Thomas Zehetmair


Thomas Zehetmair is one of today’s most outstanding artistic personalities. As violinist as well as conductor and chamber musician he is highly regarded worldwide. He is Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Orchestre de chambre de Paris, France and Artistic Partner of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, USA.

In his position as music director with the Royal Northern Sinfonia from 2002 until 2014 he formed the orchestra into being one of the leading orchestras in the United Kingdom. As “conductor laureate” he will still be connected to the orchestra in the future. A series of recordings documents this utterly successful collaboration: Brahms’ Violin concerto and Schumann’s Symphony No. 4 with Thomas Zehetmair in double function as soloist and conductor, a disc of Sibelius’ Symphonies 3 and 6, Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major, Schubert’s Symphonies No. 6 and No. 9, Gál’s Symphonies No. 1 and No. 2. His most recent recordings include Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 1 and No. 5 with the Musikkollegium Winterthur for D&G. Together with the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, he recorded two albums dedicated to the works of French composers.

Thomas Zehetmair has recorded nearly the entire violin repertoire and a number of his CDs have been multiply decorated. His latest CD releases include B. A. Zimmermann’s “Canto di speranza” with the WDR Symphony Orchestra under Heinz Holliger (“Diapason d’Or de l’Année”´2009), the 24 Capricci by Paganini (honorary list of the German Record Critics’ Award 2009, Midem Classic Award 2010), Elgar’s Violin concerto with the Hallé Orchestra under Mark Elder (Gramophone Award 2010) as well as Mozart’s violin concertos with the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century under Frans Brüggen, referred to as a reference recording. In addition, ECM published the recording “Manto and Madrigal” in March 2011, on which Thomas Zehetmair and his duo partner Ruth Killius explore modern and contemporary repertoire for violin and viola.

As guest conductor Thomas Zehetmair works with orchestras such as the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra Manchester, the Residentie Orkest Den Haag, the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, the Camerata Salzburg (Salzburger Festspiele), the Musikkollegium Winterthur and the Zürcher Kammerorchester. As a soloist he is frequently invited to play with the most outstanding orchestras worldwide.

Thomas Zehetmair was honored with the German Record Critics’ Award for his versatile artistic work as soloist, conductor and chamber musician. He was also awarded the “Karl-Böhm Interpretation Award” of the Austrian State Steiermark during a ceremony at Graz Castle; the laudation was presented by Heinz Holliger.

Thomas Zehetmair holds honorary doctorates from the Music Academy Franz Liszt in Weimar and Newcastle University, UK.


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    Violin Concerto



St Paul Chamber Orchestra

Wayzata Community Church, Wayzata

"In the orchestral opening, a cascade of ravishing melodies, Zehetmair and Killius played as members of the ensemble, their backs to the audience, until they turned around and dazzled... Zehetmair conducted with obvious affection for this music and he weaved the symphony into a delicious confection."

Star Tribune, 18 May 2013

Concert April 2012

St Paul Chamber Orchestra

"Under Zehetmair, the orchestra sounded at its best, playing with precision and passion, rising to a mighty apotheosis in the finale."


Mineapolis Star Tribune, 6 April 2012

Concert April 2012

Northern Sinfonia. The Sage Gateshead.

"it was a true celebration of both Zehetmair’s instinctive understanding of Schubert, and the intimate and creative energies that he has kindled within the ensemble...the opening movement was played out with a hushed and sustained reticence, as though each player were confiding one with the other, with their conductor, and with us". The Times, 29 April 2012

Concert December 2011

Northern Sinfonia. The Sage Gateshead.

"Zehetmair's approach to Schubert's Third is infused with wonder...The details are dazzling, violas and second violins giddy in the teeth-chattering quavers of the last Allegro, the intelligence and wit of the cello section captivating throughout."

The Independent on Sunday, 11 December 2011.

Concert June 2011

St Paul Chamber Orchestra

"An overdue concerto performance came on a gripping, haunting work by Karl Amadeus Hartmann, a 20th-century German composer who packed much of his sadness and anger at the Nazi government into his "Concerto funebre." It proved a tour de force for Zehetmair, especially during an aggressive, panic-laden third movement and a closing Chorale that sang out like the saddest soprano aria that you've ever heard in an opera house."

Rob Hubbard, Pioneer Press, 15 June 2011.


Concerto Funèbre

St Paul Chamber Orchestra

"Artistic Partner Thomas Zehetmair conducted with passion, driving the music dramatically, creating a sense of devastation and mourning in the orchestra's dissonances. As soloist, he made the most of the violin's anguished utterances in his raw, uninhibited playing." 

William Randall Beard, Star Tribune, June 10, 2011.