At the tender age of 13, German violinist Julia Fischer spoke on a radio panel with New York Philharmonic Maestro Lorin Maazel. He was so impressed that he asked her to play for him, and that was the beginning of a collaboration that has helped catapult Fischer, now 19, to world notice. On January 9, she makes her New York Philharmonic debut with Maazel conducting.
Fischer spoke with Playbill during a brief stop at her Munich home in the midst of performing in 20 countries in just over two months. While Mr. Maazel is one of her favorite conductors because he helped "discover" her, that's not the only reason she admires him. "No musician I've ever met has known the work as well as he does," she says. "He knows even the most obscure music by heart." She also likes his approach to integrating the soloist and orchestral musicians. "I'm the soloist, but I'm also part of the orchestra when he's conducting. There are very few orchestras where that happens." And Maazel's experience as a violinist is invaluable: "He knows exactly which parts are difficult and, since he brings 50 years of experience, he has solutions that would take me 50 years to find."
When she takes the stage at Avery Fisher Hall, Fischer will play the Sibelius Violin Concerto, a repertory favorite that she has loved for years. She heard the piece for the first time when she was about seven, and between the ages of 9 and 14, when she started playing it, "there was not a day when I didn't listen to David Oistrakh's recording of it," she says. "First of all, the piece is full of passion. And violinistically, it's a fun piece to play." While she no longer listens to it daily, the concerto remains one of Fischer's favorite recordings; Philharmonic listeners now have the chance to judge the results of all that listening for themselves.
Susan Jackson is a freelance writer.