Kolja Blacher

© B. Buehmann
© B. Buehmann

Kolja Blacher was born in Berlin, and received his first violin lesson at the age of four. He later went to New York City to study at the Juilliard School of Music with Dorothy DeLay, and then with Sandor Vegh in Salzburg. Following his first concert with the "Deutsche Sinfonie Orchester Berlin" when seventeen, he made his debut-performance with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 1988. This marked the beginning of a truly remarkable and diverse career.

As a soloist Blacher has performed with significant orchestras worldwide, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Dresden Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, the NDR and the WDR Symphony, “Gewandhausorchester Leipzig”, Yomiuri Nippon Orchestra Tokio, KBS Orchestra Seoul, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra Manchester, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony, Symphony Orchestra St. Gallen, Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Oslo Filharmonien and the Real Filarmonica de Galicia.

He has performed with conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Alan Gilbert, Daniel Harding, Vladimir Jurowski, Dimitri Kitajenko, Diego Matheusz, Kent Nagano, Matthias Pintscher, Karl-Heinz Steffens und Markus Stenz.

Besides his work as a soloist, he also has collaborated with many musicians like Vassily Lobanov, Natalia Gutmann, Wolfram Christ and Alois Posch. These performances have brought him to London, Paris, Zürich, Baden-Baden, Berlin, Florence, and many other venues around the world.

Blacher has also recorded highly acclaimed CD's. His joint recording with Claudio Abbado and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra of the Violin Concertos by Berg and Stravinsky as well as the violin concerto by Boris Blacher were honored with the “Diapason d’Or” award. Furthermore, the German Record Critique (Deutsche Schallplattenkritik) awarded its annual prize to Blacher’s CD with Jasha Nemtsov with works by Weinberg and Schostakowitsch. In 2011, Kolja Blacher released his well-received recording of Schumann’s Violin concerto ( both as musical director and soloist) once again with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. It was reviewed by the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as follows:

“This is utterly unique: Whoever listens to this work for the very first time will never forget the special sound at the beginning. And when the soloist Blacher enters, the impression of a whole new auditory experience repeats – so keenly tense is the sound of his violin with a nearly forgotten immediateness of expression.”

Besides the classical-romantic repertoire (Beethoven, Brahms, Elgar, Schumann), Blacher also devotes his time to the concertos of Kurt Weill (recorded with Claudio Abbado and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra), Berio, Hartmann, Henze, Hindemith, Martinu, Lutoslawski, Szymanowski, Schönberg or Magnus Lindberg. In addition, his extraordinary projects include a recording of solo-sonatas by Bach in combination with texts by Andreas Gryphius or Stravinsky’s “The Soldier’s Tale”, in which Blacher himself takes the role of both a violinist and an actor, directed by Ruth Berghaus. Even when it comes to Blacher’s activities in the chamber orchestra field, he explores the rarer projects, for instance the violin sonatas by Beethoven (“Kreutzer”) and Schostakowitsch, both transcribed violin and chamber orchestra.

More recently “Play-Direct” concerts have captured Blacher's interest. Leading the orchestra from the desk of the concertmaster, he has worked regularely with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, the Festival Strings Lucerne, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the Camerata Bern, and the Orchestra of the "Komische Oper" in Berlin.

Blacher teaches with great passion at the music academy “Hanns Eisler” in his hometown of Berlin.

His violin is the “Tritton” Stradivari made in 1730. It is on generous loan from Miss Kimiko Powers