Klaus Tennstedt (June 6, 1926 – January 11, 1998) was a German conductor from Merseburg; he conducted such orchestras as the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra; Kiel Opera in Northern Germany; North German Radio Orchestra, in Hamburg; the Minnesota Orchestra; and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
He studied violin and piano at the Leipzig Conservatory. He avoided military service during the Nazi era by joining a Baroque orchestra. He became concertmaster of the orchestra at the Halle Municipal Theatre in 1948. However, a finger injury stopped his career as a violinist, and afterwards he worked as a coach to singers at the same theatre. Tennstedt then directed his talents toward conducting. In 1958, he became music director of the Dresden Opera, and in 1962, music director of the Schwerin State Orchestra and Theatre.
Tennstedt emigrated from East Germany in 1971 and obtained asylum in Sweden. He conducted in Gothenburg with the Göteborg Theatre and in Stockholm with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. In 1972, he became General Music Director of the Kiel Opera in Northern Germany. From 1979 to 1981, he served as Chief Conductor of the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra (NDR Symphony) in Hamburg, and during the same period (1979-1982) he was Principal Guest Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra.