Thomas Zehetmair has fashioned a highly successful and broadly eclectic career. He is a virtuoso violinist of international repute; a chamber player who has founded his own critically acclaimed quartet; a conductor of front-rank status; and a musician whose repertory in any role reaches from Baroque-era fare, particularly J.S. Bach, up through Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schumann, and Brahms, and extending to Bartók, Schoenberg, and Berg, as well as to contemporary composers like (oboist/composer) Heinz Holliger, Valentin Silvestrov, Isang Yun, and Wilhelm Killmayer. In the concertos of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, and other pre-modern composers, Zehetmair often provides his own cadenzas, and in these works and those of Bach he frequently appears as soloist while conducting the orchestra. He also employs certain historic performance practices in early works, having studied such details with Nikolaus Harnoncourt. In the chamber realm he has collaborated with world-class musicians like pianists Alfred Brendel and Cyprien Katsaris and violinist Gidon Kremer. As a soloist Zehetmair has appeared with the leading orchestras across the globe, including the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic orchestras; the Dresden State, NHK (Tokyo), Cleveland, and Philadelphia orchestras; and the Boston Symphony. Zehetmair the conductor has led mainly chamber ensembles, including the Camerata Bern and Northern Sinfonia. He has made numerous recordings spread over a variety of labels, including EMI, Philips, Teldec, Warner Classics, Avie, Berlin Classics, and others.
Thomas Zehetmair was born in Salzburg, Austria, on November 23, 1961. He began violin lessons at five with his parents, both talented violinists. His advanced studies were at the Salzburg Mozarteum under his father, Helmut. He took further instruction on the violin from Nathan Milstein and Max Rostal.
Zehetmair worked busily at establishing an international reputation throughout the 1980s, and by 1990 was regularly appearing to acclaim at major concert venues from New York to Berlin to Tokyo. In 1993 he took on his first conducting post when he became co-director of the Camerata Bern. The following year he founded the Zehetmair Quartet, thereafter dividing his time among solo performances, chamber concerts, and conducting.
Zehetmair became music director of the Northern Sinfonia, beginning with the 2002-2003 season, and of the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris in 2012. Among Zehetmair's later recordings are the 2005 Berlin Classics CD of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, with the Camerata Bern, and the 2007 Avie recording of the Schumann Fourth Symphony and Brahms Violin Concerto, where Zehetmair appears with the Northern Sinfonia both as soloist (in the Brahms) and conductor.