Frank Peter Zimmermann

March 8, 2006 at 04:41 PM · I was curious to hear people's thoughts about this fantastic violinist. Frank Peter Zimmermann is my favorite living violinist. I've seen him perform 5 Mozart violin concertos live, and have most of his recordings. Any stories you wish to share? Or recordings you particularly like?

Replies (62)

March 8, 2006 at 07:14 PM · He is definetely one of the great masters who was undermined by the sudden wave of prodigies and well...heifetz. ;/

Everyone suffered from heifetz disease...

He was also a great violist...Definetely a violinist i will miss hearing in his prime...(his mozart concertos you mentioned are just jewels! they are absolutely stunning coming from such a young age!)

March 8, 2006 at 07:55 PM · Patrick, how exactly did Heifetz's career impede Zimmerman's?

Heifetz died at the same time Zimmerman's career was commencing.

March 8, 2006 at 09:11 PM · ZING!

March 8, 2006 at 10:13 PM · I remember seeing him perform Prokofiev 2 at Tanglewood back in 1988, and was stunned by the brilliance and sensitivity of his playing then. I'lm still stunned by it now, and I only wish he would come to the States more often.

March 8, 2006 at 10:40 PM · Not in his prime anymore, Patrick? I've got to disagree on that. Maybe you are confusing him with someone else? As Andrew said, his career hasn't really coincided with Heifetz's at all...Frank Peter Zimmermann is now either 40 or 41 years old. Hardly an age of decline.

He is going to be playing Brahms concerto with Cleveland Orchestra this October. He just got done playing it with the New York Phil a few days ago. I'm glad that he seems to be making some US appearances lately. I would love for him to be more of a household name in the US, because he certainly deserves it.

I think my favorite recordings of his (although every single one is absolutely fantastic) are his Brahms, Beethoven, Prokofiev 1st, and all of his Mozart concerti. I do confess to having probably everything he's ever recorded, and have even ordered stuff from German companies to complete my collection. :)

If you haven't noticed, I'm a FPZ fanatic :)

March 8, 2006 at 10:58 PM · I've heard that the Zimmermann Ysaye Solo Sonatas are top notch...I will give this a listen soon.

March 9, 2006 at 12:12 AM · Patrick is confusing Zimmermann with Zuckermann.

I saw Zimmermann play the Hindermith concerto. Fantastic! For an encore he played Paganini's 24th Caprice. At the end of the piece as he was playing the final argeggio someone in the audience yelled out sh*#. It came across on the national radio broadcast clearly!

March 9, 2006 at 12:14 AM · Greetings,

or Immellman who invented one of the first rather tricky manouevers for blowing unsuspecting pilots of of the sky. Never got around to playing the violin in case the boys at the club thought he was a bit fruity...



March 9, 2006 at 12:53 PM · Hi,

Simply a sensational violinist. I have him heard many times in public. Astonishing consistency live on the same high level that one finds in is EMI recordings, live or otherwise. Just pure genius.

As for his playing more in North America... I certainly hope so for he is an excellent violinist, thoughtful musician and tasteful artist who deserves no less.


P.S. I have to confess that I am very partial to his recording of the complete works of Prokofiev for violin and piano - so beautiful!

March 9, 2006 at 04:17 AM · Christian, I agree with you about him sounding as consistent live as his recordings. My violin teacher Steve Rose toured with him soloing on Beethoven concerto on a Cleveland Orchestra tour and he told me that Zimmermann could play for hours and hours without making a single mistake. I can attest that he didn't make a single mistake in all five of the Mozart violin concertos--a pretty amazing accomplishment, I must say!

March 9, 2006 at 05:55 AM · Amy:

Zimmermann's Ysaye is quite amazing. Also, you may or may not know that Zimmermann was asked to be a contributing editor (alternative fingerings/bowings) to the HENLE edition of the Ysaye Sonatas--quite an honor, I must say.

I think Patrick is mistaking FPZ for someone else . . . clearly Zimmermann is in his prime now!

BTW, say "Hello" to Steve Rose for me! We used to play basketball together at ENCORE!


March 9, 2006 at 06:46 AM · Yes, Zimmermann's Ysaye Sonatas are another one of his trademark recordings. I did catch that he was a contributor to the Henle edition. I recently picked up a copy, but have yet to really examine it in any detail. My Ysaye sonata project has taken the back burner for a bit while I prepare for some other performances, so after everything is done with, I'll get back to that. :)

I'm so looking forward to his Brahms concerto this fall! I need to contain my excitement, since I have to wait about 7 months for it to actually happen...

