Hartmut Höll, pianist

Hartmut Höll’s pianism is distinguished by an awareness of sound textures. He sensitively finds emotion at the heart of music, creating sonic atmospheres and bringing emotions to life. For over three decades, Höll has been in demand as one of the music world’s most esteemed chamber musicians and lieder accompanists. Focusing on a few choice musical partners of magisterial talent, Höll has consciously cultivated a rare consistency – and longevity – in performance collaborations in hundreds of concerts and over 70 recordings, many of which have received international awards.

Between 1982 and 1992, Hartmut Höll performed as the legendary baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s titular accompanist, in hundreds of concerts and many recordings both live and in the studio. Höll and Fischer-Dieskau were applauded in concert at the Salzburg, Edinburgh, Florence, Munich, and Berlin Festivals as well as New York’s Carnegie Hall.

For over 30 years, Höll has performed lieder concerts all over the world with the distinguished Japanese-German mezzo-soprano Mitsuko Shirai. The recordings by Höll and Shirai on the Capriccio label have won multiple prizes, and are considered among the most significant modern recordings of the lieder repertoire. These range from early romantic works through the Second Vienna School and contemporary composers. Among the superb highlights of this matchless series of recordings are albums devoted to the songs of Mozart, Schumann, Robert Franz, Liszt, Wolf, Strauss, Mahler, Berg, Schoenberg, Webern, Viktor Ullmann, and a wide range of composers’ settings of the poems of Friedrich Hölderlin. A particularly innovative 2-CD set combined a deeply moving performance of Schubert’s “Winterreise” by Höll and Shirai with a chamber music performance of Schubert’s melodies by Höll and the dazzling violist Tabea Zimmermann, with Müller’s original poems as set by Schubert read by the eminent German poet and novelist Peter Härtling.

Höll and Shirai have also recorded CDs of melodies by Lili Boulanger ( Bayer Records); Spohr and Burgmüller (MDG); and notably, a complete recording of the modern Swiss composer Othmar Schoeck’s monumental song cycle, “Das holde Bescheiden” (settings of the poems of the 19th century German poet Eduard Mörike). Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau also sang on this landmark recording of “Das holde Bescheiden” (Claves Records).

Among the many career honors and distinctions awarded to Höll and Shirai are the Carte blanche series at the Louvre Auditorium, Paris in 1993 and the ABC International Music Award in 1997. Shirai and Höll’s “European Lieder Book” CD of 20th century compositions, was named one of the best CDs of 2003 by “The Boston Globe’s” veteran critic Richard Dyer.

Since 2001, Höll has accompanied the famed American soprano Renée Fleming in tours through Europe, Asia, and the USA. He has also performed with counter-tenor Jochen Kowalski; tenor Christoph Prégardien; the late baritone Hermann Prey; the British baritone David Wilson-Johnson; the Polish contralto Jadwiga Rappé; the German tenor Peter Schreier; the Polish soprano Urszula Kryger; and the German baritones Roman Trekel and Hanno Müller-Brachmann.

Since 1985, Hartmut Höll has performed chamber music with the violist Tabea Zimmermann throughout Europe, Israel, and the United States. Mutual recordings included Schumann, Brahms, Schostakovitch and Britten.

In 1990, Hartmut Höll received the much-coveted Robert Schumann Award by the City of Zwickau. He has been named an honorary member of the Robert Schumann Society of Zwickau and the St. Petersburg Philharmonia Society.

Previously a full professor at the conservatories of Frankfurt and Cologne, Germany, Hartmut Höll currently teaches at the Karlsruhe Conservatory, where he maintains a close connection to the younger generation of performers. He has given seminars and master classes in Finland; the Weimar International Music Seminar; the Schleswig Holstein Festival; the Salzburg Mozarteum; in Jerusalem; and the USA. In 1998-99 Höll served as visiting professor at the Helsinki Conservatory and at the Salzburg Mozarteum between 1994 and 2003. Starting in autumn 2004, he is visiting professor of lieder at the Zurich ConservatorySince October 2007 Hartmut Höll is dean of the University of Music Karlsruhe.

As juror or chairman of the jury, Hartmut Höll has served at the Robert Schumann Contest, Zwickau; the Naumburg Competition, New York; and the International ARD Music Contest, Munich.

1985 – 2007 Hartmut Höll was the longtime artistic director of the International Hugo Wolf Academy of Song, Poetry, and Lieder in Stuttgart. The many festivals presented by the Wolf Academy have repeatedly drawn international praise. They include programs devoted to “Eduard Mörike” (1988); “Deutschlande” (1990); “Europa im Aufbruch – Menschen/ Metropolen/ Wanderungen” (1992/93, under the auspices of European Minister Simone Veil); a complete cycle of Schubert’s works as grouped into 108 categories by Schubert himself (1997); “Naturlaut / Menschenlaut” (with a salute to Weimar, 1998’s European Cultural Capital); and “Donaureise” (2002), a musical, literary, and cinematic trip along the Danube river; this “Donaureise” project attracted special attention and drew invitations to Lincoln Center, New York and the Louvre Auditorium, Paris. In 2001, Höll organized and launched the “International Lieder-Art Contest Stuttgart,” a much-respected competition based on essential criteria of musical expression.



4, 5 December 2023


Karol Szymanowski and Gustav Mahler