Carolin Widmann

©Lennard Ruehle


A wonderfully versatile musician, Carolin Widmann’s activities span the great classical concerti, new commissions specially written for her, solo recitals, a wide variety of chamber music and, increasingly, period instrument performances, including play/direction from the violin.

Widmann was awarded the Bayerischer Staatspreis for music in 2017, honouring her individuality and exceptional musicianship. Widmann was also the recipient of an International Classical Music Award (Concerto category) for her critically acclaimed recording of both Mendelssohn’s and Schumann’s Violin Concertos with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, released in August 2016 by ECM and which Widmann herself conducted from the violin.

Highlights of Widmann’s 2019/20 season include return invitations to Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Dresden Philharmoniker, BBC Symphony Orchestra London and NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester with Alan Gilbert at the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and Beethovenfest Bonn. Widmann will also return to the São Paulo Symphony for a play/direct project, as well as to the Alte Oper Frankfurt for her debut with Accademia Bizantia on baroque violin. Other debuts this season include the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Mahler Chamber and Scottish Chamber Orchestras, as well as the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra for her New York concerto debut.

Named ‘Musician of the Year’ at the International Classical Music Awards 2013, Ms Widmann has played with Leipzig Gewandhaus, Orchestre National de France, Tonhalle Zurich, Czech Philharmonic, Vienna Radio Symphony, London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Bayerische Rundfunk, with distinguished conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Riccardo Chailly, Sir Roger Norrington, Vladimir Jurowski, Marek Janowski, and Pablo Heras-Casado. She also appears at such widely known festivals as Berliner Festspiele, Salzburg, Lucerne, Festival d’ Automne and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Since 2006, she has been professor of violin at Leipzig’s University of Music and Theatre “Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy”.


Performance Schedule

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    21:00 30 Jun 2020 Auditorium Parco della Musica, ROME

    LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN Sonata for violin and piano in G major Op. 30 No. 3
    LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major Op. 47 No. 9 ‘Kreutzer’

    Conductor & piano: Alexander Lonquich
    Ensemble: Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia

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    19:30 12 Jul 2020 Wigmore Hall, LONDON

    WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART: Duo for violin and viola in G K423
    ROBERT SCHUMANN: Piano Quartet in E flat Op. 47
    LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN: Duet for viola and cello in E flat WoO. 32 ‘mit zwei obligaten Augengläsern’
    JOHANNES BRAHMS: Piano Quartet No. 3 in C minor Op. 60

    This concert is for Parkinson’s UK.
    Concert in Memory of David Kaye.

    Viola: Amihai Grosz
    Cello: Sheku Kanneh-Mason
    Piano: Isata Kanneh-Mason

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    20:00 15 Jul 2020 Het Concertgebouw N.V., AMSTERDAM

    FELIX MENDELSSOHN Concerto for Violin in E Minor, Op.64

    Conductor: Jan Willem de Vriend
    Ensemble: Stuttgarter Philharmoniker

From The Green Room


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    Label: ECM New Series

    Release Date: 26 Aug 16

    MENDELSSOHN Concerto for violin and orchestra, op.64
    SCHUMANN Violin Concerto WoO23

    Carolin Widmann, violin
    Chamber Orchestra of Europe

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    Jurowski conducts Anderson

    Label: London Philharmonic Orchestra LPO – 0089

    Release Date: 01 Mar 16

    Julian Anderson (born 1967)
    In lieblicher Bläue

    Vladimir Jurowski conductor
    Carolin Widmann violin
    London Philharmonic Orchestra

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    Label: ECM New Series

    Release Date: 15 Jan 13

    Phantasy of Spring, Carolin Widmann, Simon Lepper, ECM New Series 2113, 2009

    Morton Feldman: Spring of Chosroes
    Bernd Alois Zimmermann: Sonata for Violin and Piano
    Arnold Schönberg: Phantasy for violin with piano accompaniment, op.47

