Christian Tetzlaff has been one of the most sought-after violinists and most exciting musicians on the classical music scene for many years. Concerts with Christian Tetzlaff often turn into an existential experience for both the interpreter and the audience; suddenly old familiar works appear in a completely new light. In addition, he frequently turns his attention to forgotten masterpieces such as Joseph Joachim’s Violin Concerto which he successfully championed, and he also attempts to bring important new works into the repertoire such as Jörg Widmann’s Violin Concerto, which he premiered in 2013. He has an unusually extensive repertoire and performs approximately 100 concerts every year.
Christian Tetzlaff is regularly invited to be the Artist in Residence with orchestras and at events in order to be able to present his musical interpretations over a longer period of time, which has been the case with the Berliner Philharmoniker and at Wigmore Hall in London. In the 2018/2019 season he was the Artist in Residence of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and the Dresdner Philharmonie at the same time.
During his career Christian Tetzlaff has appeared as a guest with major orchestras around the world, such as the Wiener Philharmoniker, the New York Philharmonic, the Concertgebouworkest and all of London’s leading orchestras. He has been working with conductors including Sergiu Celibidache, Christoph von Dohnányi, Bernard Haitink, Lorin Maazel and Kurt Masur and also, more recently, Barbara Hannigan, Christoph von Dohnányi, Paavo Järvi, Vladimir Jurowski, Andris Nelsons, Sir Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Michael Tilson Thomas, to name but a few.
Highlights of the 2019/2020 season include concerts in the USA with the National Symphony Orchestra Washington and Christoph Eschenbach and with the Metropolitan Orchestra New York and Gianandrea Noseda. In Asia, he will appear with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and Manfred Honeck and with the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra and Cornelius Meister. In Europe, the following orchestras are looking forward to collaborating with him: Orchestre de Paris and Orchestre National de France, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, hr-Sinfonieorchester Frankfurt as well as the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester and the Berliner Philharmoniker at the Festspiele Baden-Baden, with conductors such as Marc Albrecht, Karina Canellakis, Philippe Herreweghe, Emmanuel Krivine, Hannu Lintu, Gianandrea Noseda and Tugan Sokhiev.
Born in Hamburg in 1966 and now living in Berlin with his family, there are three things that make this musician unique, aside from his astounding skill on the violin. He interprets the musical manuscript in a literal fashion, perceives music as a language, and views great works as narratives which reflect existential experiences. As obvious as it may sound, he brings an unusual approach in his daily concert routine.
Christian Tetzlaff tries to follow the manuscript as closely as possible – without regard for “performance tradition” and without indulging in the usual technical short-cuts on the violin – often allowing a renewed clarity and richness to arise in well-known works. As a violinist Tetzlaff tries to disappear from the music – paradoxically this makes his interpretations very personal.
Secondly, Christian Tetzlaff “speaks” through his violin. Like human speech, his playing comprises a wide range of expressive means and is not aimed solely at achieving harmoniousness or virtuosic brilliance.
Above all, however, he interprets the masterpieces of musical history as stories about first-hand experiences. The great composers have focused on intense feelings, great happiness and deep crises in their music; as a musician Christian Tetzlaff also explores the limits of feelings and musical expression. Many pieces deal with none other than life and death. Christian Tetzlaff’s aim is to convey this to his audience.
Christian Tetzlaff played in various youth orchestras for many years. His teacher at the Lübeck University of Music was Uwe-Martin Haiberg, for whom musical interpretation was the key to mastering violin technique, rather than the other way round. Christian Tetzlaff founded his own string quartet in 1994, and until now chamber music is still as important to him as his work as a soloist with and without the orchestra. Every year he takes on at least one extensive tour with the quartet; in the 2019/2020 season they will perform in the Alte Oper Frankfurt, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Philharmonie Berlin, Palais des Beaux Arts Bruxelles and the Wigmore Hall London. The Tetzlaff Quartett received the Diapason d’or in 2015, and the trio with sister Tanja Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt was nominated for a Grammy award. In this season he will appear in this trio at the Rheingau Musik Festival, amongst others. In duo with Lars Vogt, he will embark on an extensive tour through the USA and appear at the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and, also in duo, he performs with Alexander Longquich in the Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin.
Christian Tetzlaff has also received numerous awards for his CD recordings, including the Jahrespreis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik in 2018, the Diapason d’or in July 2018 and the Midem Classical Award in 2017. The new Ondine recording of Ludwig van Beethoven and Jean Sibelius violin concertos with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Robin Ticciati is highly anticipated in autumn 2019.
Of special significance is his solo recording of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas, which he has recorded for the third time and was released in September 2017. The Strad magazine praised this recording as “an attentive and lively answer to the beauty of Bach’s solos”. They have also become an integral part of his concert calendar: he opened the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in July 2019 with a solo recital in the sold-out main hall of the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and will also present these solo works in St. Petersburg, Moscow and the Philharmonie Berlin.
Christian Tetzlaff plays a violin made by the German violin maker Peter Greiner and teaches regularly at the Kronberg Academy.
As of May 2020