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Franziska Pietsch

„…a carefully wrought structure that’s never jemmied out of shape. The Melodia is beautifully phrased; the closing Presto a frenzied will o‘-the-wisp where the quarter-tones are an integrated part of the narrative.” (Gramophone, December 2018)

“It sounds as if the Bartok Sonata were written specifically for Franziska Pietsch, and when she plays, her whole soul seems to be in the music.” (WDR 3 tonart, fall 2018)

At first glance, Franziska Pietsch’s career seems to have been a fairy tale of good fortune. Born into a musical family in East Berlin – both her parents were violinists – she was celebrated as a child prodigy. Under the tutelage of Prof. Werner Scholz from Berlin’s Hanns Eisler Hochschule for Music, Pietsch began at a young age to win contests such as the Bach Competition in Leipzig and made her debut at Berlin’s Comic Opera at the age of eleven. There followed a number of years in the “Virtuoso Circus”, as she calls it in hindsight. She performed the violin concertos of Bruch, Lalo, Sibelius, and Paganini with the finest orchestras in East Germany; at the age of 12, she made her first recordings for the East German Radio (including Sarasate’s Gypsy Airs). But this fairy tale ended abruptly in 1984 when her father defected to West Germany during a concert tour. Two years would pass before his family was allowed to join him, and these two years would change the course of Franziska Pietsch’s life. From one day to the next, she was on her own, as all state-sponsored studies and scholarships were suspended.

“And so, at the age of 14, I was forced to ask myself a number of truly fundamental questions. Why do I want to be a musician? What does music really mean? What do I want to do with my life?” Franziska Pietsch found answers in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. For an entire year, with no instruction whatsoever, she devoted herself exclusively to Bach’s solo works, distancing herself quite consciously from the “circus” life of a child prodigy.

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