    Iannis Xenakis: Dikhthas

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    Label: ECM Records (Universal)

    Release Date: 01 Jan 12

    Fantasia C major, Rondo h Minor, Sonata A major,
    Carolin Widmann, Alexander Lonquich,

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    Label: ECM New Series

    Release Date: 15 Jan 09

    Strata, Carolin Widmann, Jörg Widmann, Nordic Symphony Orchestra, Anu Tali, ECM New Series 2040, 2009

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    Label: ECM New Series

    Release Date: 01 Jan 08

    The Violin Sonatas, Carolin Widmann, Denes Varjon, ECM New Series 2057, 2008

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    Label: Telos Music Records

    Release Date: 01 Jan 06

    Reflections I, Violin Solo, Carolin Widmann, Telos Music Records, 2006

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    14 Nov 19 PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No.2
    Queens Hall Edinburgh, City Halls Glasgow, Aberdeen Music Hall

    with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Maxim Emelyanychev.


    Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto also bristled with orchestral detail, from the macabre dance of the first movement to the tick-tock winds of the second and the raucous waddle of the third. The violinist Carolin Widmann was an excellent partner, a model of control in the busy passagework and the long-breathed lyricism of the violin’s melodic lines. And then, as if to top it off, Emelyanychev took to the piano to accompany her in a delicately understated performance of Ravel’s Habanera.”

    ***** Simon Thompson, The Times, 18 November 2019

    “The stark simplicity of the start of the slow movement was exquisite, and Widmann’s way with the snakes and ladders of the third riveting.”

    **** Keith Bruce, The Herald Scotland, 18 November 2019


    “The Prokofiev was a triumph of restraint. The unassuming mellowness of the opening solo melody (soloist Carolin Widmann) was magically reflected in the orchestra’s sotto voce response, a teasing, temperate quality sustained throughout.”

    Ken Walton, The Scotsman, 19 November 2019

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    14 Sep 19 BERG Violin Concerto
    Wigmore Hall, London

    with the O/Modernt Chamber Orchestra & Hugo Ticciati for the Wigmore Hall’s Beethoven 250 Festival.

    “In the Violin Concerto the sensual and supernatural textures of Berg’s writing were intensified by playing of great distinction. Carolin Widmann was immersed in the band, physically, but musically she simply shimmered above them: an outstanding performance, conveying the drama and transcendence of love and loss, here the death of Manon Gropius, daughter of Alma Mahler and Walter Gropius.”

    Amanda-Jane Doran, Classical Source, 14 September 2019

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    21 Feb 19 STRAVINSKY Violin Concerto
    City Halls Glasgow

    With the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Ilan Volkov.

    “… a splendidly characterful account by Carolin Widmann. Strongly projected and with impeccably chiselled articulation, Widmann managed to balance an apt sense of ironic detachment with rich, impassioned playing, slithering through the second movement and finding a moving rawness to the slow movement.”

    **** David Kettle, The Scotsman, 22 February 2019

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    08 Nov 18 SCHUMANN Violin Concerto in D minor
    Philharmonie Berlin

    with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin and Dima Slobodeniouk.

    “… Zu jedem Zeitpunkt aber gestaltet Widmann die Solostimme mit völliger Textfreiheit und so natürlich, dass man ihr jedes Wort glaubt. Sie erzählt anhaltend spannend, formt ihren Ton zerbrechlich dünn, aufgebracht kratzig oder samtig weich. Alles mit beeindruckender Präzision in Artikulation und Phrasierung…”

    Jonas Zerweck, Der Taggespiegel, 9 November 2018

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    13 Oct 18 MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E minor
    Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

    With the BBC Philharmonic and Ben Gernon.

    “… [Carolin] rose to the challenge to deliver a commanding, engaging performance, flaunting her immense skill and sensitive musicality. Treating the audience to high registers that rang through the hall and indulgent tones from the instrument’s lowest notes, Widmann’s performance oozed in charm, dexterity and musicality that made this work seem completely afresh.”

