Widely considered one of the great violinists of the 21st century, Julia Fischer is regularly praised for her technical brilliance and versatility. Ahead of her performance with Yuri Temirkanov and the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, we take a look at her career so far.
Born in Munich to a very musical family, she started learning the violin at the age of three. She then became a pupil of violinist Ana Chumachenco at the Munich Academy of Music and Performing Arts. At the age of 11, Fischer won the Yehudi Menuhin Violin Competition, and a year later, the Eurovision Competition for Young Instrumentalists; two moments which she still claims to be the most memorable from her musical career. In an interview with Classic FM, Fischer said “those two competitions really put me on the road that I’ve taken to this day”.
Fischer has performed with prestigious orchestras all over the world including the Bavarian State Orchestra, the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Her Southbank Centre appearance won’t be the first time she has performed with the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. Their recent collaboration, with direction from conductor Yuri Temirkanov, was a masterclass in the Romantics with work by Brahms and Tchaikovsky. Here she performs Mendelssohn with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France at the Saint-Denis Festival in Paris.
Fischer is an avid chamber music performer and founded the Julia Fischer Quartet in 2010 with longtime collaborators Alexander Sitkovetsky, Nils Mönkemeyer and Benjamin Nyffenegger. All four musicians, all international soloists in their own right, performed at Musikferien at Lake Starnberg in Germany and continue to tour as a quartet all over Europe.
Since 2004, Fischer has chosen to play a Guadagnini 1742. Giovanni Guadagnini was well regarded as one of the finest craftsmen of string instruments in history. Guadagnini’s early work originates from his native city of Piacenza, where he worked until 1749. The key features of Guadagnini’s 1742 include a thick red varnish and the dramatic choice of two matched pieces of Italian maple for the back of the instrument.
As a child, the piano was Fischer’s instrument of choice. As she told Classic FM in a 2015 interview: “I wanted to play the piano – I never actually wanted to play the violin because my mother was a pianist and my brother played the piano. It was actually my mother who thought it would be nice to have a change in the family.” It was only in 1995, when she stopped practicing piano for just three months to focus on the Menuhin Competition, that her musical focus turned towards the violin. She mainly plays piano for her own pleasure but gave an accomplished, personal performance of Greig’s Piano Concerto with the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie in 2008, having given a violin recital in the first half of the concert.