Q&A with Thomas Zehetmair


We caught up with violinist Thomas Zehetmair before his concert with us on Saturday 15 October. Find out what he has to say about his violin, the Zimmermann Violin Concerto and working with the LPO.

Thomas Zehetmair performs Zimmermann’s Violin Concerto on Saturday 15 October at Royal Festival Hall.

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When did you start playing the violin?

When I was seven. I started trying to play piano when I was three.

When did you realise you would be able to make a career out of playing the violin?

After failing terribly on the piano, there was no choice.

What are the best and hardest parts of being a solo violinist?

Best: being able to travel and visit a great variety of places and different hotels.
Worst: the same.

Could you tell us a bit about your violin and its history? Any stories?

At the moment I play on a Guadagnini that belonged to Ševčík. There is a huge mark in the varnish showing where he probably lost one eye caused by a broken string. Not a nice story - at least all his exercises and scales are already anchored in the instrument ...

You’re playing Zimmermann’s Violin Concerto with the LPO on 15 October – how would you describe the Concerto? What should the audience expect?

It is a short, concentrated and highly dramatic piece with a very colourful orchestration. There is an intense Rumba-rhythm in the finale pointing on Zimmermann's connection to and love of South American music.

Are there any particular challenges with this piece?

It is a highly artistic piece, the challenge is to give every voice and part its adequate value. I hope to raise a lot of interest in this great composer: I will also play his Solo Sonata a few days later at Wigmore Hall.

Are you looking forward to performing with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Vladimir Jurowski?

Of course! I have had the most fantastic experiences with Vladimir and the LPO, and I am very curious about how they will approach the piece.

What do you like to do besides playing the violin?

One example is swimming in the Serpentine in Hyde Park in the morning!

Hear Thomas Zehetmair perform Zimmermann’s Violin Concerto on Saturday 15 October at Royal Festival Hall. 

Book now