    Holly Harrison, Bachtrack, 14 October 2018

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    Gut Varrel, Stuhr

    with the NDR Radiophilharmonie.

    “[Carolin] zeigte sich darin als großartige Solistin, die völlig mit der Geige und der Musik eins wurde und wahrlich Schwerstarbeit leistete … Mit großem Applaus endete ein traumhaftes Konzert mit einer Ausnahmemusikerin und einem grandiosen Orchester.”

    Angelika Kratz,, 22 September 2017


    “Die Ausnahmegeigerin Carolin Widmann präsentierte das Vertraute in neuem Licht und machte neugierig auf Unerforschtes, jene Stücke, die nicht oft in Konzerten auftauchen … Carolin Widmanns enorme interpretatorische Gestaltungskraft begeisterte dabei die etwa 200 Zuhörer in dem Violinkonzert Mendelssohns, einem der wichtigsten und populärsten Konzerte der Musikliteratur, dessen blühende Melodik, federnde Rhythmik und feinnervige Instrumentation die Gäste in elegisch, noble Sphären führte.”

    Anke Bayer-Thiemig, Regionale Rundschau, 22 September 2017 

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    10 Sep 17 BERG Violin Concerto
    Congresshalle Saarbrucken

    with the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern & Pietari Inkinen.

    “Carolin Widmann spielt das grandios, mit reicher Expressivität. Sie schafft es, der Schicksalshärte den nötigen rauen Ton zu geben. Ihr geht‘s nicht um Schönheit, sie will Wahrhaftigkeit. Die DRP ist ihr dabei kongenialer Begleiter, von Inkinen, selbst ein Ausnahme-Geiger, mit sensiblem Dirigat stets auf Augenhöhe gehalten. Und nach dieser übermächtigen Klage ist es fast tröstlich, dass Carolin Widmann den reinen Bach-Choral als Zugabe noch einmal spielt gemeinsam mit Solo-Bratscher Benjamin Rivinius. Anspruch mit Klasse also: So darf es gerne weitergehen”

    Oliver Schwambach, Saarbrücker Zeitung, 10 September 2017

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    03 Feb 17 MICHAEL ZEV GORDON Violin Concerto (World Premiere): 03 February 2017

    with the BBC Symphony Orchestra & Sakari Oramo, Barbican.

    “The work calls for the soloist to spend a lot of time in the stratospheric reaches of the violin, but even when Widmann digs into her instrument she still creates rapturous tone.”
    **** Ivan Hewett & John Allison, The Telegraph, 06 February 2017

    “Carolin Widmann was on the composer’s wavelength throughout. Her ability to maintain concentration and tonal focus across long, winding lines, ranging freely across the instrument’s range, was clearly a source of inspiration, and a key to the success of this performance.”
    **** Gavin Dixon,, 04 February 2017

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    28 Oct 16 Mendelssohn Concert: 28 October 2016
    with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra & ALEXANDER SHELLEY, Cambridge Corn Exchange.
    “Mendelssohn’s Concerto in E minor for violin followed and Carolin  Widmann showed why she is so highly rated. The pitch and tone of her 18th century Guadagnini violin came over beautifully as did her astonishing hand speed. It earned her a rapturous ovation and her encore was a Sarabande by Bach.”

    Jon Aveling, HCR, 7 November 2016

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    27 May 16 Anderson CD Jurowski conducts Anderson

    with London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall.

    “The sumptuous In lieblicher Bläue (2015) for violin and orchestra is the standout
    piece here, given a reading by its dedicatee Carolin Widmann that is so supple,
    considered and committed that it’s hard to believe it’s a live capture of the
    work’s very first performance (reviewed in the June 2015 issue).”
    David Kettle, The Strad, 20 May 2016

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    12 Apr 16 Alban Berg Violin Concerto

    with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra & Christoph von Dohnanyi.

