Sharing a tradition of chamber musicBorn in Riga, Latvia, Gidon Kremer began studying the violin at the age of four with his father and grandfather, both former professional violinists. He won many awards as a youth, including the 1967 Queen Elizabeth Competition of Belgium, among the most prestigious international classical music competitions. Since defecting to West Germany in 1980, Kremer has appeared on every major concert stage with the leading orchestras of the United States and Europe.
Kremer’s repertoire is extensive, including a comprehensive list of classical and romantic violin pieces, as well as works by contemporary composers. More than 100 records represent his ceaseless musical journey. Composers of the former Soviet Union such as Alfred Schnittke, Arvo Part, Sofia Gubaidulina and Edison Denisov have been introduced to Western audiences largely through Kremer’s efforts. He contributed greatly to promoting the music of 20th-century composers, including Schnittke and Part, as well as John Adams and Astor Piazzolla. Kremer’s 1996 Piazzolla recording in particular ignited the tango boom in classical circles.
In 1981, Kremer founded an international chamber music festival in Lockenhaus, Austria, which has served as a forum for young musicians to present challenging and innovative chamber music in concert. The festival in Lockenhaus was later renamed “Kremerata Musica” after him.
In 1996 Kremer established the Kremerata Baltica, a chamber orchestra to foster outstanding young musicians from the Baltic states, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. “I founded this chamber orchestra not just to suit my personal and musical interests, but to activate the depressed musical world in the Baltic states, my home,” Kremer was quoted as saying in a press release from Seoul Arts Center.
By challenging the standardized classical music repertory with his free spirit and originality, Kremer has built up his orchestra to become one of the most sought-after ensembles in classical music. Kremerata Baltica has no permanent city base, and performs about 60 concerts over six tours annually, throughout Asia, Europe and the Americas.
The theme of Kremer’s Seoul concert is Schubert. Borrowing the concept from his 2002 album with Kremerata Baltica, “After Mozart,” which won a Grammy, the program includes works of Schubert as well as contemporary pieces that were influenced by him, such as Bartulis’s “I Like Schubert.”
“To perform the arranged works, the perfect understanding of the original classic pieces and the contemporary interpretation based on those findings are needed,” said Kremer in the press release. “Some view the arranged works in a contemporary sense as (an) addition (to) the original works...
“However, in my view, the arranged works by contemporary musicians are valuable (in the sense) that they give (a) unique insight into the original pieces to the audiences.”
Kremer and his orchestra will perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Concert Hall of Seoul Arts Center. Tickets cost 30,000 won ($25) to 100,000 won. For information, call (02) 1588-7890 or visit www.ticketlink.co.kr.
by Kim Hae-young