Thomas Zehetmair

Austrian violinist and conductor (born in 1961, Salzburg)

Child prodigy in violin, Thomas Zehetmair performs as a soloist, chamber musician and conductor, covering a large repertoire from Baroque masterpieces to contemporary works.

Thomas Zehetmair started studying violin with his father, and started practicing chamber music very quickly with his family, before enrolling at the Salzburg Mozarteum. He later studied in master classes with Nathan Milstein and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. He started his career in 1977 at the Salzburg Festival, where he recorded Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major, K. 218 from 1981. He started conducting in famous classical concerts with large orchestras, both in the United States and Europe. He worked with leading conductors such as Neville Marriner, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Christoph Eschenbach, Simon Rattle, or with re-enacting specialists such as Sir Roger Norrington, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Frans Brüggen, with whom he would go on recording Mozart’s Violin concertos with record label Glossa, between 2000 and 2005.

In 1993, he became co-director of the Camerata Bern and continued his career as a conductor, while still devoting a significant part of his activities to chamber music. Founding the Zehetmair Quartet allowed him to cover Bartók’s Quartets as well as the contemporary repertoire, which he performed as a soloist, too. Furthermore, many composers wrote to his attention: K. A. Hartmann, Heinz Holliger, Wilhelm Killmayer, Rolf Liebermann, Dieter Schnebel… He then became music director of the Orchestre de chambre de Paris until 2014.

Zehetmair plays a Stradivarius violin from 1730. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Music Franz Liszt in Weimar and Newcastle University.

Six landmark dates in the life of Thomas Zehetmair

1978: Awarded first prize at the Mozart International Competition

1993: Conducted the Camerata Bern together with Ana Chumachenco

1994: Founded the Zehetmair Quartet

2002: Zehetmair created Heinz Holliger's Violin Concerto No.2 

2007: Recording of Paganini’s 24 Caprices for ECM

2012: Became music director and artistic advisor of the Orchestre de chambre de Paris 

Biography from Radio France’s document database, December 2013