Photos: Rui Camilo



Tabea Zimmermann, who considers herself “a musician who plays the viola”, is one of the most beloved and renowned artists of our time. As artist in residence of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra for the 2019/20 season and of the Berliner Philharmoniker in 2020/2021 – Tabea Zimmermann is widely acknowledged for her unfailingly high standards and tireless enthusiasm for sharing her love of music with audiences. Fellow musicians and listeners alike value her charismatic personality and deep musical understanding. Her work with orchestras is also guided by the ideals of her experience as a chamber musician, where artistic integrity is paramount.

As a soloist, she regularly works with the world’s most prominent orchestras such as the Orchestre de Paris, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. In recent seasons, she has held residencies in Weimar, Luxembourg and Hamburg, as well as with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra and with the Frankfurt Museum Society; she likewise maintains her close collaboration with Ensemble Resonanz, where she was artist-in-residence for two years.

In addition to the residency with the Berliner Philharmoniker, highlights of the 2020 /2021 season included the opening concert of the Wien Modern Festival with the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna conducted by Leo Hussain (premiering Enno Poppe’s Filz), performances of York Höller’s specially written Concerto for Viola and Orchestra at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam with the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest conducted by Ingo Metzmacher, and a tour of Brahm’s Sextets together with the Belcea Quartet and Jean-Guihen Queyras.

Tabea Zimmermann has inspired many contemporary composers to write for the viola and thereby introduced numerous new works into the concert and chamber music repertoire. In April 1994, she premiered György Ligeti’s Sonata for Solo Viola, which was dedicated to her. Her interpretation of the work, which she subsequently performed in London, Paris, Jerusalem, Amsterdam and Japan, was received with enthusiasm by audiences and the press. Since then, she has also premiered Heinz Holliger’s Recicanto for viola and orchestra, Wolfgang Rihm’s second viola concerto Über die Linie IV, Monh by Georges Lentz, Notte di pasqua by Frank Michael Beyer, the Double Concerto by Bruno Mantovani with Antoine Tamestit and, together with Ensemble Resonanz, Enno Poppe’s Filz. The world premiere of Michael Jarrell’s Viola Concerto at the 2017 Festival Musica Strasbourg with the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire under Pascal Rophé was followed by further performances of the piece with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra under Ingo Metzmacher, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Pascal Rophé and the Konzerthausorchester Berlin under Mario Venzago. In 2020, together with Christian Gerhaher, she premiered Wolfgang Rihm’s Stabat Mater at the Musikfest Berlin and musica viva of the Bayerischer Rundfunk.

A total of more than 50 CDs, released by labels such as Harmonia Mundi, EMI, Teldec and Deutsche Grammophon, document Tabea Zimmermann’s extensive musical output. After the success of her solo CD in 2009 with works by Reger and Bach, as released by myrios classics, for which she was awarded an Echo Klassik award as Instrumentalist of the Year, the label has since released three more albums together with pianists Kirill Gerstein and Thomas Hoppe. Tabea Zimmermann used the Hindemith Year in 2013 as an opportunity to present a highly acclaimed complete recording of all of Paul Hindemith’s viola works. A concert at the BeethovenHaus in Bonn, in which she played Beethoven’s own viola, accompanied by Hartmut Höll, was recorded and released by Ars Musici. The Arcanto Quartet’s highly acclaimed recordings with Daniel Sepec, Tabea Zimmermann and Jean-Guihen Queyras, released on the Harmonia Mundi label, include works by Bartók, Brahms, Ravel, Dutilleux, Debussy, Schubert and Mozart. In the year 2020, she released Cantilena with the pianist Javier Perianes on harmonia mundi and her second solo CD with works by J.S. Bach und György Kurtág on myrios. In 2021, she released works by Enno Poppe with Ensemble Resonanz on wergo as well as by Michael Jarrell, Brett Dean and J.S. Bach on BIS Records.

Tabea Zimmermann has received numerous awards recognising her artistic work, both in Germany and abroad: She has been honoured with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Frankfurt Music Prize, the Hessian Culture Prize, the Rheingau Music Prize, the International Prize of the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, the Paul Hindemith Prize of the City of Hanau and Artist of the Year of the ICMA International Classical Music Awards 2017. Since 2013, Tabea Zimmermann has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Hindemith Foundation. Her tenure as Chair of the Board of the Beethoven-Haus Bonn Association (2013–2020) culminated in 2020 with Beethoven’s jubilee, celebrated with a three-week festival giving performances of almost all Beethoven’s chamber music.

Tabea Zimmermann received her first viola lessons at the age of three and began playing the piano two years later. Her training with Ulrich Koch at the Musikhochschule Freiburg was followed by short, intensive studies with Sándor Végh at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. A series of competition successes crowned her training, including first prizes at the international competitions in Geneva in 1982, in Budapest in 1984 and at the Maurice Vieux competition in Paris in 1983, where she was awarded the prize of a viola made by the contemporary violin maker Etienne Vatelot, which became her primary instrument until 2019, when she switched to a custom-made instrument by the violin maker Patrick Robin. From 1987 until his death in 2000, she performed regularly with her husband David Shallon. She lives in Berlin and is the mother of three teenage children. Tabea Zimmermann has already held professorships at the Musikhochschule Saarbrücken and at the Frankfurt Hochschule für Musik; since October 2002, she has been a professor at the Hochschule für Musik “Hanns Eisler” in Berlin.

This biography is to be reproduced without any changes, omissions or additions, unless expressly authorised by the artist management: karsten witt music management