Hartmut Höll


Hartmut Höll's pianism is characterized by a feeling for sound, sensitivity, and the ability to think behind the notes to create atmosphere and experience feelings directly in the sound timbres. For decades, Höll has been one of the most sought-after collaborative pianists. He knows the value of chamber music partnerships and is wisely maintains long-term associations.

A German Academic Scholarship Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes) recipient, Hartmut Höll first studied in Stuttgart with the instructors Paul Buck and Konrad Richter, in addition to obtaining insights from additional studies with Leonard Hokanson.

From 1982 to 1992 he was a constant recital partner of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Performances at the Salzburg, Edinburgh, Florence, Munich, Berlin and Toyko Festival as well as New York's Carnegie Hall inspired praise for their teamwork.

For over two decades, he has accompanied the soprano Renée Fleming at concerts in Europe, Australia, Asia and the United States. Höll sees Fleming as a global voice, and he observes admiringly how her unique gifts communicate musical inspiration to diverse audiences internationally in an extensive repertoire across four centuries.

For over forty years, he has been associated in a song duo with the mezzo-soprano Mitsuko Shirai. Together, they have set standards worldwide in song interpretation with concerts and CDs.

“Peter Pears - Benjamin Britten; Pierre Bernac - Francis Poulenc. In our own day, Mitsuko Shirai and Hartmut Höll have achieved comparable artistry.” THE AUDIOPHILE VOICE (USA)

From the start, for Mitsuko Shrai and Hartmut Höll, the art of song was always chamber music. In 1973, they created the term Liedduo (Song duo), which is still used today.

Hartmut Höll's performance partners have included Christoph Prégardien, Thomas Hampson, Yajie Zhang, Stella Doufexis, Wolfgang Holzmair, Christiane Libor, Christian Elsner, Roman Trekel, Urszula Kryger, Jadwiga Rappé, Liao Changyong, Zheng Zhou, Josef Protschka, Yvonne Naef, Jochen Kowalski, Hermann Prey, and Peter Schreier.

Hartmut Höll also focuses on encouraging the younger generation: the soprano Theresa Pilsl, mezzo-soprano Yajie Zhang, tenor Ilker Arcayürek, and baritone Äneas Humm. Among Höll’s chamber music partners have been Tabea Zimmermann, Eduard Brunner, Jörg Widmann, Gervase de Peyer, and Sabine Meyer.

He has recorded wide-ranging repertoire on around sixty CDs (with Mitsuko Shirai, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Tabea Zimmermann, Sabine Meyer, Urszula Kryger, Jadwiga Rappé, Roman Trekel and Leila Pfister) on the Capriccio, Decca, EMI, Erato, Claves, MDG, and BayerRecords labels. Many have received international prizes, such as the Diapason d'Or and German Record Critics' Award.

As professor at the University of Music Karlsruhe, after teaching stints in Frankfurt and Cologne, Hartmut Höll is closely connected to a young generation of artists. Graduates of his classes further the didactic tradition as instructors in Salzburg, Vienna, Paris, Freiburg, Erfurt, Berlin, Manila, and Montevideo.

During the 1998/1999 academic year, Hartmut Höll was guest professor in Helsinki, and from 1994 to 2003 was guest professor at the Mozarteum University Salzburg. In addition, for almost a decade he taught song interpretation at Zurich University of the Arts, succeeding Irwin Gage.

Since October 2007, Hartmut Höll has been rector of the University of Music Karlsruhe. CampusOne • Gottesaue Castle, one of Europe’s loveliest university campuses, was developed under his leadership, and the university now enjoys substantial national and international esteem.

Hartmut Höll has given annual master classes in Savonlinna, Finland, at the Weimar International Music Seminar, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, the Salzburg Mozarteum Summer Academy, as well as in Jerusalem, Cairo and Moscow, at the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofia, the Royal Music Academy London, the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien. He also teaches each year at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and since 2019, has lectured at Renée Fleming's SongStudio at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

In 1990, Hartmut Höll received the Robert Schumann Prize from the city of Zwickau. He is an honorary member of the Robert Schumann Society in Zwickau.

As juror or jury chairperson, he has been invited to New York’s Naumburg Competition, Zwickau’s Robert Schumann International Competition for Pianists and Singers, Paris’ Nadia and Lili Boulanger International Voice-Piano Competition, Munich’s ARD International Music Competition, the PianoVoce Compettion at the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory, and in 2022, the Montreal International Musical Competition (Concours musical international de Montréal; CMIM).

From 1985 to 2007, Hartmut Höll was artistic director of the International Hugo Wolf-Academy for Song, Poetry and the Art of the Lied, Stuttgart. Under his direction, the International Hugo Wolf Competition was established in Stuttgart. Themes of impactful concert series included Eduard Mörike (1988); Germanies (1990); Europe on the move - People • Metropolises • Migrations under the patronage of Simone Veil (1992/93); performance of the complete works intended by Schubert for publication (1997); Nature sound/Human sound (1998), invited to the Weimar European Capital of Culture; and Danube Journey, a musical-literary-cinematic exploration (1998). The last-mentioned series attracted attention far beyond national borders and was invited to New York’s Lincoln Center and Paris’s Auditorium du Louvre.

In 2012, the memoir WortMusik (WordMusic) was published by Staccato-Verlag Düsseldorf, in which Hartmut Höll describes his experiences and how he approaches songs in the light of personal memories.

“It’s a courageous and sensitive book, critical but never condescending, free-ranging yet precise.” OPERNWELT

With Liao Changyong, President of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Hartmut Höll coedited for Breitkopf & Härtel an edition of art songs written by Chinese composers since 1920 under European influence. These Chinese idiomatic melodies set to music poems from a thousand-year tradition.

From selected performance reviews:

“[Renée Fleming] was accompanied by the outstanding pianist Hartmut Höll. He attained the respective intonation of these different compositions and maintained tension even at the slowest tempos absolutely admirably. Each of his deeply felt pauses was a revelation, and his courage in taking artistic risks should inspire all musicians to emulate him.”  DER TAGESSPIEGEL, about a Deutsche Oper Berlin recital.

“Above all, [Renée Fleming] enjoyed the advantage of working with the superb pianist Hartmut Höll – emphatically a partner, not an accompanist.”  FINANCIAL TIMES, about a Carnegie Hall recital

“Hartmut Höll performs magic on the piano: With Hartmut Höll, Renée Fleming has chosen a very accomplished song accompanist. What Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's piano partner of many years conjures up on the piano is simply breathtaking. He effortlessly manages the sometimes challenging balance between sensitive accompaniment and independent interpretation. The colors and shades he extracts from the piano line and stories recounted through the vocal line can move us to tears, for example at the piano solo conclusion of the song cycle Frauen-Liebe und Leben.” NDR CULTURE

January 2022

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