David Garrett

“You have to be a world-class violinist in order to record a good crossover CD.” (David Garrett)

“Only those artists can afford to do crossover who have already made a name for themselves in the classical music scene.” David Garrett sets high quality standards. And he knows what he is talking about. In Fall 2007 the recording artist made his appearance in Germany with the release of his crossover album Virtuoso and he has been redefining standards in the classic and crossover scene step by step ever since. The native of Aachen, son of a German jurist and an American prima ballerina, can allow himself to sound out the limits. After all, at age 32, he already looks back on a matchless career.

He gets his first violin at age four and makes his first appearance with the Hamburg Philharmonics at the early age of ten. At age thirteen he is the youngest artist to be awarded an exclusive contract with the Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft. In 1999, at the height of his career, the shooting star redirects his energy, deciding to leave his predetermined path as a classical violinist and move to New York – not to take a time-out but rather to place his musical proficiency on a theoretical foundation and perfect his technique. He enrolls at the prestigious Julliard School, studying musicology and composition.

Instruction with Itzhak Perlmann lends his performance completely new facets. David Garrett’s particular enthusiasm for studying composition earns him a distinction in 2003 when he wins the renowned Composition Competition of Julliard School with a fugue composed in the style of Johann Sebastian Bach. In doing so, he lays the foundation for what have become legendary arrangements. His highly esteemed American composition teacher Eric Ewazen has said of him “As a violinist, his spectacular, heartfelt and expressive playing already dazzled – even when he was a student – those of us who had the great pleasure of teaching him, and we recognized his extraordinary gifts and his amazing talent.”

Since completing his studies, the visionary violinist has committed himself to a clearly defined goal – introducing young people to the classics and kindling enthusiasm for reputedly serious music. Combining classical elements with those of pop and rock as well as rhythm and blues is a means to this end. “Regarding the crossover pieces I arrange, I strive to attain a level of performance at least equal to that expected of classical works. When another violinist looks at one of my scores he must say “The violin part is damned good. It is so difficult I’d have to practice it for hours before being able to play it.” Concerning his ambitions, David Garrett puts it succinctly. “You have to be a world-class violinist in order to record a good crossover CD. This poses an even greater challenge than classical music does because you want to present things to your listeners in a completely new light while putting on a superb violinist’s performance. The great virtuosos from Paganini to Heifetz did just that. Anything else would be merely mindless commercialism.”

Whereas many conservative contemporaries wonder whether uncompromising excellence and popularity, art and commerce can or may even be reconciled, David Garrett long ago proved that it is possible, enthralling listeners of all ages. The same new, incredibly electrifying spirit pervades lofty philharmonic halls holding sold-out classical concerts and open-air arenas staging crossover programs. The people sense that they are being taken seriously, that a person is performing who approaches the task with utmost discipline while creating an awareness for various musical genres and styles. Garrett’s desire to diminish the awe of classical music felt by young audiences in particular, to spark a whirlwind in the music scene while striving to sweep as many people off their feet as he possibly can is fulfilled to an overwhelming degree.

David Garrett is not only a technically brilliant recording artist who has received the praise and support of such eminent violin virtuosos as Isaac Stern, Yehudi Menuhin and in particular Ida Haendel. His greatness is also reflected in his mental countenance. As one of the few classically versed artists he has an undistorted perspective on tradition and modernity. Thinking in terms of fixed categories is foreign to him. “In my eye, the Paganinis, Liszts and Chopins of the 19th century were the world’s first rock stars,” he says. Garrett knows the secrets of great music and understands that the more substance a work has, the more possibilities an artist has to make it his own and place it in new contexts. “Bach arranged Vivaldi and Mozart arranged Turkish marches. Beethoven wanted to enchant the masses too, employing musical means to this end. Great composers have always incorporated elements which were popular in their day and there is nothing reprehensible about that. On the contrary.”

Thus his musical expertise inspired him to interlace Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal with Mozart’s Turkish March – and he did so before Michael Jackson’s death, before the world paid tribute to this exceptional talent. David Garrett sets trends of his own because he is also ahead of his time. And yet he knows that talent and a command of one’s instrument do not suffice alone if one is to intellectually and spiritually penetrate a work and gain a grasp of it. A background knowledge of music theory enables the well-traveled artist to analyze and scrutinize scores. “Many great works are unbelievably rich in diverse possibilities. A certain passage in Mozart’s Turkish March and one in Smooth Criminal have almost the same harmonic progression. This goes to show that apart from instrumentalization, music has hardly changed at all over the past 250 years. We continue to work with the same material.”

Only this mixture of perfectionism and openness, thoroughgoingness and foresight explain the overwhelming success which David Garrett has had since the release of Virtuoso. With this recording the artist presented the public with his vision of how various musical styles can be creatively fused on a high artistic level without compromising musical standards. The succession of his own compositions interspersed with arrangements of classical pieces ranging from the virtuoso “Paganini Rhapsody,” based on Caprice No. 24 by Niccolò Paganini, to the emotionally intense rock classic “Nothing Else Matters” by “Metallica” stunned the music world. Advocates and critics sparked off a dialogue about musical orientations which has rekindled and refocused interest in how music communicates itself.