I will be sure to tell Steve Rose you said hi. :)

March 9, 2006 at 03:44 PM · Zimmermann's recordings of Mozart and Mendelssohn have for a while now been my favorite of each; can't wait to see him play Brahms with the Boston Symphony in May!!!

March 10, 2006 at 07:09 AM · hmm...definetely mistaken with zukerman.

my apologizes.

BUT, i do have his mozart concerti recordings (I also have zukerman obviously from my first post) as well. Definetely GEMS like I have said.

sorry about my confusion!

(but if you take out the heifetz comment from my post...i could very well be talking about zimmerman.... ;D )

March 10, 2006 at 09:45 AM · It's nice to see that a young violinist likes someone who is not house hold name. It seems like these days it's Joshua Bell or nothing. A great artist to be sure, but variety of this kind is nice.

I have his Ysaye, I bought it the same day I bought the Kavakos recording. I'd love to see him live.

March 10, 2006 at 08:05 AM · but peter, you gotta admit that today's violinist are not exactly THAT bad... =)

March 10, 2006 at 08:33 AM · Jude-If you enjoy his Mendelssohn and Mozart, you should check out his Beethoven concerto with English Chamber Orchestra, if you haven't heard it already. His sound is really perfect for that concerto. That may be my absolute favorite recording of his, along with his Brahms.

Peter- Well, hopefully Zimmermann WILL become a household name in the not-so-distant future! I think I've already converted some of my friends into fans. :)

I'm not sure this is true, but a few people have told me that Zimmermann is a pretty big name over in Europe, at least compared to his relatively unknown status in America.

March 10, 2006 at 09:33 AM · It's like Schlomo Mintz, he's a regular in western Europe, but over here he's pretty rare.

Patrick - when did I say today's artists are bad?

James Ehnes is one of my favourite violinists.

March 10, 2006 at 10:25 AM · I'm just responding to why violinists of today do not...idolize? the players of the "golden" era. Our generation of violinists are not exactly tarnished...

March 10, 2006 at 11:03 AM · This is the violinist roster of FPZ's main agent in Germany

* Julia Fischer

* Frank Peter Zimmermann

* Viktoria Mullova

* Nikolaj Znaider

In European press and corresponding encyclopedias he is always considered amongst the top five if not top three living violinists world-wide. So, no worries he might get lost.

He was born in 1965 and plays the "ex Kreisler" Strad from 1711.


March 10, 2006 at 12:56 PM · I read in the program notes of a concert he gave several years ago he played the Dragonetti Strad (previously played by Alfredo Campoli). He seemed very happy with it. I guess he may have aquired another...

March 10, 2006 at 01:06 PM · The "ex Kreisler" strad is on loan from a German bank


March 10, 2006 at 01:45 PM · Thanks Frank. Deutsche Bank I'm sure...I remember FPZ was very keen many years ago to get hold of Milstein's Strad but there were complications...oh well.

March 10, 2006 at 01:30 PM · Nope, not Deutsche Bank, it's "Westdeutsche Landesbank", the public bank of the local state he was born in.


March 10, 2006 at 01:47 PM · Suresh,

That could change - apparently the Milstein Strad is/was/will be up for auction in London, or so I heard.


March 10, 2006 at 03:23 PM · Interesting discussion. Yes, when I heard him at Blossom with Cleveland Orch, which must've been back in the summer of 2003, he was playing the ex-Kreisler.

March 10, 2006 at 07:08 PM · FMF,

I think that this clearly demonstrates the divide between the European and American market.

Mullova came here and played Beethoven, fantastic, but not sold out like when others have come.

March 10, 2006 at 11:09 PM · Hi Suresh - Do you have more info on Campoli's Dragonetti Strad? Which recordings did he use it for? I am bowled over every time I hear Campoli's Mendelssohn VC with Boult (on a OOP Beulah CD). Sorry this is off thread. Lee

March 11, 2006 at 12:39 AM · Absolutely a fabulous player.

Reminiscent of Francescatti in his tone production.

"Born in Duisburg in 1965, he started his violin studies at the age of 5, continuing them with Valery Grodov, Sashko Gawriloff and the distinguished Dutch violinist Herman Krebbers. In 1990, he was awarded the Premio dell Accademia Musicale Chigiana, Siena (a much coveted award previously held by such artists as Gidon Kremer and Anne-Sophie Mutter)." EMI CLASSICS

March 11, 2006 at 11:24 AM · Campoli: I love the cover of one recording he made with a big cigar hanging out of his mouth.

