Violnist, co Director
“One quickly hears that this soloist has something to say” is the verdict of “Treffpunkt Klassik” on “SWR 2”. That's no coincidence. Because the playing of a musician reflects the experiences of a lifetime. And that was extremely moving for Franziska Pietsch. Musically as well as humanly. At the young age of 12 she was already celebrated as a soloist in major violin concertos and recorded virtuoso pieces by Paganini and Sarasate. As a concert master in various orchestras she was immersed in the world of great symphonic works and opera before turning her attention fully to chamber music for a few years – particularly the duo, piano trio and string trio.
Today the circle has long since come full - and Franziska Pietsch impresses with Bach's sonatas and partitas for solo violin as well as with Prokofiev's violin concertos, for the recording of which she was awarded the German Record Critics' Quarterly Prize.
"Tonal sophistication, lyrical sensitivity, striking approach and effectively played out contrasts", confirmed "Fono Forum" and particularly emphasized Franziska Pietsch's creativity and her wealth of expressive facets.
The English magazine "Gramophone" was deeply moved by the special mixture of "raw expression" and "“special intimacy”". Regardless of the composer whose music she plays—be it Bach or Bartók, Grieg or Penderecki, Strauss or Shostakovich—Franziska Pietsch performs with an intensity which captivates without seeming sensationalist. Furthermore, when she indulges in her love for the string trio in the “Trio Lirico”, she is able to hold back when appropriate. This maturity may be founded in her personal history.
Born into a family of musicians in East Berlin, Franziska Pietsch was discovered and encouraged early on. She studied with the famous teacher Werner Scholz, made her debut as a soloist at the “Komische Oper” in Berlin at the age of eleven and a year later won the first prize of the “Bach Competition” for children and adolescents in Leipzig. While preparing for the “Menuhin Competition” in London, her father stayed in West Germany following a concert tour. It was two years before Franziska, her mother and her sister were allowed to leave the GDR, two years that were marked by reprisals, no violin lessons and no concerts. But also years in which she had to ask herself the fundamental questions - which way in life she wanted to go and what role music should play in it. Among other sources of inspiration, Johann Sebastian Bach's music was particularly important.
Starting over in 'the West' was difficult despite the fact that Ulf Hoelscher, one of the most renowned violinists in Germany, took her under his wing as a mentor. After winning the Maria Canals competition in 1989, she made the leap to New York at the age of 20 and studied at the Juilliard School with the legendary Dorothy DeLay. Moreover, she was inspired by master classes by Wanda Wilkomirska, Herman Krebbers, and Ruggiero Ricci.
Back in Germany, she took over the position of first concert master in the Wuppertal Symphony Orchestra for a few years and made guest appearances in the same position at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, the Frankfurt Opera, the Solistes Europèens and the Orchester Philharmonique de Luxembourg ( deuxieme soliste), among others.
From 2000 until 2014 she led the “Trio Testore” with which she recorded all piano trios by Brahms and founded the “Mai Klassik” festival. She has been playing in the Trio Lirico since 2015, currently with violist Atilla Aldemir and cellist Hila Karni. To this day, playing chamber music is just as important to her as working as a soloist with large orchestras. Her most recent partners include the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the Kraków Philharmonic, and the Dortmund Concert Hall. Among the conductors she has collaborated with, there are such prominent names as Antoni Wit, Horst Stein, Arpad Joò, Moshe Atzmon, Julia Jones, Toshiyuki Kamioka, and Christian Macelaru.
Franziska Pietsch is also a welcome guest at chamber music festivals, such as the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, or the Mettlach Chamber Music Days. Her CD recordings have received an outstanding response and have won awards. In 2021, Franziska Pietsch received the coveted "International Classical Music Award" for her CD "Fantasque", which she recorded with pianist Josu de Solaun.
A few years ago, a new facet was added to Franziska Pietsch's artistic work: in 2015 she published her own poems for the first time in a book with the artist Nasrah Nefer.
With her innovative project "musikMachtpoesie", she goes on an unconventional musical journey with a pianist and actor. In the harmonious alternation of music and language, the audience should be able to gain a deeper understanding of music as the poetic mouthpiece of the soul.
Inspired by this unusual concert format, she has now founded her own festival "WINTERKLASSIK".
The inaugural event will take place in January 2024 at the Sorbian Museum Bautzen, a special place where different cultures live and an ideal starting point for an exciting journey to music, language, and poetry.
She plays a violin made by Carlo Antonio Testore, Milan 1751.