The artist was rewarded with an ECHO Classic 2008 in the category “Classic without Borders.” The “Encore” followed fast on this first success in October 2008, even surpassing the former release as a follow-up album. In the USA, “David Garrett” stayed number one in the classical and classical crossover charts for months.

With the album “Classic Romance”, released in November 2009, the violin virtuoso returned to classic turf. He created a special, very personal CD centering around Mendelssohn’s violin concerto, accompanied by seven small works from the Classic and Romantic periods. “Classic Romance” had an enormous resonance, winning Garrett the ECHO Classic 2010 in the category “Bestseller of the Year”. “Classical music is where my heart lies and I am elated that I succeed in bringing my message across to the audience.”

In June 2010 all previous musical activities of the star violinist culminated in a further exciting challenge: Rock Symphonies. At the legendary concert at Park Wuhlheide in Berlin, David Garrett delivered an unprecedentedly individual “musical address” to his multi-generational audience. Classics from all epochs – from the Baroque Age to modern times, from Bach to Nirvana – are presented in a newly arranged symphonic idiom. Once again his courage to embrace new things was rewarded.

In 2011 he received no less than two ECHO awards for his “Rock Symphonies”. The DVD “David Garrett: Rock Symphonies – Open Air Live” was distinguished in the category “Best Domestic DVD Production” and as “Best Artist” in the category “Rock/Pop Domestic”. “To date,” Garrett says, “‘Rock Symphonies’ is my most extraordinary and ambitious project. For this reason I look forward to getting together with the guys in my band, the orchestra and the audience on the 2011 Tour. For me, these people are all part of one large musical family.”

After his successful Rock Symphonies Tour in 2011, David went back to his classical roots. In the autumn, the star-violinist was Honorary Judge in the category violin at the International Music Competition Cologne. He fulfilled his lifetime-dream with the recording of the DECCA album “Legacy”, which was first released in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. On this CD you can listen to the Beethoven Violin-Concerto, which David considers this “the ultimate masterpiece of the violin repertoire”, plus various works by Fritz Kreisler.
Kreisler was not only a famous violinist, but also an exceptional composer. He wrote two beautiful solo cadenzas for the Beethoven Concerto, a longer one for the first movement and a somewhat shorter one for the third movement. David has always admired Kreisler’s profound understanding of music and has considered him an iconic figure. It seemed only natural to follow this tradition and play both Kreisler cadenzas.

Legacy proved to be an exceptional success. As soon as the album was released, it reached rank 6 on the overall-charts in Germany, the highest-ranking instrumental classical album in German chart history. In January 2012, the album reached gold-status. Legacy was released in the UK on 12th March and in the US on June 05.

© Dr. Burkhard und Sibylle Schäfer

David is playing the “A. Busch” Stradivarius (1716)

Displaying 341 Comments

  1. Posted by xandrea    05/10/2015 00:29

    Please come to Sydney Australia!

  2. Posted by Gliazzurri    06/09/2015 19:31

    il Massimo! Bravissimo! Bis, Bis, Bis! Kommen Sie bitte in die Vereinigten Staaten!

  3. Posted by Helena Rodrigues    02/08/2015 17:04

    David, you’re a very special and lovely person. And a gorgeous artist! Brazil’s waits for your return!

  4. Posted by sheyla    23/07/2015 01:05

    I love your special style and your amazing performance!

  5. Posted by Angela    11/07/2015 18:22

    You make my soul alive! Your passion and dedication, you trully are beautiful! Serenade my soul which is beyond any music ever!

  6. Posted by Galina Galanos    16/06/2015 02:56

    Comparisons are always unfortunate, and comparing David to any other violinist or composer would be unfair to both of them. To David, because he is still growing as a musician, and will most certainly achieve much higher levels; and to the one he may be compared to, because it is not easy to stand up to a man who, at his age, has achieved so much.

  7. Posted by Kirsten von Heusinger    04/06/2015 20:53

    als ich zum ersten Mal zufaellig vor ein paar Wochen in Berlin in einem CD-Laden auf die Musik des wunderschoenen, interessanten” in aller Munde”-Geigers stiess, und CD’s kaufte, das Paganini-Album, Music und Encore wusste ich wirklich nicht , auf was ich mich da eingelassen hatte.Ich hoerte zuerst ” smooth criminal” und hoerte es sofort laut !Und dann ging es so weiter…….aufmerksam und ganz und gar staunend hoerte ich weiter zu, und konnte mich immer weniger dem Zauber entziehen.Leicht und temperamentvoll und so klar, und dann wieder so sanft und tief bei “Summertime” mit diesem schmeichelnden Ton!Es ist unglaublich wie er die Toene herauslockt, wohlwissend , dass er sie beherrscht.,und zu diesem irren Tempo peitschen kann.Und dann kam” Chelsea Girl” und ich dachte , jetzt bleibt mein Herz stehen!———Inzwischen weiss ich viel mehr durch all die Talkshows und Filme , durch den Paganini-Film und all die Interviews, und bin ganz erschlagen.——-Ich bin einfach hingerissen von diesem Menschen, der so unendlich viel gibt und bewirkt, und ich wuensche Dir , lieber David das schoenste Leben!—Love–K.————Lebe im Moment in London und hoffe das Konzert besuchen zu koennen.

