Christian Tetzlaff is one of the most sought-after violinists and most exciting musicians on the classical music scene. Concerts with him often become an existential experience for the interpreter and audience alike, old familiar works suddenly appear in a completely new light. In addition, he frequently turns his attention to forgotten masterpieces such as Joseph Joachim’s Violin Concerto or the Violin Concerto No. 22 by Giovanni Battista Viotti, a contemporary of Mozart and Beethoven. To broaden his repertoire, he also commits himself to substantial new works, such as Jörg Widmann’s Violin Concerto, which he premiered in 2013. With devotion he cultivates an unusually extensive repertoire and performs approximately 100 concerts every 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 Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. Other chamber orchestras in the season include the Münchner Kammerorchester 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 further afield in Europe with the Orquesta y Coro Nacionales de España, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Christian Tetzkaff 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 invited as Artist in Residence to present his musical views over a longer period of time, including the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and the Dresdner Philharmoniker. In the 2021/22 season, he was given this honour at London’s Wigmore Hall and in 2022/23 he is “Portrait Artist” of the London Symphony Orchestra.
In the course of his career, Christian Tetzlaff made guest appearances with all the great orchestras, including the Vienna and New York Philharmonic Orchestras, the Concertgebouworkest 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. Close artistic ties have also been forged with Karina Canellakis, Daniel Harding, Paavo Järvi, Vladimir Jurowski, Andris Nelsons, Sir Simon Rattle, Francois 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.
In 1994, Christian Tetzlaff founded with his sister the cellist Tanja Tetzlaff his own string quartet, and to this day chamber music is as close to his heart as his work as a soloist with or without orchestra. Every year he undertakes at least one tour with the Tetzlaff Quartett, so also this season with concerts in Hamburg, Dortmund, Schwetzingen, Berlin, Olso, Bergen and Budapest, among others, as well as an extensive trio tour in the USA and solo recitals in Asia and North America. The Tetzlaff Quartett was awarded the Diapason d’or in 2015 and the trio with his sister Tanja Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt was nominated for a GRAMMY award in 2016.
Christian Tetzlaff has also received numerous prizes for his CD recordings, including the “Jahrespreis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik” and the “Diapason d’or” in 2018 as well as the Midem Classical Award in 2017. Of special significance is his solo recording of 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”. The Ondine label released the recording of the Beethoven and Sibelius violin concertos in autumn 2019, followed by Brahms and Berg in August 2022 – both with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin conducted by Robin Ticciati.
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 reads the great works as narratives that reflect existential insights. As obvious as it may sound, he brings an unusual approach in his daily concert routine.
Christian Tetzlaff tries to fulfill the musical text as deeply as possible – 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 behind the work – and 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; Christian Tetzlaff, as a musician, also explores the limits of feelings and musical expression. Many pieces deal with nothing less than life and death. Christian Tetzlaff’s aim is to convey this to his audience.
Significantly, Tetzlaff played in youth orchestras for many years. In Uwe-Martin Haiberg at the Lübeck Music Academy, he had a teacher for whom musical interpretation was the key to mastering violin technique, rather than the other way round.
Christian Tetzlaff plays a violin by the German violin maker Peter Greiner and teaches regularly at the Kronberg Academy.
He lives in Berlin with his wife, the photographer Giorgia Bertazzi, and three children.