An artist known for his musical integrity, technical assurance and intelligent, compelling interpretations, Christian Tetzlaff is internationally recognized as one of the most important violinists performing today.
From the outset of his career, Mr. Tetzlaff has performed and recorded a broad spectrum of the repertoire, ranging from Bach's unaccompanied sonatas and partitas to 19th century masterworks by Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Brahms; and from 20th century concertos by Bartok, Berg and Shostakovich to world premieres of contemporary works. Also a dedicated chamber musician, he frequently collaborates with distinguished artists including Leif Ove Andsnes, Lars Vogt and Alexander Lonquich and is the founder of the Tetzlaff Quartet, which he formed in 1994 with violinist Elisabeth Kufferath, violist Hanna Weinmeister and his sister, cellist Tanja Tetzlaff.
Born in Hamburg in 1966, music occupied a central place in his family and his three siblings are all professional musicians. Mr. Tetzlaff began playing the violin and piano at age six, but pursued a regular academic education while continuing his musical studies. He did not begin intensive study of the violin until making his concert debut playing the Beethoven Violin Concerto at the age of 14 and attributes the establishment of his musical outlook to his teacher at the conservatory in Lübeck, Uwe-Martin Haiberg, who placed equal stress on interpretation and technique. Mr. Tetzlaff came to the United States during the 1985-86 academic year to work with Walter Levine at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and also spent two summers at the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont.
Mr. Tetzlaff has been in demand as a soloist with most of the world's leading orchestras and conductors, establishing close artistic partnerships that are renewed season after season. Mr. Tetzlaff has performed with the orchestras of Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Toronto, among many others in North America, as well as with the major European ensembles including the Berlin Philharmonic, London Symphony, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam.
Highlights of Mr. Tetzlaff’s 13/14 season in North America include appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Chicago, San Francisco, St. Louis and National symphonies; recitals with Lars Vogt in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Montreal, Quebec City and at the Schubert Club in St. Paul; and two appearances in Carnegie Hall – with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and with the Tetzlaff Quartet, which also performs at Duke University, Dartmouth College, Spivey Hall in Atlanta and the Eastman School of Music. European highlights include return visits to the Vienna and Munich Philharmonics and tours with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and London’s Philharmonia Orchestra under Andris Nelsons.
Christian Tetzlaff was a 2010-11 Carnegie Hall Perspectives artist, an initiative in which musicians are invited to curate a personal concert series in Carnegie and Zankel Halls through collaborations with other musicians and ensembles. Mr. Tetzlaff’s Perspectives included an appearance with the Boston Symphony during which he played concertos by Mozart, Bartok and the New York premiere of a new concerto by Harrison Birtwistle; a play/conduct performance with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s; a performance with the Ensemble ACJW led by Sir Simon Rattle; a concert with the Tetzlaff Quartet; and a duo-recital with violinist Antje Weithaas. He also led a Professional Training Workshop for young violinists and pianists, culminating in a young artist concert.
Tetzlaff's highly regarded recordings reflect the breadth of his musical interests and include solo works, chamber music and concertos ranging from Haydn to Bartok. His recent recordings include Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with the Tonhalle Orchestra and David Zinman for Arte Nova; the complete Bach Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin for the Musical Heritage and Haenssler labels; and Schumann’s Three Piano Trios with Leif Ove Andsnes and Tanja Tetzlaff for EMI/Virgin. Mr. Tetzlaff’s latest recordings include Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Vienna Philharmonic led by Mr. Boulez for Deutsche Grammophon; the Schumann and Mendelssohn Violin Concertos with Frankfurt Radio Orchestra and Paavo Järvi for Edel Classics; Jorg Widmann’s Violin Concerto, written for Mr. Tetzlaff, with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Daniel Harding for Ondine; and Schönberg’s String Quartet No. 1 and Sibelius’s Quartet op. 56 with the Tetzlaff Quartet on the AVI label.
Christian Tetzlaff currently performs on a violin modeled after a Guarneri del Gesu made by the German violin maker, Peter Greiner. In honor of his artistic achievements, Musical America named Mr. Tetzlaff "Instrumentalist of the Year" in 2005.