NEW TO YOUTUBE | Frank Peter Zimmermann’s 1992 Performance of Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1

Aged 26 at the time, the German violinist performed with conductor Lorin Maazel and La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra in La Scala, Milan

(Photo credit: Irène Zandel)

This performance marked the first time Frank Peter Zimmermann played in the illustrious La Scala opera house, but certainly not the first time playing this piece with Lorin Maazel.

"With this piece, we could play anywhere with any orchestra, it was really very special. Maazel always asked me to play this concerto, which he liked very much. It was one of his favourites," Zimmermann told The Violin Channel.

"When I was about 16 years old in 1981, I had my Berlin debut, which was taped by the radio in Berlin. Maazel heard this tape and invited me spontaneously (without knowing me), to make my debut in 1983 with the Wiener Philharmoniker in Salzburg.

"Afterward, Maazel chose me as a soloist on many occasions and I made debuts with him all over the world. He was a violinist, and let me do what I wanted. He was very relaxed with me and he was always very kind, so I owe him a lot for helping start my career," he reflected. 

The performance in Milan resonated with Zimmermann. He shares, "I have a very good memory of it because my family came, my wife, my parents and my first son Sergei, who was one year old, came to Milan to listen to it. It was a very special 3-4 days I spent there including the concert."

Growing up with the famous Russian recording made by David Oistrakh of Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1, Zimmermann confessed that he played the piece in a very Romantic way when he was young. 

"But later, when I came back to it just recently a couple of years ago and played it with Mariss Jansons and the Bavarian radio orchestra, I approached the piece completely in a much harsher, or let’s say sarcastic way."

Reflecting on his artistic grown, he said that over the years, "all these debut pieces at that time, let’s say Mendelssohn, Dvorak, or Beethoven, develop more and more to a kind of slimmer, more classic, more risky direction; that is what changed."

Having debuted with major orchestras and conductors from a young age, he maintains: "My career developed in a very natural, not too fast, way. If I would have to restart 1992, I would probably do the same again."

As the pandemic continues to hinder concerts, Zimmermann stays hopeful. "Let’s hope after COVID, musical life with all the great orchestras and all the great concert venues will restart and get back to normal. This is the only wish I have, because without classical music, the world would be much poorer."