Julia Fischer in 2006 (Photo: Tom Specht)
15 June 1983 |
Fischer, born in Munich, Germany, is of German-Slovakian parentage. Her mother, Viera Fischer (née Krenková), came from the German minority in Slovakia and immigrated from Košice, Slovakia (then Czechoslovakia), to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1972. Her father, Frank-Michael Fischer, a mathematician who was born in East Germany, moved in the same year from Eastern Saxony to West Germany.
Fischer began her studies before her fourth birthday, when she received her first violin lesson from Helge Thelen. A few months later she started studying the piano with her mother. Fischer said, "my mother's a pianist and I wanted to play the piano as well, but as my elder brother also played the piano, she thought it would be nice to have another instrument in the family. I agreed to try out the violin and stayed with it." She began her formal violin education at the Leopold Mozart Conservatory in Augsburg under the tutelage of Lydia Dubrowskaya. At the age of nine, Julia Fischer was admitted to the Munich Academy of Music, where she continues to work with Ana Chumachenco.
She has worked with internationally acclaimed conductors, such as Lorin Maazel, Christoph Eschenbach, Yakov Kreizberg, Yuri Temirkanov, Sir Neville Marriner, David Zinman, Zdeněk Mácal, Jun Märkl, Ruben Gazarian, Marek Janowski, Herbert Blomstedt, Michael Tilson Thomas, and with a variety of top German, American, British, Polish, French, Italian, Swiss, Dutch, Norwegian, Russian, Japanese, Czech and Slovakian orchestras. Fischer has performed in most European countries, the United States, Brazil and Japan; in concerts broadcast on TV and radio in every major European country, as well as on many U.S., Japanese and Australian radio stations.
In 2003 Fischer, with numerous performances in the U.S. in the previous six years, appeared with the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Lorin Maazel playing the Sibelius Violin Concerto in New York's Lincoln Center, as well as the Mendelssohn Violin concerto in Vail, Colorado. Her 2003 Carnegie Hall debut received standing ovations for her performance of Brahms's Double Concerto with Lorin Maazel and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. Fischer has been on orchestral tours with Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Herbert Blomstedt and the Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Dresden Philharmonic.
In fall 2004 the label Pentatone released Fischer's first CD: Russian violin concertos with Yakov Kreizberg and the Russian National Orchestra. It received rave reviews, climbed into the top five best-selling classical records in Germany within a few days, and received an "Editor's Choice" from Gramophone in January 2005. Other critically acclaimed recordings include sonatas and partitas for solo violin of J. S. Bach, the Mozart violin concerti and the Tchaikovsky violin concerto.
Among the most prestigious competitions that Fischer has won are the International Yehudi Menuhin Violin Competition under Lord Yehudi Menuhin's supervision, where she won both the first prize and the special prize for best Bach solo work performance in 1995, and the Eighth Eurovision Competition for Young Instrumentalists in 1996, which was broadcast in 22 countries from Lisbon. In 1997, Fischer was awarded the "Prix d'Espoir" by the Foundation of European Industry. She had the opportunity to play Mozart's own violin in the room in which he was born at Salzburg to honor the 250th anniversary of his birth.
Her active repertoire spans from Bach to Penderecki, from Vivaldi to Shostakovich, containing over 40 works with orchestra and about 60 works of chamber music.
On 1 January 2008, Fischer had her public debut as a pianist, performing Edvard Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor with the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie at the Alte Oper, Frankfurt. The concert was conducted by Matthias Pintscher, who stepped in for Sir Neville Marriner. On the same occasion she also performed the Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor by Camille Saint-Saëns.
In addition to her native German, Fischer is fluent in English and French.
Currently, she plays on a Guadagnini 1742 purchased in May 2004. For four years prior to that, she had been using a Stradivarius, the 1716 Booth, on loan from Nippon Music Foundation, an instrument that had previously belonged to Iona Brown. She usually uses a Benoît Rolland bow, but sometimes a copy of the Heifetz Tourte by the Viennese maker Thomas Gerbeth for early Classical period music.
"I play on a 4/4 violin since I was ten. The quality of my instruments has improved over time: Ventapane, Gagliano and Testore to a Guarneri del Gesu in 1998. Yet I had not been happy with this violin and I changed to a Stradivarius [the "Booth" from 1716, owned by the Nippon Music Foundation] on which I played four years and that satisfied me. But I always wanted to have my own instrument. So six years ago, I bought in London, on the advice of concertmaster of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, one of my best friends, Guadagnini from 1742." – Julia Fischer, August 2010
Prizes and honors
Fischer has won five prizes for her violin playing and three prizes for her piano playing a.o. at Jugend musiziert. She won all eight competitions she entered.
- 1995: 1st Prize at the international Yehudi Menuhin competition, in addition to a special prize, "Best Bach Solo-work". Music journalist Edward Greenfield said, "I first heard Julia Fischer in 1995 as a 12-year-old in the Yehudi Menuhin Violin Competition. Not only did she win outright in the junior category, she was manifestly more inspired than anyone in the senior category."