Campoli's Beethoven was done on the Dragonetti Strad. It has a remarkably deep, earthy sound on the lower notes. It was at one time owned by a double bass player called Dragonetti, hence the name.

Campoli's Mendelssohn is great. He apparently played it over 500 times in concert, so he was well practiced. Years ago (many years ago), he came to Australia and played the Beethoven in the Melbourne Town Hall. His e string broke in the last movement but the master still continued and finished. The first recording of the Beethoven I heard was played by him.

Milstein's Strad up for auction soon?...might buy it!

But back to Zimmer...

March 11, 2006 at 05:20 PM · In response to Amy F and P Viljoen :

FPZ was a player of rare musicality and precocity in his youth, in particular with Mozart, where his recordings of the sonatas with the pianist Alexander Lonquich (a great pianist) are beautiful. While clearly a world-class violinist, not all hopes became reality later in his life (as is often the case). These days I find him trying too hard to drive home the notion that he is "the best" (whatever that would mean). Here is my impression. Many of these people get totally frustrated when they see a teenage star suddenly getting better gigs and more press than themselves and it shows. This is of course not what the public comes to hear/see, you can't blame the audience for that, even when, as a musician, you see how good that player is. (Of course the same thing could happen to any one of those youngsters. I hope I am not being too cynical here.)

March 11, 2006 at 06:31 PM · Who is the person that now owns the Milstein Strad?

March 11, 2006 at 06:59 PM · Which Milstein Strad? The "Dancla" or the "ex Dancla" or the "ex Goldmann" which he later renamed after his wife: "Marie-Therèse"?


March 12, 2006 at 12:38 AM · 'These days I find him trying too hard to drive home the notion that he is "the best"'

What do you mean?

March 12, 2006 at 10:55 AM · From some of the comments here I am wondering if some people know who Frank Peter Zimmermann is. People are talking about him as if he is a has been. Far from it. He is at the top of his game and concertizing as extensively as ever, with the best orchestras. The guy is in the same generation as Joshua Bell. I don't know what Wilhelm is talking about, but Zimmermann certainly has no reason to be frustrated about anything, nor does he have anything to prove. His recordings and performances speak for themselves. He has the most relaxed and good natured stage presence, with the cheekiest of smiles. He has excellent poise when playing and one gets the sense that he is really enjoying the performance. I bumped into him once in London when he was on his own just buying some cds in a record store. I complimented him on his Ysaye recordings and asked what he was doing here, he had some chamber gig. He seemed a bit shy and was probably a little surprised that he was recognised, but he was nice, just seemed like a really chilled out, down to earth kinda guy. There is absolutely no fuss or affectation about him at all. Here is a picture of him for those who imagine he is a geriatric.

His Ysaye cd is just sensational. Such an incredible line and musical sense. His sound is awesome on this cd, EMI really captured it well. His technique is effortless and nonchalant, he has recorded all the caprices for EMI also. Don't even think about comparing his Mozart to anyone elses. He is peerless in this department. Somehow he manages to create a beautiful sound without it being overly sweet and sickly. I would describe his sound as robust, but at the same time pure and fresh, perfect for Mozart and much of the German repetoire. His taste is impeccable. Saw him do the Prokofiev 1 at the Royal Albert hall during prom season. A real fireworks performance. An absolutely brilliant violinist.

He also has a sister, Tabea Zimmermann, who is an excellent violist and has recorded extensively with EMI and others. They did the Sinfonie Concertante together, which is also available on video.

March 12, 2006 at 11:07 AM · His recordings with Leopold Stokowski from the 30s are great! Then they fell out over Greta Garbo and things went downhill for him.

March 12, 2006 at 11:46 AM · Haha Jim.

Patrick, what you were saying about Heifetz disease does not even apply to Zukerman. Totally different generations. Zukerman is a contemporary of Perlman, who has slightly overshadowed him, not due to ability but because of personality differences. Zukerman was and probably still is capable of anything humanly possible on a violin. Had he been a contemporary of Heifetz, he would have had Milstein's career or better.

March 12, 2006 at 04:04 PM · amen, David! Great post, and thanks for sharing your stories about FPZ.

My dream is to have a lesson with FPZ someday. Anyone know if he teaches at all?

March 12, 2006 at 05:50 PM · Amy, I don't know of too many performers who do formal lessons. Many of them do masterclasses however.

If you want to study with him or at least have a few lessons, send a CD of your playing to his representation or to whatever address you can find. I'm pretty sure that you'd at least get some positive feedback.

March 12, 2006 at 09:55 PM · Amy I was on the practice floor and asked someone about it... apparently a friend of a friend had lessons with him in Switzerland?

