Known for his musical integrity, technical assurance and intelligent, compelling interpretations, Christian Tetzlaff has for many years been internationally recognized as one of the most sought after violinists and exciting musicians on the classical music scene.
His concerts often turn into an illuminating experience as he views great works as narratives which reflect the composers’ existential experiences. Suddenly, familiar works appear in a completely new light, as he perceives music as a language and his playing explores the limits of human feelings and expressiveness. He tries to fulfill the musical text as deeply as possible and as a violinist attempts to disappear behind the work — paradoxically making his interpretations very personal.
In addition, he often performs 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 new works such as Jorg Widmann’s Violin Concerto, which he premiered in 2013. He has an unusually extensive repertoire and performs approximately 100 concerts each season.
Throughout his career, Tetzlaff has appeared with the world’s leading orchestras, collaborating with conductors including Sergiu Celibidache, Bernard Haitink, Lorin Maazel and Kurt Masur, and more recently with 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.
Tetzlaff regularly appears with the orchestras of Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Toronto, among many others, as well as with major European ensembles such as the Berlin and Vienna philharmonics, London Symphony and London Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Dresden Staatskappelle and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He is also a guest at the world’s most prominent summer music festivals, including Verbier, Salzburg, Tanglewood, Edinburgh, the Proms and New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival.
In addition, Tetzlaff is regularly invited as an artist-in-residence to present his musical views over a longer period of time; past residencies include working with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, the Dresden Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall. In the 2021-2022 season, he served as artist-in-residence at London's Wigmore Hall, while his 2020-21 residency with the London Symphony is rescheduled for 2022-23.
Tetzlaff is also a dedicated chamber musician; performing chamber music is as close to his heart as his work as a soloist with or without an orchestra. He founded the Tetzlaff Quartet in 1994 with violinist Elisabeth Kufferath, violist Hanna Weinmeister and his sister, cellist Tanja Tetzlaff. Each season he undertakes at least one extensive tour with the quartet when it appears on the major recital and chamber music series throughout Europe and North America, as well as in Asia.
He has received numerous awards for his many recordings, including the Diapason d’Or in July 2018, the Midem Classical Award in 2017 and the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik in 2015. Most recently, his recording of the Bartok Violin Concertos with the Helsinki Philharmonic and Hannu Lintu was chosen as the Gramophone Concerto Recording of the Year. Of special significance are his recordings of the unaccompanied Bach Sonatas and Partitas, works he recorded for the third time in September 2017 for Ondine and remain an integral part of his concert calendar. A new Ondine recording of the Beethoven and Sibelius violin concerts with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Robin Ticciati was released in 2019.
Born in Hamburg in 1966 and now living in Berlin with his family, Tetzlaff did not begin intensive study of the violin until the age of 14. He attributes the way he learns and performs to his teacher at the conservatory in Lübeck, Uwe-Martin Haiberg, for whom musical interpretation was the key to violin technique.
Tetzlaff plays a violin by German luthier Peter Greiner and teaches regularly at the Kronberg Academy.