One of the most versatile individuals in the Croatian music world, Mladen Tarbuk conducts both the concert and the opera repertoire in addition to composing works for solo instruments, orchestra and the musical stage. He also teaches at the Zagreb Academy of Music.
During his intendancy between 2002 and 2005, the Croatian National Theatre entered the flow of Europe's cultural life with major productions of Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, Don Carlo, Tristan und Isolde, La Bayadère and Romeo and Juliet. In addition to touring with the Croatian Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra, he has also recorded numerous albums of Croatian and classical music with them.
In the course of his concert tours, he has conducted several Hungarian orchestras – including the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the MÁV Symphony Orchestra, and the Kodály Philharmonic Debrecen – and various renowned ensembles in Sweden, Canada, Italy, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Germany and elsewhere. One high point in his career as a conductor came in 2008, when he conducted the Wiener Concert-Verein at Vienna's Musikverein in a programme of works by Mozart and Haydn, together with his own composition Sebastian im Traum.
Between 2004 and 2009, he was a permanent guest conductor with Düsseldorf's Deutsche Oper am Rhein, where he conducted an extremely diverse repertoire that encompassed Die Entführung aus dem Seraglio as well as Il trittico, Puccini's set of three one-acts, and Catalani's La Wally.
He served as music director of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival from 2013 until 2014, and as its artistic director between 2014 and 2017. As a professor at the University of Zagreb, he initiated major projects that allowed talented young adults, in collaboration with the university's music, drama and fine arts departments, to stage operas in such venues as the Croatian National Theatre and the Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall.
Tarbuk has written more than 80 works for chamber and symphonic ensembles alike, with many of them being performed at such prestigious contemporary music festivals as Bucharest's George Enescu Festival, Munich's Euromusicale, the Zagreb Biennale and Musicora in Paris.
His work has been recognised with several distinctions, including the Janáček, Papandopulo, Šulek and Slavenski Awards.
His upcoming schedule includes appearances with the Kraków Philharmonic Orchestra and the Lublin Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as with Sweden's Nordic Chamber Orchestra in Chestertown, Maryland, in the United States.