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Thomas Zehetmair: Bio

Thomas Zehetmair has fashioned a highly successful and broadly eclectic career. He is a virtuoso violinist of international repute; a chamber player who has founded his own critically acclaimed quartet; a conductor of front-rank status; and a musician whose repertory in any role reaches from Baroque-era fare, particularly J.S. Bach, up through Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schumann, and Brahms, and extending to Bartók, Schoenberg, and Berg, as well as to contemporary composers like (oboist/composer) Heinz Holliger, Valentin Silvestrov, Isang Yun, and Wilhelm Killmayer. In the concertos of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, and other pre-modern composers, Zehetmair often provides his own cadenzas, and in these works and those of Bach he frequently appears as soloist while conducting the orchestra. He also employs certain historic performance practices in early works, having studied such details with Nikolaus Harnoncourt. In the chamber realm he has collaborated with world-class musicians like pianists Alfred Brendel and Cyprien Katsaris and violinist Gidon Kremer. As a soloist Zehetmair has appeared with the leading orchestras across the globe, including the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic orchestras; the Dresden State, NHK (Tokyo), Cleveland, and Philadelphia orchestras; and the Boston Symphony. Zehetmair the conductor has led mainly chamber ensembles, including the Camerata Bern and Northern Sinfonia. He has made numerous recordings spread over a variety of labels, including EMI, Philips, Teldec, Warner Classics, Avie, Berlin Classics, and others.

Thomas Zehetmair was born in Salzburg, Austria, on November 23, 1961. He began violin lessons at five with his parents, both talented violinists. His advanced studies were at the Salzburg Mozarteum under his father, Helmut. He took further instruction on the violin from Nathan Milstein and Max Rostal.

Zehetmair worked busily at establishing an international reputation throughout the 1980s, and by 1990 was regularly appearing to acclaim at major concert venues from New York to Berlin to Tokyo. In 1993 he took on his first conducting post when he became co-director of the Camerata Bern. The following year he founded the Zehetmair Quartet, thereafter dividing his time among solo performances, chamber concerts, and conducting.

Zehetmair became music director of the Northern Sinfonia, beginning with the 2002-2003 season, and of the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris in 2012. Among Zehetmair's later recordings are the 2005 Berlin Classics CD of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, with the Camerata Bern, and the 2007 Avie recording of the Schumann Fourth Symphony and Brahms Violin Concerto, where Zehetmair appears with the Northern Sinfonia both as soloist (in the Brahms) and conductor.

Thomas Zehetmair

Sei Solo - JSBach, The Sonatas and Partitas


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1 J.S. Bach: Sonata for Violin Solo No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001 - 1. Adagio  
2 Fuga. Allegro  
3 Siciliana  
4 Presto  
5 J.S. Bach: Partita for Violin Solo No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002 - 1. Allemanda  
6 Double  
7 Corrente  
8 Double. Presto  
9 Sarabande  
10 Double  
11 Tempo di Borea  
12 Double  
13 J.S. Bach: Sonata for Violin Solo No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 1003 - 1. Grave  
14 Fuga  
15 Andante  
16 Allegro  
17 J.S. Bach: Partita for Violin Solo No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004 - 1. Allemande  
18 Corrente  
19 Sarabande  
20 Giga  
21 Ciaccona  
22 J.S. Bach: Sonata for Violin Solo No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1005 - 1. Adagio  
23 Fuga  
24 Largo  
25 Allegro assai  
26 J.S. Bach: Partita for Violin Solo No. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006 - 1. Preludio  
27 Loure  
28 Gavotte en Rondeau  
29 Menuet I / Menuet II - Menuet I da capo  
30 Bourree  
31 Gigue  

Composed three centuries ago, Johann Sebastian Bach's set of six works for solo violin stands as one of the holy grails of the instrument's literature – perhaps the holiest. Now the great Austrian musician Thomas Zehetmair makes his own mark in the rich history of this music, revisiting the repertoire on period instruments.

Zehetmair is an extraordinary violinist and a consistently inquisitive and self-questioning artist. He has not only played the big concertos but has given close attention to chamber music and new repertory and has also found an extra calling as a conductor, channelling this varied experience into his return to the formidable cornerstone of Bach's solo masterpieces.