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The programme will explore three sonatas for viola and piano by the German-Dutch composer Julius Röntgen (1855 - 1932), accompanied by the 'Arpeggione' Sonata by Franz Schubert (1797 - 1828).
Both musicians are currently working on a recording of Röntgen’s sonatas, which will be published with the British label NIMBUS.
Röntgen studied piano in Munich with Franz Lachner, a pupil of Franz Schubert, whose Sonata for Arpeggione will end the evening programme. As a pianist, Röntgen - amongst others - was working with Brahms, Flesch and Casals. Since he had settled in Amsterdam, he became one of the founders of the famous philharmonic Concertgebouw building, as well as a teacher for harmony and composition at the conservatory. In 1930 Röntgen received an honorary doctorate from the University of Edinburgh, where his friend Donald Francis Tovey was professor, who later described him as ‘one of the greatest masters of absolute music I have ever known’.
Herbert Kefer was born in Eisenerz, Austria, in 1960. At the age of five he received his first musical education on the violin. He continued his studies with Prof. Karl Frischenschlager in Leoben and with Prof. Karl Stierhof at the University of Music in Vienna. In 1986 he graduated with distinction.
In 1980 he founded, together with three colleagues, the Artis-Quartett. From 1984 to 1985 they spent one year in Cincinnati/Ohio with the LaSalle-Quartet to profit from their knowledge as much as possible. After that, an international career including concerts at all well known festivals began (‘Salzburger Festspiele’, ‘Schubertiade Feldkirch’, ‘Wiener Festwochen’, ‘Casals Festival’ to name a few). The quartet has made more than thirty recordings, some of which have been honoured with the Grand Prix du Disque and the Diapason d´Or.
In 1991 Herbert Kefer was appointed to head of Viola at the University of Music in Graz / Institution Oberschuetzen. From 2005-2010 he was director of the Weinklang-Festival. He is in demand as a soloist as well as a sought after partner for chamber music groups.
No matter where Markus Schirmer tours he receives audience acclaim for his charismatic musicianship and his ability to tell vivid stories with the instrument. One of his reviews sums him up precisely: “A pied piper on the piano…music that comes straight from the heart, the brain and the fingertips.”
Soon he was to take most of the prominent concert halls and festivals by storm: Wiener Musikverein, Suntory Hall/Tokyo, Wigmore Hall/London, Gewandhaus/Leipzig, Philharmonie/Berlin, Bozar/Brussels, Lucerne-, Rheingau-, La Roque d´Antheron- and Ruhr-festivals, Kissinger Sommer, Schubertiade, Stars of White Nights Festival St.Petersburg and many more. He has worked with renowned orchestras: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra London, Tokyo Symphony, Mariinsky Orchestra St.Petersburg, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, English Chamber Orchestra under Valery Gergiev, Sir Neville Marriner, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Marie Jacquot, Lord Yehudi Menuhin, Jukka Pekka Saraste, Michael Gielen, Sir Charles Mackerras, John Axelrod, James Judd, Paul Goodwin, Fabio Luisi, Philippe Jordan among others. His love affair with the unusual, his daring and his eagerness to explore new territories ensure the development of sensational events outside the traditional classical repertoire: Scurdia f.e. is an improvisation project which brings together extraordinary musicians from all over the world. For his exceptional artistic diversity Markus Schirmer was awarded with one of Austria’s most prestigious awards, the “Karl Böhm Interpretation Prize”. He received the German Record Critics’ Award for his debut CD of Schubert Sonatas. All further strongly acclaimed recordings including works by Haydn, Beethoven, Ravel, Mussorgsky and “The Mozartv Sessions” together with the uplifting US chamber orchestra A FAR CRY have won several international prizes.
In the upcoming season he will be performing at many festivals and concert series in Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland, the UK, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Denmark, Cyprus, the US, Japan, China, Sweden and Austria. Among these concerts there will be first time collaborations with Maestro Adam Fischer and the Jerusalem String Quartet. In addition to his work as a very successful Professor of Piano at the Music University in his hometown Graz - many of his students are acclaimed prizewinners - Markus Schirmer regularly gives international masterclasses for piano and is a sought after adjudicator at several prestigious piano competitions. Furthermore Markus Schirmer is the artistic director of the international music festival ARSONORE at Eggenberg Castle (UNESCO World Cultural Heritage) in Graz/Austria.