“One quickly hears that this soloist has something to say” is the verdict of “Treffpunkt Klassik” on “SWR 2”. That’s no coincidence. Because the playing of a musician reflects the experiences of a lifetime. And that was extremely moving for Franziska Pietsch. Musically as well as humanly. At the young age of 12 she was already celebrated as a soloist in major violin concertos and recorded virtuoso pieces by Paganini and Sarasate. As a concertmaster in various orchestras she was immersed in the world of great symphonic works and opera before turning her attention fully to chamber music for a few years – particularly the duo, piano trio and string trio.
Today the circle has long since come full - and Franziska Pietsch impresses with Bach's sonatas and partitas for solo violin as well as with Prokofiev's violin concertos, for the recording of which she was awarded the German Record Critics' Quarterly Prize.
"Tonal sophistication, lyrical sensitivity, striking approach and effectively played out contrasts", confirmed "Fono Forum" and particularly emphasized Franziska Pietsch's creativity and her wealth of expressive facets.
The English magazine "Gramophone" was deeply moved by the special mixture of "raw expression" and "“special Innigkeit”". Regardless of the composer whose music she plays—be it Bach or Bartók, Grieg or Penderecki, Strauss or Schostakowitsch—Franziska Pietsch performs with an intensity which captivates without seeming sensationalist. Furthermore, when she indulges in her love for the string trio in the “Trio Lirico”, she is able to hold back when appropriate. This maturity may be founded in her personal history.
Born into a family of musicians in East Berlin, Franziska Pietsch was discovered and encouraged early on. She studied with the famous teacher Werner Scholz, made her debut as a soloist at the “Komische Oper” in Berlin at the age of eleven and a year later won the first prize of the “Bach Competition” for children and adolescents in Leipzig. While preparing for the “Menuhin Competition” in London, her father remained in West Germany following a concert tour. It was two years before Franziska, her mother and her sister were allowed to leave the GDR, two years that were marked by reprisals, no violin lessons and no concerts. But also years in which she had to ask herself the fundamental questions - which way in life she wanted to go and what role music should play in it. Among other sources of inspiration, Johann Sebastian Bach’s music was particularly important.
Starting over in ‘the West’ was difficult despite the fact that Ulf Hoelscher, one of the most renowned violinists in Germany, took her under his wing as a mentor. After winning the Maria Canals competition in 1989, she made the leap to New York at the age of 20 and studied at the Juilliard School with the legendary Dorothy DeLay. Moreover, she was inspired by master classes by Wanda Wilkomirska, Herman Krebbers, and Ruggiero Ricci.
Back in Germany, she took over the position of first concertmaster in the Wuppertal Symphony Orchestra for a few years and made guest appearances in the same position at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, the Frankfurt Opera, the Solistes Europèens and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg (deuxième soliste), among others.
From 2000 until 2014 she led the “Trio Testore” with which she recorded all piano trios by Brahms and founded the “Mai Klassik” festival. She has been playing in the Trio Lirico since 2015, currently in the line-up with violist Sophia Reuter and cellist Hila Karni. Chamber music remains as important to Franziska Pietsch as her soloistic collaborations with major orchestras. Most recently she has, among others, played with the Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the Krakauer Philharmonie, Budapester Philharmonie and the Dortmunder Konzerthaus. Acclaimed conductors with whom she has played include Antoni Wit, Horst Stein, Arapd Joò, Moshe Atzmon, and Christian Macelaru.
Franziska Pietsch is also a welcome guest at chamber music festivals such as the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, or the Mettlacher Kammermusiktagen, where she performed with the likes of Jacques Ammon, Gustav Rivinius, or Hariolf Schlichtig. Her CD recordings have received an outstanding response and have won awards, most recently the two Bartók violin sonatas with pianist Maki Hayashida were awarded a pizzicato supersonic.
A few years ago, a new facet was added to Franziska Pietsch's artistic work: she published a book of poems in a collaboration with the artist Nasrah Nefer in 2015 and developed the unconventional concert evening “musikMACHTposie” in 2019, where she invites the audience on a thrilling journey of music, speech, and poetry, accompanied by a pianist and an actor.
In 2021, Franziska Pietsch received the coveted “International Classic Music Award” for her CD “Fantasque”, which she recorded with her pianist Josu de Solaun.
In Oktober 2023 the CD „Hungarian Heights“ will be released – works form Erno Dohnányi, Zoltán Kodály and Franz Liszt with Franziska Pietsch, violin, Maki Hayashida, piano, und Hila Carni, cello.
She plays a violin made by Carlo Antonio Testore, Milan 1751.