Christian Tetzlaff

Lucerne Symphony Orchestra debut: June 19th, 2019

With powerful stroke

Christian Tetzlaff is one of the most sought-after violinists and exciting musicians in the classical world. Concerts with him often become an existential experience for interpreter and audience alike; old familiar pieces suddenly appear in a completely new light. In addition, he repeatedly draws attention to forgotten masterpieces such as the Violin Concerto by Joseph Joachim or the Violin Concerto No. 22 by Giovanni Battista Viotti, a contemporary of Mozart and Beethoven. In addition, Christian Tetzlaff is committed to substantial new works, such as the Violin Concerto by Jörg Widmann, which he premiered in 2013. With dedication he cultivates an unusually broad repertoire and gives around 100 concerts a year.

Highlights of the 2022/23 season include tours with the Hamburg Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Bundesjugendorchester, as well as a South American tour with Der Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. Other chamber orchestras in the season include the Munich Chamber Orchestra and the Orchestre de chambre de Paris. In addition, guest appearances within Germany with the hr-Sinfonieorchester Frankfurt, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Staatsorchester Stuttgart and Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and in the wider Europe with the Orquesta y Coro Nacionales de España, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Christian Tetzlaff is also regularly invited to perform with Japanese and US orchestras, such as the New Japan Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic again this season.

Christian Tetzlaff is regularly asked to present his musical views as a resident artist with orchestras and promoters for extended periods of time, including the Berlin Philharmonic, the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and the Dresden Philharmonic. In the 2021/22 season he was given this honor at London’s Wigmore Hall and in 2022/23 he is “Portrait Artist” with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Throughout his career, Christian Tetzlaff has made guest appearances with all the major orchestras, including the Vienna and New York Philharmonic Orchestras, the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, and all the London orchestras. He worked with legendary maestri such as Sergiu Celibidache, Bernard Haitink, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur and Christoph von Dohnányi. He has also established close artistic ties with Karina Canellakis, Daniel Harding, Paavo Järvi, Vladimir Jurowski, Andris Nelsons, Sir Simon Rattle, François-Xavier Roth, Robin Ticciati, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Michael Tilson Thomas. They will be joined again in the 2022/23 season by David Afkham, Marc Albrecht, Francesco Angelico, Ed Gardner, Barbara Hannigan, Cornelius Meister, Ingo Metzmacher and Kent Nagano.

Christian Tetzlaff founded his own string quartet with his sister, cellist Tanja Tetzlaff, as early as 1994, and to this day chamber music is as close to his heart as his work as a soloist with and without orchestra. Each year he undertakes at least one tour with the Tetzlaff Quartet, including this season with concerts in Hamburg, Dortmund, Schwetzingen, Berlin, Olso, Bergen and Budapest, among others, as well as an extensive trio tour in the United States and solo recitals in Asia and North America. In 2015, the quartet was awarded the Diapason d’or; the trio with his sister Tanja Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt was nominated for a GRAMMY the following year.

Christian Tetzlaff has received numerous awards for his CD recordings, including the 2018 Annual Prize of the German Record Critics and the Diapason d’or, as well as the Midem Classical Award in 2017. Bach’s solo sonatas and partitas have always been a special concern of his, and he released their recordings for the third time in 2017. The Strad magazine praised this recording as “an attentive and lively response to the beauties of Bach’s solo works.” The Ondine label will release recordings of the Beethoven and Sibelius violin concertos in fall 2019, followed by Brahms and Berg in August 2022 – both with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin conducted by Robin Ticciati.

What makes the musician, who was born in Hamburg in 1966 and now lives with his family in Berlin, so unique are – in addition to his great violinistic skills – three things above all: he takes the musical text literally, he understands music as a language, and he reads the great works as narratives that reflect existential insights. What sounds quite natural here is a rather unusual approach in everyday concert life.

When Christian Tetzlaff tries to fulfill the musical text as deeply as possible – without indulging in the often customary violin technical facilitations – the old familiar great works often reveal themselves in new clarity and sharpness. As a violinist, Tetzlaff tries to disappear behind the work – and this paradoxically makes his interpretations very individual.

Secondly, Christian Tetzlaff “speaks” with his violin; his playing, like human language, encompasses a wide range of expressive possibilities and is not solely focused on euphony and virtuosic brilliance.

Above all, he understands the masterpieces as stories that deal with central experiences. In their music, composers have processed the most intense feelings, the highest happiness and the deepest crises, and so Christian Tetzlaff, as a musician, also ventures into these borderline areas of emotion and musical composition. Many pieces are about nothing less than life and death. To convey this to the audience is Christian Tetzlaff’s goal.

Significantly, Tetzlaff played in youth orchestras for many years, and in Uwe-Martin Haiberg at the Lübeck Academy of Music he had a teacher for whom musical interpretation was the key to violin technique – not the other way around.

Christian Tetzlaff plays a violin made by the German violin maker Peter Greiner and teaches regularly at Kronberg Academy.

He lives in Berlin with his wife, photographer Giorgia Bertazzi, and three children.

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