Things are going extremely well for Tabea Zimmermann at the moment. In 2020 she was awarded the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, one of classical music’s most prestigious international awards. And during the 2020/21 season she plays an important role in the programming of the Berliner Philharmoniker as artist in residence. “This appointment is the greatest honour I can imagine,” declares the violist. “I am tremendously pleased that the invitation came from the orchestra itself. I was delighted to say yes.” The native of Baden-Württemberg has been at home on international concert stages for more than thirty years. She made her debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker with Bartók’s Viola Concerto in 1992 and has always earned the highest recognition as an interpreter of uncompromising standards, a dedicated professor at the Hanns Eisler School of Music and a passionate advocate of contemporary music.
She will present six concerts during her residency. “Paul Hindemith is the central thread of the concerts,” she says, explaining the programming idea. “I’d like to take up his cause.” With the Berliner Philharmoniker under François-Xavier Roth she will perform Hindemith’s concerto Der Schwanendreher (The Swan-Turner). During chamber concerts she will juxtapose several of his early works – “not yet the kinetic Hindemith many are afraid of” – with works composed at the same time by Claude Debussy and British composer Rebecca Clarke, thus revealing surprising parallels. She is fulfilling a heartfelt wish at her first appearance with baritone Christian Gerhaher: “Every time we met we asked ourselves ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we could make music together?’ But there simply was no work for us to perform.” Wolfgang Rihm changed that with his new Stabat Mater for viola and baritone, which will have its premiere during the Musikfest.
Soloist and chamber musician
Tabea Zimmermann will definitely not be taking things easy herself. She has planned a chamber music marathon during which Hindemith’s song cycle Die junge Magd (The Young Maid) will be heard. She will appear in the dual role of violist and leader with the Karajan Academy, although she deliberately does not see herself as the conductor: “The rehearsal phase is the decisive time. I’m very active at the beginning, then I gradually pull back until the ensemble practically plays alone.” It is important to her to achieve the chamber music ideal, even in the larger ensemble. An artist for whom not ego but art alone matters: that is a stroke of luck – for Berlin and the music world.