David Garrett: The Devil’s Violinist and Heartthrob

A portrait of the American-German violinist David Garrett

By Nina Wachenfeld

web_garrettMore like a pop star than a classical virtuoso, this image the 31-year-old Garrett will likely never be able to cast off. Those who have seen him perform find it hard to resist the electrifying charisma and breathtaking violin playing of the Aachen native. Garrett has just completed his sold-out US tour with a new crossover/pop/classics program, and is now flying to Japan and Taiwan, where more standing ovations certainly await him from a sensation-seeking public. Meanwhile Garrett has become a thorn in the eye of serious media, and he is struggling to win the recognition of his critics, who call him the clone of English violinist Nigel Kennedy. To finance his studies at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York, the attractive blond, who was born David Bongartz, often had to make his living with modeling jobs.

The son of the German lawyer Peter Georg Bongartz and the American ballerina Dove Garrett, whose maiden name he has taken on for its simplicity, discovered his love of the violin at the tender age of four. Actually his parents had given the instrument to his older brother, but young David was fascinated on the spot and could not be held back. At the age of six he started studying at the Lübeck Conservatory, and delivered his orchestra debut as a ten-year-old with the Hamburg Philharmonic.  At age eleven he received his first sponsored Stadivarius violin from the hands of then German President Richard von Weizsäcker, who called him a cultural ambassador to the world for Germany. He took private lessons from world-renowned violin teacher Ida Haendel, and then from Sir Yehudi Menuhin in London. In 1999 Garrett moved to New York, and became one of the few elite students to be selected for Itzhak Perlman’s violin class. In addition to his violin studies Garrett has always had a strong interest in composition, a double talent that earned him first place in the composition competition at Juilliard. Since then he has become an international star, playing the most famous violin concertos in music literature as masterfully as the music of film composer Ennio Morricone or a Michael Jackson medley. Despite his ambition to unite different music genres, he has never forgotten his classical training. His desire is to save classical music from arrogance, and to inspire younger audiences. Testifying to his international success are his sold-out concerts as well as his monumental record sales, which have far surpassed those of leading classical stars. Next we will be able to admire the handsome Garrett on the screen. In August the shooting for the film “The Devil’s Violinist” will begin. Garrett will be playing the lead role of the legendary violinist Niccolo Paganini. A dream for Garrett, for whom Paganini is not only a musical role model; he was also called the first rock star of music. Until August Garrett will not have much time to study the film script. In April his German tour will start with the new program Rock Symphonies.

For dates, CD releases and news: www.davidgarrett.com