haitink and Sir Georg Solti. In April 1990 Daniel Barenboim invited him to assist in the recording of “Don Giovanni” in Berlin with the result that Carthy became Barenboim’s assistant for the next two years working in Chicago for the Mozart/DaPonte series, in Paris on “Wozzeck”, and in Bayreuth. In June 1992, Nicholas Carthy was appointed Musical Director of the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana. Under his stewardship the orchestra received invitations to perform at the Lucerne Festival, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Goldener Musikvereinssaal in Vienna.
As a guest-conductor Nicholas Carthy has worked with orchestras including, Camerata Academica Salzburg, Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg, Königliche Hofkapelle Stockholm, Orchestra RAI di Torino, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra San Carlo di Napoli, Accademia Filarmonica Roma, Orchestra Teatro Reggio Torino, Orchestra Sinfonica del Piemonte, L’Orchestra Filarmonica di Torino, Orchestra di Padua e del Veneto, Wiener Volksopernorchester, Israel Contemporary Players, Stadtorchester Winterthur, RSO Prag, Slowakische Philharmonie, Slowenische Philharmonie, Orquesta de San Sebastian and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia di Roma, where he worked closely with Luciano Berio on several projects; and with soloists including Radu Lupu, Alicia de Larrocha, Natalia Gutman, Viktoria Mullova, Waltraud Meier, Daniela Barcellona, Robert Dean Smith, Wolfgang Holzmair.
He is a passionate advocate of contemporary music and has conducted many first performances including the first Swedish, Israeli, Swiss and Italian performances of Thomas Adès “Powder Her Face”.
Beside his activities as a conductor, Nicholas Carthy is a much sought-after accompanist. He has performed in many of the great halls of the world such as Carnegie Hall, Tokyo Suntory Hall, Wigmore Hall, Bolschoi Theatre, Kölner Philharmonie, Wiener Konzerthaus, La Scala, La Fenice, Santa Cecilia, Gewandhaus Leipzig, Berlin State Opera, and at Festivals in Salzburg, Bad Kissingen, München, Schleswig-Holstein and the Schubertiade in Hohenems.
His work as a musical educator has taken him all over the world. From 1996 to 2002 he was a guest professor at the opera school in Stockholm, 2003 Musical Director of the Portland State University Summer Programme and since 2004 Professor of Music and Opera Music Director at the University of Colorado.He is also the Musical Director of the Helgelands Sinfonietta and the Toppen International Music Festival in Norway. Nicholas Carthy gives master-classes in opera schools and conservatories throughout Europe and the U.S.A, as well as conducting youth orchestra seminars in Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Italy and Norway. He also sits on the Jury of several international piano and singing competitions. Nicholas Carthy broadcasts regularly as conductor and pianist.