    “The program also marked the Australian debut of German violinist Carolin Widmann, who has performed the Berg concerto with Dohnanyi and the Philharmonia.  She proved the perfect soloist in this exquisite work by perhaps the most approachable of the serialist composers of the Second Viennese School.  Widmann demonstrated superb composure, accuracy and taste in this performance and hopefully she will return so Sydney audiences can hear more of her.”
    Daily Telegraph (Australia)

    “Widmann’s reading of Alban Berg’s last completed work, his Violin Concerto, sounded deeply emotional – almost romantic. Her playing was powerful when needed (for example, in much of the Allegro’s pseudo-cadenza), but also, quietly serene in the appropriate places: for several minutes at the beginning of the first movement, she refrained from vibrating any note, producing a transparently pure sound quality, as she allowed the famous open strings motif and its transformations to soar and decline. These colours may well have been on the composer’s mind when he wrote on the title page: “in memory of an angel”.”
    Zoltán Szabó, Bachtrack

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    01 Oct 15 Alban Berg Violin Concerto

    with the Philharmonia Orchestra & Christoph von Dohnanyi.

    “And so Carolin Widmann and the Philharmonia’s performance was a revelation. Expressive, warm, rich, terrifying, menacing, explosive, even moments of humour; this was a full-blooded exploration of the gamut of human emotion. Dohnányi pulled out textures and opened up the work, showing and communicating a deep understanding of its complexity as well as its expressiveness. Widmann devoured the music with total ardour, switching between warm, rich, dark, lyrical and folky tones with ease. The entry of the chorale melody midway through the second movement felt completely organic, as did its transition to the original Bach realisation on the woodwinds. The melting of the soloist into the main body of the first violins towards the end was particularly lovely too.”

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    with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra & Stephan Mai.

    “… her tone cuts like a fine blade and then fades away, makes the music sound like a memory and also like composed defiance.”

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    17 Jun 15 Julian Anderson In Lieblicher Bläue

    “Soloist Carolin Widmann played this demanding score with tremendous energy and involvement, bending and weaving as her violin countered the communal shrieks from the orchestra. Her command of the instrument is remarkable, right down to the extended techniques the score requires.
    The title and concept of this new piece, jointly commissioned from Morlot’s former teacher in London by the Seattle Symphony, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester, are derived from a poem by Friedrich Hölderlin. It’s not a traditional violin concerto; it has elements of a symphonic theater piece, in which the soloist starts playing offstage, uttering exploratory twitters and chirps, and gradually moves toward the center stage. In some respects, “In lieblicher Bläue” (“In lovely blue”) then pits the soloist against the entire orchestra in an uneven struggle that gradually subsides, as the violinist ventures a more lyrical response to the overwhelming and colorful panoply of sounds, and ultimately turns her back on the audience.”
    Seattle Times


Hans Abrahamsen: Double concerto for violin, piano and string orchestra
Julian Anderson: In Lieblicher Bläue
Thomas Adès: Concentric Paths
Bach: Violin concerto E major
Bach: Violin concert A minor
Bach: Double concerto for two violins
Bach: Double concerto for oboe and violin
Bartók: Violin concerto No. 2
Beethoven: Violin concerto
Beethoven: Triple concerto for piano, violin, cello
Alban Berg: Violin concerto ‘Im Andenken eines Engels’
Brahms: Violin concerto
Brahms: Double concerto for violin and cello
Bruch: Violin concerto No. 1
Dvorak: Violin concerto
Pascal Dusapin: Aufgang
Morton Feldman: Violin and Orchestra(recorded for ECM Records)
Anders Hillborg: Violin Concerto
Korngold: Violin concerto
Ligeti: Violin Concerto
Mendelssohn: Violin concerto in E minor
Mendelssohn: Violin concerto in D minor
Mozart: All solo concerti
Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola
Mozart: Haffner Serenade
Mozart: Rondo in C major
Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No.  1
Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 2
Wolfgang Rihm: ‘Coll’Arco’
Wolfgang Rihm: Triple Concerto (Fremdes Licht for soprano, clarinet, violin)
Rebecca Saunders: Still
Schumann: Violin concerto
Sibelius: Violin concerto

