Wolfgang Niessner was born 1953 in Salzburg. He studied conducting, composition and history of music and arts in Vienna and Salzburg. Some of his most influential teachers were Otmar Suitner, Friedrich Cerha, Boguslaw Schäffer, Gernot Gruber.  In 1973 he began studies with Nikolaus Harnoncourt with whom he then worked together until 1993.

He was engaged at theatres in Graz and Salzburg as well as the Salzburg Festival and has also participated in the “Steirischer Herbst” festival. He has gained international recognition for his work with both baroque and contemporary opera. In recent years he has often been called upon to coach Wagner, Strauss and Berg. He has conducted in several European countries and his own compositions have been performed in often Austria as well as abroad.

Wolfgang Niessner has taught at the University Mozarteum Salzburg since 1984 in the departments of conducting, composition and opera. His teaching responsibilities include coaching and directing, dramaturgy, performance practice, solfeggio, theory and practice of early music (1550-1850), vocal music, reading from full score, coaching and playing from figured bass for conductors and composers, and conducting techniques for composers. During the years 1991-2012 he led a seminar for free improvisation/performance/musical theatre for composers, instrumentalists, singers and dancers. 

In 1999 Wolfgang Niessner was a guest professor Aveiro, Portugal.

So far 40 of Wolfgang Niessner students from his coaching class for conductors have been engaged in mid-European theatres.