Linus Roth, violinist

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music and who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

My parents were both music teachers and church musicians. Lots of my childhood was spent in Baroque churches in the Southwest of Germany, seeing my parents conduct choirs and play the organ. My mother brought home a small violin when I was six years old.  As she was a cello teacher for young children, she knew how to keep me interested in this. When I was 10 I knew I wanted to be a professional violinist and from this point on I was lucky to have most helpful and inspiring teachers: Nicolas Chumachenco from a early age on, then Zakhar Bron and Ana Chumachenco, who was probably the strongest influence in my last years as a student.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

It’s an ongoing challenge to improve your playing every day. There’s no standing still and just keeping to the level you haveyou improve constantly or your level goes down; there’s nothing in between.

Of which performances/recordings are you most proud? 

There’s no one recording I´m particularly proud of in terms of my playing, but I’m very proud of having performed the world premiere recording of Weinberg’s Complete Works for Violin and Piano with pianist José Gallardo at a time when this composer was still not as well-known as he is today and not that much in fashion at that time. This was followed by recording the concerto, the concertino with chamber orchestra, and the three solo sonatas, and I’m still continuing to record more Weinberg. There were three short pieces for violin found over the past years and I was lucky to perform the world premiere of them and then also to record them. 

Which particular works do you think you perform best? 

Whenever I have the chance to perform with great musicians, who have something personal to say musically. So it’s not so much about which work, but rather with whom I perform, which makes me perform at my best. I do feel good about being all alone on stage in solo repertoire as well. It means total freedom but also having all the responsibility for a performance on your own shoulders, which is something I do enjoy.

What do you do off stage that provides inspiration on stage? 

Spending time with people you love is what is always the most inspiring. So is travelling and simply meeting new people, having conversations. Everything that is part of life can be seen as inspiration, because we play the way we are and we are made out of the experiences of our daily life.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season? 

When it comes to recital programmes, this is easier – it’s whatever José and I feel like we want to put in the programme. When it comes to repertoire with orchestrathings can get a bit more difficult. The great wellknown concertos are always wonderful to perform, but for the past 9 years, I chose to spend a lot of effort in promoting the Weinberg Violin Concerto whenever I had the chance. I believe strongly in this work –  it’s one of the greatest violin concertos of the 20th century besides those by Shostakovich, Bartok, Berg and Prokofiev. Happily, my persistence has already led to many orchestra managers and conductors agreeing after they actually heard it live and seeing what success it was with audiences

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why? 

I love London’s Wigmore Hall for its acoustic and unique atmosphere, as well as the Bibliothekssaal in Ochsenhausen, where my festival Schwäbischer Frühling takes place and where I recorded my last 4 CDs. There is also the inner courtyard of the monastery in Ibiza where my other music festival takes place, which has the most special ambience you can imagine: perfect acoustic thanks to the four walls around it, you listen to music in the open air under a sky full of stars, while you hear the sea crashing on the rocks of the nearby cliff.  Of the rather newer and bigger halls, I’d like to mention Katowice and Wroclaw Philharmonic Halls, as both are astonishing acoustically.

What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music audiences/listeners?

I think the work that so many orchestras, concert venues and musicians do with outreach and education programmes is great, but I see the biggest problems being in the declining quantity and especially quality of music education in schools. This should be discussed seriously with the politicians responsible, who unfortunately don’t seem to be aware how important this part of the education system is. 

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Performing the German premiere of Weinberg’s Violin Concerto. I was really very nervous, but luckily it was a huge success. It’s also memorable every time to perform all 6 Solo Sonatas and Partitas by Bach in one day. It seems to change you as a person…  you leave the concert hall differently than when you entered it. The experience is huge, and many audience members tell me they feel the same when listening to this cycle. Bach and his genius is greater than us and broadens our minds. 

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Whenever I feel that I reached and touched an audience with the music I played, or when I get told by an audience member that I did so. This is the closest I can get to feeling successful as a musician. 

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians? 

The main goal should be to serve the music, not the music serving the artist.

What has lockdown taught you as a musician? 

That there’s nothing more important in life – and therefore also in music – than freedom. 

Where would you like to be in 10 years? 

On stage making music, wherever it may be. Stage is what feels closest to being home for me.

What is your most treasured possession? 

You would think my answer is “my violin”. But I can´t say that because first of all its too expensive for me to buy and secondly it rather feels like I’m in the possession of the violin itself!

What is your present state of mind?

Today it´s February 2021. I´m waiting…waiting for the world and people to get back the normality that was February 2020. 

Virtuoso Dances, with Linus Roth, violin, and José Gallardo, piano, is released on 5 March 2021 on the Evil Penguin label. 

Linus Roth, who received the ECHO KLASSIK Award as ‘Best Newcomer’ 2006 for his début CD on the label EMI, was awarded his second ECHO award in 2017 for his recording of the violin concertos by Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky with the London Symphony Orchestra under Thomas Sanderling.

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