Thomas Zehetmair


Thomas Zehetmair’s ability to skilfully blend his musical interests is unparalleled. He enjoys widespread international acclaim not only as a violinist, but also a conductor and chamber musician making him one of the most prominent artist personalities of present day. His international career as a conductor is defined primarily by his position as Artistic Partner of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, USA as well as Principal Conductor of the Musikkollegium Winterthur commencing with the season 2016/2017.
Taking the helm of the Royal Northern Sinfonia as Principal Conductor in 2002, he sculpted it into one of England’s leading orchestras during his term ending in 2014. As “Conductor laureate” he will continue to maintain close ties with the orchestra in future. A number of recordings document his exceedingly prolific work with the orchestra:  Brahms’ violin concerto and Schumann’s symphony no. 4, Sibelius’ symphonies no. 3 and 6 as well as Stravinsky’s violin concerto in D major, Schubert’s symphonies no. 6 and no. 9 as well as symphonies no. 1 and no. 2 by Hans Gál. His latest releases feature Mendelssohn’s symphonies no. 1 and no. 5 with the Musikkollegium Winterthur (MDG) as well as two albums presenting works by French composers with the Orchestre de chambre de Paris (Naïve). 
Thomas Zehetmair has recorded the largest amount of repertoire for the violin; many of his releases have earned multiple awards. These recordings include, among others, B. A. Zimmermann’s violin concerto with the WDR Sinfonieorchester under Heinz Holliger (“Diapason d’Or de l’Année“ 2009), 24 Paganini Caprices (the best list of the “Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik“ 2009, Midem Classic Award 2010), a recording of Elgar’s violin concerto with the Hallé Orchestra Manchester under Sir Mark Elder (Gramophone Award 2010) and Mozart’s violin concertos with the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century under Frans Brüggen, acclaimed as a reference recording. Furthermore, the recording “Manto and Madrigals“ appeared with ECM in March 2011 where the duo of Thomas Zehetmair and Ruth Killius embark on a journey charting modern and contemporary repertoire for the violin and viola.
Thomas Zehetmair is both a sought-after soloist and conductor among leading international orchestras. He is also the founding member of the Zehetmair Quartet, with which he was awarded the Paul Hindemith Prize by the City of Hanau in November 2014 in recognition of outstanding musical achievement.
For his far-reaching artistic contributions, Thomas Zehetmair was awarded, among other things, the certificate of honour by the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik as well as the Karl Böhm Interpretation Prize by the federated state of Styria. Thomas Zehetmair is an honorary doctor at the University of Music Franz Liszt in Weimar and Newcastle University.

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    Violin Concerto in D minor



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"A virtuoso technique married to a musical mind that won’t take anything for granted. Zehetmair seems to find answers where other musicians don’t even see questions ..." Andrew McGregor, BBC Radio 3

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Violin Concerto, Symphony No. 1 & Phantasie

CD with Orchestre de chambre de Paris

"Schumann’s Violin Concerto has a tricky history. It was composed in 1853 but deemed so weird at the time that it wasn’t performed until 1937, when it was hijacked for Nazi propaganda. Nowadays, advocates such as Thomas Zehetmair give the troubled and soulful piece the love it deserves. He first recorded it for Teldec in 1988 and recently helped prepare a new urtext edition – sorting out centuries of editorial meddling. His new account is warmer, more declamatory, more openly glorious in lyrical passages." Kate Molleson, The Guardian, 24 March 2016

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.