  8. Posted by varsha    24/05/2015 10:35

    Can I simply say that I love you? :D
    I adore your music, I can’t even tell you how much in love am I with your music. Your music is so powerful that it gives me electric shocks the second you start playing! Thank you for creating such music. You are my FAVOURITE artist!

  9. Posted by Jacci    14/05/2015 18:03

    Lieber David, deine Musik tut der Seele gut und gibt Kraft. Ich war im Juni 2013 bei deinem Konzert in Dresden, viele konnten nicht verstehen warum du nach dem Hochwasser denn noch ein Konzert geben kannst. Aber das du es trotz der vielen negativen Kritik getan hast finde ich ganz richtig! Ich hatte zu dem Zeitpunkt mit Depressionen zu kämpfen und deine Musik hat mir soviel gegeben! Wie du schon sagst kann die Musik Hoffnung geben, Kraft schenken und für mich ist sie ein gutes Mittel um in Tagträumen zu versinken. So viele Menschen leben in Hektik und Stress und vergessen sich selbst und ihre Mitmenschen dabei. Vielen ist nicht bewusst an wie vielen Dingen man sich erfreuen kann! Seit mich letztes Jahr der Krebs getroffen hat, (mit 32, leider habe ich deswegen auch nicht zu deinem Konzert in Köln kommen können und musste alles stornieren) lebe ich noch intensiver und versuche mich an noch mehr Dingen zu erfreuen. Jetzt gerade in diesem Moment habe ich wieder einen Tiefpunkt, also hieß es Kopfhörer aufsetzen, deine Musik an, Lautstärke hoch … es heilt zwar keine Wunden und lässt nicht alles vergessen aber es tut so unglaublich gut … und unterstützt dabei , wieder mit sich selber ins Reine zu kommen … Danke David für deine harte Arbeit und das du es so vielen Menschen auf der Welt teilst, egal in welcher Situation!

  10. Posted by carolina    02/05/2015 01:24

    I saw the movie twice in my local neighborhood cinema. For me, the best part of the film were the concert scenes, Close-ups of David playing Paganini, simply riveting and thrilling. The screenplay left a bit to be desired. i.e. Paganini’s love interest, the actress said OK and SURE in the same scene, maybe the same phrase. Modern American slang not
    what you expect in 19th century England

  11. Posted by meltem    17/04/2015 08:56

    David garret com and enlighten hope istanbul!

  12. Posted by ayub pradana    11/04/2015 09:08

    david garret is an inspiring & talented man… from him i can learn about “concistency & sacrifice” to reach my dream to be real,… may David Garret come to Indonesia??? i think it’s like dream come true,… :) or i must get my postgraduate in Germany?, so i can met him someday… hopefully… amiin,… :)

  13. Posted by Jerilyn Miripol    04/04/2015 00:31

    Your work. Is so passionate. I think you are one of the greatest violinists I have ever heard. I accidentally discover your extraordinary film on cable’/s “on demand.” I cannot understand why it was not in the theaters. I am a poet and your gift inspired me. Thank you!!

  14. Posted by Virginia    11/03/2015 17:00

    Du bist unglaublich….

  15. Posted by Grethelm    09/02/2015 23:24

    yo no creo que David Garrett sea el Paganini del siglo XXI, yo pienso que David Garrett el el mejor violinista y compositor de todos los tiempos…si bien en sus entrevistas David dice que en un honor que lo comparen con Paganini, no me parece justo, creo que el se ha ganado a pulso y con mucho talento y genialidad el titulo del Mejor violinista y compositor ….!!!!!

  16. Posted by Angelina    09/02/2015 10:11

    I have just discovered you David. Brilliant – Genius – you are beautiful and inspiring. Wish I knew about you while I was living in Germany for a few years – I would definitely have attended your concerts! Can you please come to Australia? Alles gute Angelina

  17. Posted by tugce_15    03/02/2015 16:07

    ı wish that you would come to İstanbul because you are amazing and you are my idol i hope that İstanbul will be on your list next year :)

  18. Posted by Malu    01/02/2015 15:03

    I can not wait to see you in Argentina!!!!! i’m so excited to heard that is so possible!!! mi cumpleaños lo paso con David!!! un geniooooo me encanto!

  19. Posted by Garcia a    10/01/2015 19:35

    Bonjours David,
    j’aime tellement votre musique, j’écoute chaque soir au moins un de vos morceaux, mon rêve serait de vous voir à un de vos concerts, j’aimerais énormément que vous fassiez une tournée en France pour avoir peu être la chance d’y assister. Je joue du violon et mon objectif serait d’être au même niveau que vous, ça serait aussi mon plus grand rêve. Merci

  20. Posted by Sue in Seattle    06/12/2014 01:54

    I can’t wait for your movie to be available on DVD in the US. It didn’t play in a theater anywhere near me and I would really like to see it. I bought the music from it as soon as it was available. Thank you for making such wonderful music! You are my favorite artist.

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