Born on 5 March 1952 in Hamburg. School in Aachen and Hamburg. 1971 to 1979 studies of philosophy, mathematics and linguistics in Hamburg and Constance. BA and MA in philosophy, dissertation in philosophy of science (Theory of Action and Developmental Logic).
First violin lessons at the age of nine. Member of several youth orchestras. Scholarship for the World Youth Symphony Orchestra at Interlochen/Michigan. Concertmaster and speaker of the Bundesjugendorchester (National Youth Orchestra).
1974 foundation of the Bundesstudentenorchester - Junge Deutsche Philharmonie (National Student Orchestra), acting as its speaker and manager; participating as violinist until 1980. Managing Director of the orchestra from 1979 to 1987, with offices based in Freiburg and from 1984 in Frankfurt.
1980 foundation of the Ensemble Modern and the Chamber Orchestra of the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, with the Ensemble Modern becoming a fully professional ensemble in Frankfurt in 1985, followed by the Chamber Orchestra in 1987, now under the name of Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie. 1986 to 1990 Managing Director of the German section of the International Society of Contemporary Music (ISCM).
1987 foundation of the Deutsche Ensemble Akademie, a common funding association for the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie and the now independent Ensemble Modern and Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie in Frankfurt. Managing Director of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie until 1989 and of the Deutsche Ensemble Akademie and Ensemble Modern until 1991.
1991 to 1996 General Secretary of the Vienna Konzerthaus. At the same time president of the festival Wien Modern, member of the European Concert Halls Organisation ECHO (foundation in 1991), Governor of the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and of the Vienna Festival. Foundation of the Vienna Spring Festival and the Austrian contemporary music festival Hörgänge in 1992, of the early music festival Resonanzen in 1994 and of the Viennese festival Film&Musik in 1995. Start of the nationwide music education project Klangnetze in 1993. Major renovation plans for the Konzerthaus.
1995 speaker of the Advisory Committee for the restructuring of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival. 1995/1996 lecturer in Cultural Management at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna.
1996 to 1999 President of the Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft in Hamburg. Restructuring of the company, launch of the 20/21 series, release of the complete Beethoven edition, celebration of DG’s 100th anniversary in 1998.
Since 1999 Governor of the Deutsche Ensemble Akademie. 1999/2000 member of the Culture Commission NRW in Europe, appointed by the Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia.
1999 to 2002 Chief Executive of the Southbank Centre (Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elisabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery) in London. Master plan for the Southbank Centre, renovation plan for the Royal Festival Hall, celebration of the 50th birthday of the Royal Festival Hall in 2001.
2000 to 2002 Governor of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. 2001 to 2008 curator of the newly founded Allianz Kulturstiftung; Launch of its International Conductors Academy with the Philharmonia Orchestra/Christoph von Dohnanyi and London Philharmonic Orchestra/Kurt Masur in 2003.
Since 2002 projects with Shaksfin Asia in Singapore, including the start of the first major Asian contemporary music festival in Taipei (April 2003/January 2004).
2002 Artistic Advisor of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. 2002 to 2013 Governor of the Vienna Konzerthaus. 2003 advisor to the Hungarian Culture Minister for the planning of the Palace of Arts in Budapest.
2004 start of Karsten Witt Musik Management (artists management, projects, consulting) in Berlin.
2004/2005 lecturer at the University of Zurich for the Executive Master in Arts Administration programme. 2005 to 2008 Artistic Advisor of the Athens Concert Hall, Megaron. 2006 to 2009 Governor of the International Artist Managers' Association (IAMA). 2007 member of the international advisory committee of the Ministry of Culture of Latvia for the planning of a new National Concert and Conference Centre in Riga. 2008 visiting professor in cultural management at Tokyo University. 2008 to 2010 project manager for the planned Beethoven Festspielhaus in Bonn.
Awards: Österreichisches Ehrenkreuz für Wissenschaft und Kunst from the Republic of Austria in 1996, Silbernes Ehrenzeichen für Verdienste um das Land Wien from the City of Vienna in 1997, Kleinkreuz des Verdienstordens of the Republic of Hungary in 1999.