Perhaps this does mean that he will temporarily take students.

March 13, 2006 at 07:00 AM · Thanks for your suggestions, Pieter. I will definitely consider them.

Anyone else know anything about FPZ teaching?

March 14, 2006 at 04:50 AM · One of my favorite violinists alive!

March 15, 2006 at 04:02 AM · Anyone else know any interesting stories about FPZ? I think he's an incredible violinist and would be interested in any bio information on him. Thanks.


March 15, 2006 at 01:39 PM · Sony SK94497 BUSONI Violin Concerto, Violin Sonata No.2. Frank Peter Zimmermann. This is his latest release. Unusual repertoire indeed.

March 15, 2006 at 02:39 PM · Hi,

He did record the Busoni? I saw him play it (in the same night with Mozart No. 3) with the Baltimore Symphony years ago. Phenomenal performance of this unusual concerto. Is it released worldwide yet?


March 16, 2006 at 02:24 AM · Hi Christian - Saw it as a pre-release on Check it out. Regards - Lee

March 16, 2006 at 01:53 PM · Hi,

Thanks Lee! I sure will!


March 16, 2006 at 03:12 PM · Anyone interested in FPZ's live performance of Brahms VC with the NYPhil from this month go to:


March 16, 2006 at 09:48 PM · FMF,

Is Ms. Fischer's webcast saved anywhere?

March 16, 2006 at 09:52 PM · yes, in my archive.


March 17, 2006 at 01:12 AM · Is your archive somewhere public?

I really wanted to see that, but I they took it away too fast.

Isn't she comming to Montreal next year? I thought I saw her name.

March 17, 2006 at 04:51 AM · Send me an email which recording you are interested in and I will look into it whether I can make it available to you.

I have no information about a Montreal performance at present.


March 17, 2006 at 06:23 AM · Hey all,

A while ago, I picked up a recording of Beethoven's Violin COncerto played by Zimmerman. It still is in my opinion the best recording of Beethoven I have come across. His technique is absolutely flawless, and he manages to create emotion while creating a magnificent sound. Truly the most underated living violinist of today!!!

June 4, 2007 at 04:12 PM · There is a video of Franz Peter Zimmerman doing a mozart concerto in London. Not sure if it is available to buy as I saw it broadcast on tv. As stunning playing as you will see from anyone. Also recently bought his Paganini caprices cd which I believe is from about 20 years ago. Again, quite staggering playing!

June 4, 2007 at 04:32 PM · Is this the violinist who made a recording of the the Wieniawski #1 paired with the Ernst Concerto??

June 4, 2007 at 04:44 PM · That's probably Ingolf Turban you're thinking of.

June 9, 2007 at 02:11 PM · Presently is the best as for sound, technique and absolute control!

It is a pleasure not only for ears but also for sight when he plays!!!

Ah I know from my uncle playing in RAI Orchestra that he got married with a japanese violinist (I'm sorry for you)and he has a son (14 years old) who is a prodige of the violin! I would bet with that kind of father!!!!!

Unfortunately I missed his Berg Concerto in Turin two days ago!!sigh!!!

June 9, 2007 at 03:36 PM ·

June 9, 2007 at 04:37 PM · Rather not my favorite, but a stupend violinist! Every recording I know or concert I've been to gives testimony of highest skills, big seriousness and a lot of thoughts about the music he's playing.

His wife is AFAIK Korean, not japanese, BTW. And his Ysaye album was by far my favorite... Untill I've found Yuval Yaron's CD more or less by chance...

June 10, 2007 at 07:12 PM · Regarding the Milstein Strad. This was just purchased last year by a Jerry Kohl in LA. I doubt the its up for sale anytime soon. And yes this the same instrument that Milstein played for about 40 or so years and renamed it the Theresa after his wife. Beautiful instrument. See the Profile DVD in which he plays this instrument in a number of pieces. Outstanding.

June 12, 2007 at 06:09 PM · I touched this violin and was too awed to play more than a few notes. Martin Chalifour noodled some Bach G minor Presto on it for me, and it made me wonder if it was the violin used on the famous Milstein Bach recording. It certainly sounded like it, but maybe it was the power of suggestion.

June 13, 2007 at 02:39 AM · Maia, I think this is the violin that Milstein played the Bach on. I have seen videos and the markings seem to be the same. I know that Martin Chalifour and some other violinists "auditioned" the Milstein Strad and some others in the Disney for Mr Kohl to help him decide which to purchase. It was apparently the consesus that the Milstein Strad was far superior than the others. Cozio does not say what the purchase price was, but I'm sure it was quite a premium.

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