CD Reviews

Carolin Widmann/Chamber Orchestra of Europe (ECM Records)

“Alternative Album of the Year”
“Carolin Widmann, with the most penetrating, unfussy account of the Mendelssohn concerto I have heard in years. Normally blazed away with an excess of swagger and bravura, the concerto is taken by Widmann with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe back to its intimate origins in the Mendelssohn parlour, played as domestic conversation and communication. So much pleasure, so much pain. A recording to last a lifetime.”
Norman Lebrecht, Musical Toronto

Morton Feldman
Carolin Widmann/Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra  /  Emilio Pomarico (ECM Records)
“This performance is perfectly judged: Carolin Widmann is a fabulously assured and poetic soloist, taking minute care over the smallest, apparently most insignificant details, and Emilio Pomarico ensures that the orchestral playing is equally refined and scrupulous. It’s a beautiful, haunting disc.”
Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 16th May 2013

“For fifty minutes, all routine is suspended, orchestral convulsions taking turns with spasms from the violin, nightmarish cluster chords bursting into feverish solo passages – whatever Feldman had in his system at the time, he was sweating, coughing and choking it out. Just when debate on “Violin and Orchestra” seemed closed and content with trivia – that it was initially titled “Why Webern?”, that it marked the seminal turn in his oeuvre towards his landmark long works – Carolin Widmann and the Frankfurt RSO, which coincidentally premiered the work in 1979, are opening it up again. Their performance reveals layers behind layers, curtains behind curtains, Pianissississimos behind Pianississimos, suggesting a piece which is dense and massive, but never monolithic, with percussive dance segments and successions of short sequences creating a surreal rather than outright dark mood. The often heard claim that “Violin and Orchestra” is not to be regarded as a concerto, perpetuated from one generation of critics to the next, seems bewilderingly out of place here. In fact, the basic premise of a concerto – of pitting one performer against a larger instrumental body – has hardly ever been presented in more striking terms than here, with Feldman even scoring large sections of the solo part in high, glassy, otherworldly pitches to set it apart. The orchestral emanations aren’t accompanying, following or leading the soloist, they are entering and leaving at a will of their own, like sudden apparitions, as though they were only real inside the dream of the violinist. These are mere associations, of course, but they are not without value: To get to the heart of Feldman, one must stop asking questions and keep playing – and that is precisely what Widmann has done.”
Tobias Fischer/tokafi

Carolin Widmann/Dénés Várjon (ECM Records)
“Violinist Carolin Widmann’s discs for ECM seem to alternate between centuries.  Her fine recordings of the Schumann Violin Sonatas with Dénés Várjon were followed by an outstanding collection that took in Schoenberg, Zimmermann, Feldman and Xenakis.  Now she has gone back to the 19th Century for this equally exceptional Schubert recital with pianist Alexander Lonquich.  The dominant work is the C major Fantasy D934, one of the less familiar of Schubert’s late masterpieces but just as extraordinary a single-movement telescoping of musical form as the more celebrated Wandered Fantasy for piano.
The heart of the work is its central set of variations but it’s the slow introduction which is recapitulated as the fourth of the fifth sections that casts a shadow across the entire work.  The disc is worth hearing just for the way in which Widmann colours that opening alone, reducing her tone to the slenderest thread, minimising her vibrato and gradually breathing life in the work. It’s extraordinary playing, full of imagination and profound intelligence, and just as powerfully effective in the smaller-scale works, the earlier A major Sonata D574 and the rondo in B minor.”
Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 17th February 2012

Interviews and Features

Carolin Widmann talks about her new recording of Morton Feldman’s Violin and Orchestra.