From about the mid-'80s, Frank Peter Zimmermann has been recognized as one of the leading German violinists, not for the usual reasons alone -- formidable technical skills and interpretive acumen -- but also for his ability to adapt his style to accommodate the demands of a broad range of repertory, from J.S. Bach to contemporary composers. He has expressed a special love for the music of Mozart and Prokofiev, two composers of obviously disparate styles whose works Zimmermann has performed to international acclaim. He has also played the standard concertos of Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Sibelius, and Stravinsky, as well as solo and chamber works by Bach, Debussy, and Ysaÿe. In addition, Zimmermann has delved into more adventurous fare, taking on works by Ligeti, Matthias Pintscher, and other contemporary composers. Zimmermann has made numerous recordings for many labels, including EMI, Sony, Philips, and Teldec.
Frank Peter Zimmermann was born in Duisburg, Germany, on February 27, 1965. He was extremely precocious: at five years of age he began playing the violin, and at 10 gave his first orchestral concert playing the Mozart G major Concerto, K. 216. In 1976 he won the Youth Makes Music Competition in Germany. His roster of teachers is impressive: Valery Gradov (at Folkwang Hochschule in Essen), Saschko Gawriloff (at the Berlin Staatliche Hochschule), and Herman Krebbers (private studies in Amsterdam).
In 1983 Zimmermann launched his career, performing in numerous critically acclaimed concerts across Germany and parts of Europe. He made his U.S. debut the following year with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and over the next several seasons appeared with the Boston, Chicago, and National symphony orchestras. He also gave concerts in South America, Japan, and Australia.
In the early years of his career Zimmermann regularly collaborated in chamber works with German pianist Alexander Lonquich, but since 1998 he has regularly performed with Italian pianist Enrico Pace.
In the new century Zimmermann has turned more conspicuously to contemporary music, recording the Ligeti Violin Concerto for Teldec (2002) and premiering Matthias Pintscher's En Sourdine in 2003, with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor Peter Eötvös. Among Zimmermann's recordings is an ECM disc released in 2006 that might be viewed as a microcosm of his style and broad tastes: the CD, a collaborative effort with cellist Heinrich Schiff, contains chamber works for violin and cello by J.S. Bach, Honegger, Martinu, Pintscher, and Ravel.