A highlight of the Austrian Cultural Forum’s fall program will be the appearance of Austrian cellist Friedrich Kleinhapl on October 1, 2009 at the Embassy of Austria in Washington, D.C. This will be followed by a concert tour through the United States and Canada.
Known to the music world as “one of the most promising musicians of a new generation,” forty-five year-old Friedrich Kleinhapl has earned a reputation as a “highly gifted” and a soon-to-be-world-class cellist. Endorsed by renowned musicians Claudio Abbado and Yehudi Menuhin, he is known for his unusual versatility – playing chamber music and appearing frequently as soloist in suites and concertos. Along with German pianist Andreas Woyke, he has been experimenting and improvising with contemporary 20th and 21st century musical styles from classical to jazz to pop and ethnic music. He finished his classical education with honors, studied with the finest mentors, and has won several international competitions. He has produced many CDs, the latest of which was the interpretation of three Beethoven Cello Sonatas (March 2009) which received the highest honors, such as the “Excellentia Award,” given by the Luxemburg magazine, Pizzicato. In 2008 the Austrian National Bank lent him the cello “Giovanni Battista Guadagnini, Piacenza 1743 “ex von Zweygberg,” belonging to a highly valuable string instrument collection owned by the Bank. He feels that the cello “has deeply enriched the sound of his playing.”
Kleinhapl describes himself as a “romantic, eruptive” cellist – strongly expressive and highly passionate in interpretation, endowed with the need to communicate his enthusiasm for music to his audience. In a recent interview with the magazine Pizzicato, he concedes that his guileless embrace of all things new and willingness to perform premieres was shaped by physical deficiencies suffered during the initial period of his life and teenage years. Over the span of his lifetime he has performed Rozsa, Rota, Honegger, Korngold and Friedrich Gulda’s Concerto for Cello and Wind Orchestra, as well as Neumeister’s Fantasie for Cello and Big Band.
Born in 1965 in Graz, he recalls his parents playing classical music regularly in the home. He took up the cello when he was fascinated by it from the first moment he heard its sound on the radio. His interest in music was recognized by his parents who encouraged an early education in music beginning at the age of four. Initially a student at the music conservatory, he played for many years in the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra under the direction of Claudio Abbado. At age fourteen he transferred to the Musikhochschule in Graz where he studied under Philippe Muller, guest professor from Paris. Muller recognized his talent and encouraged him to continue studying with him in Paris where he was offered a two-year scholarship. There he met Pierre Fournier, Yehudi Menuhin and Paul Tortelier, all of whom inspired him. Paul Tortelier was especially active in support of his talent as a soloist.
Kleinhapl also served as artistic director for Austrian Radio and Television (ORF) chamber music concert series, “Eggenberger Schlosskonzerte” since 2003. He has been playing with German pianist Andreas Woyke as of 2003, producing numerous CDs.
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