Tanja Becker-Bender, violin
Born in Stuttgart, Germany, into a family of scientists and musicians of Bohemian origin, Tanja Becker-Bender burst onto the violinists’ scene already as a young girl, winning 1st prize in Italy’s Lipizer competition at age 18, as well as top prize in the Geneva International competition shortly after. These and further prizes such as Tokyo’s renowned Bunkamura Orchard Hall Award and prizes in the international competitions of Genoa, Houston, and Chimay in Belgium, evened out her path of regular solo performances with eminent orchestras such as the Tokyo Philharmonic, Jerusalem Symphony, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, and Houston Symphony, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart of the SWR, Konzerthaus Orchestra Berlin, and the Vienna, Zurich and Prague Chamber orchestras, as well as the English Chamber Orchestra and the Orchestra Leopoldinun Wroclaw. Conductors she has collaborated with include Kurt Masur, Gerd Albrecht, Peter Ruzicka, Fabio Luisi, Uriel Segal, Hartmut Haenchen, Hubert Soudant, Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi and Carlos Miguel Prieto. Regular festival performances include those of Schleswig Holstein, Mecklenburg Vorpommern, Dresdner Musikfestspiele, Rheingau, Engadin, West Cork, Chautauqua (US), and Kronberg, with chamber music partners such as Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, Boris Pergamenschikow, Ralf Gothóni, Eduard Brunner, Andrzej Bauer, Miguel da Silva, Lawrence Power, Claudio Bohórquez, Dimitry Ashkenazy, and many others. An ongoing duo collaboration with pianist Péter Nagy constitutes an integral part of her work, also leading to permanent projects of exploring new repertoire and old repertoire in a new way, as well as recording projects.
Tanja Becker-Bender has studied in Stuttgart, London, Vienna, and New York, with some of the world’s leading quartet musicians: Wilhelm Melcher (Melos Quartett), David Takeno, Günter Pichler (Alban Berg Quartett), Robert Mann (Juilliard String Quartet) – also finding great inspiration through Bartók’s student György Sándor in New York, as well as regular work with Eberhard Feltz in Berlin and Ferenc Rados in Budapest.
Besides the core pieces of the violin repertoire, she performes a wide range of styles and genres, from Baroque period instruments to collaborations with composers of our time such as Cristóbal Halffter, Peter Ruzicka, Peteris Vasks and Michael Gielen, and first performances of works by Rolf Hempel, Alexander Goehr, Gabriel Iranyi and Benedict Mason. Performances of Concertos such as those of Max Reger, of Kurt Weill and the landmark work by Ligeti belong to her notable recent projects.
In 2009, a fruitful collaboration with the British label Hyperion began. Her recording of Paganini’s 24 Capricci was a great success right away, being praised by critics around the world and awarded the “Editor’s Choice” of both Gramophone and Classic FM magazines. Subsequently, her next recordings set out to explore lesser known repertoire: Schulhoff, Hindemith, Respighi, as well as the Violin Concertos by Reger, by Busoni and by Strauss. These have received distincions by the “BBC Music Magazine”, the International Record Review, German “Fonoforum”, and French “Classica”. Recently, a double disc album with Bartók’s complete works for violin and piano was released by the SWR music label. In 2017, a recording of the Concertos by Weill, Krenek and Rudi Stephan will be released, recorded together with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin.
After having performed on generously loaned instruments of the Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben for many years, Tanja Becker-Bender is now most happy to have found her own two instruments, on which she performs: a violin of Gioffredo Cappa (1685) and a violin by Patrick Robin (2013).
In 2006 she was appointed one of the youngest-ever professors in Germany, at the University of Music Saarland in Saarbrücken, taking the chair which Maxim Vengerov held before. Since 2009, she is a professor of violin at the University for Music and Theater in Hamburg. Students of her class have become laureates at competitions such as the Queen Elisabeth in Brussels, Leopold Mozart in Augsburg, Lipizer in Italy, Tonali in Hamburg, and are playing in renowned orchestras.