- 1996: Winner 8th Eurovision Competition for Young Instrumentalists in Lisbon
- 1997: Prix d'Espoir the prize of the European music industry
- 1997: Soloist prize of the festival "Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania"
- 1998: EIG Music Award
- 2000: Promotion prize Deutschlandfunks
- 2005: ECHO Klassik Award for the CD Russian Violin Concertos
- 2005: Winner of the Beethoven ring
- 2006: During the celebrations of Mozart's birthday in his hometown Salzburg, Fischer played on Mozart's violin (with Daniel Müller-Schott and Jonathan Gilad). About the event she says: "During the first hour I couldn't play anything I wanted, because during the days of Mozart the violins were a lot shorter and I wasn't used to that".
- 2006: "BBC Music Magazine Awards 2006 Best Newcomer" for the CD Johann Sebastian Bach, Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin (BWV 1001–1006). The jury said, “There are many recordings of Bach's works for solo violin but rarely do they reach such breathtaking heights of musicianship as this one. Julia Fischer is an incredible technician and soulful musician who does not let an ounce of ego come between the music and the listener.”
- 2007: The Classic FM Gramophone Awards Artist of the Year.
- 2007: ECHO Klassik Award for the CD Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
- 2009: MIDEM Classical Award as "Instrumentalist of 2008".
As for recording for Pentatone, Julia “had offers from big companies but none appealed. You don’t have to record. Yakov [Kreizberg] spoke to the people at Pentatone and to me and put us together. Pentatone more or less gave me carte blanche as to what I record and the musicians I work with are my choice; all these things were so important to me. I record to experience something and to help my playing and music-making. For the concerto CD, Yakov and I really talked about the pieces; I learnt so much by that.” 
"What is helpful for a career is that it is always about the music and not about the career. As soon as a young musician decides for certain reasons to have a career instead of using musical reasons, I can guarantee that it will be – if it will be at all – a short career. I truly believe that if someone wants to spend his professional life with music, he will – either as a soloist, orchestra member, teacher, concert promoter, or agent – in the end it is unimportant. One should choose to become a musician because one believes that the world needs music and without music, the emotional life of human beings is going to die. Everything else will come with dedication and hard work.” 
When Kreizberg asked her to record with the Russian National Orchestra, she said yes, but privately wondered whether it would come to pass, knowing that such impulsive recording plans often disappear into thin air. Still after their last performance in Philadelphia, Kreizberg already had the dates and suddenly Fischer, who had not even decided whether she wanted to start recording regularly, had a three-year, seven-CD contract with Pentatone, the new high-tech Dutch label headed by former Philips Classics executives, and one of the first labels to embrace the new SACD 5.1-channel surround-sound technology. Although she still wavered, what persuaded her to sign on the dotted line was that all the concerto recordings would be conducted by Kreizberg. 
|Release||Composer/Title of work||Performer||Label/Catalog no.||Format|
|2004/10||Russian Violin Concertos||Pentatone
PTC 5186 059
PTC 5186 072
PTC 5186 064
PTC 5186 085
PTC 5186 094
PTC 5186 095
PTC 5186 066
PTC 5186 098
|2009/09||Schubert Complete Works for Violin and Piano, Volume 1
PTC 5186 347
|2010/04||Schubert Complete Works for Violin and Piano, Volume 2
PTC 5186 348
- www.signandsight.com, January 10, 2008
- What's On in London, April 20, 2005
- (German)"Man darf nicht spielen, um bewundert zu werden", Die Welt (19 January 2009)
- WQXR interview on January 4, 2006
- 2008 WNYC radio interview
- interview conducted by Olivier Bellamy in August 2010
- Ereignisse (German)
- on YouTube, by Frank Elstner, SWR German television]
- Russian Violin Concertos CD review from Gramophone magazine, January 2005
- http://www.classicalsource.com/db_control/db_features.php?id=2532 What's On In London 20/04/2005
- http://www.paganini.comune.genova.it/premio_quarta_febbraio2006_paganiniana_eng.htm PREMIO PAGANINI Newsletter Quarta Corda 02/2006
- http://www.allthingsstrings.com/News/Interviews-Profiles/Violinist-Julia-Fischer-Exhibits-Wisdom-Beyond-Her-Years Strings magazine 05/2006
- Spring on Youtube.com
- Summer on Youtube.com
- Autumn on Youtube.com
- Winter on Youtube.com
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Julia Fischer.|
- Julia Fischer's fanclub
- Julia Fischer's homepage
- Pentatone's homepage
- Decca's homepage
- Audio interview from May 2006 from the website of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Musicians site
- article featured in Strings magazine, May 2006, No. 139
- (German) „Ich muss nicht sterben, um das zu spielen“. Interview with Julia Fischer from February 29, 2008