Niklas Schmidt - Cellist

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Cellist Niklas Schmidt received his musical education in Hamburg and Cologne and was a regular guest at the Menuhin Academy in Gstaad. In 1980, together with violinist Michael Mücke and pianist Wolf Harden, he founded Trio Fontenay. The ensemble recorded nearly the entire literature for this genre on CD for Teldec, EMI and Philips; most of the recordings received national and international awards, including Deutscher Schallplattenpreis 1994 for the complete recordings of Beethoven’s Trios and the Diapason d’Or.

Trio Fontenay performed at the most prestigious concert halls in the world including Carnegie Hall in New York, Salle Gaveau inParis, Wigmore Hall, Queen Elisabeth Hall, Royal Festival Hall in London, and Herkulessaal in Munich and appeared at international festivals such as Salzburg Festival, Festival de Montpellier, Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and Festival de Montréal as well as at Kissinger Summer and Schubertiade in Austria. After its American debut in 1986, the ensemble undertook one or two major USA tours each year. The ensemble’s appointment as Trio en Résidence au Châtelet in Paris marked a special honour for the three musicians. At the end of 1997, Niklas Schmidt resigned from the ensemble.

Since then, he has frequently performed as a soloist as well as in various chamber music formations. Together with Menahem Pressler, he played the Arpeggione Sonata in Washington D.C. and Beethoven’s Sonatas in Hamburg, as well as Schubert’s String Quintet with members of the Alban Berg, Cleveland, Guarneri and Juilliard quartets. Of late, he frequently performed the two Haydn concertos together with orchestra as well as Strauss’s Don Quijote in China. His many musical partners include Nobuko Imai, Michel Lethiec, Ralf Gothóni, the Auryn Quartet and the Fine Arts Quartet. Niklas Schmidt is regularly invited to play at renowned music festivals such as the Casals Festival in Prades, the music festival in Naantali, Finland or Musikfestspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. In August 2012, his latest CD The Singing Cello was released, presenting Schubert’s Arpeggione and Beethoven’s complete Variations for Cello and Piano in a recording with his piano partner John Chen. The next CD will appear in 2014 with works by Richard Strauss and Sergei Rachmaninov.

Since 1987, Professor Schmidt has taught chamber music and cello at the Hochschulefür Musik in Hamburg. He is regularly invited to conduct master classes throughout the world, inculding places such as Paris, Helsinki, Nice, Montréal, New York, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Since 1999, Niklas Schmidt has directed the prestigious Hamburg chamber music series Fontenay Classics (formerly known asKammerkonzerte im Mozartsaal) presenting world- renowned ensembles and soloists. After a successful Schubertiade in 2011 and a Brahmsiade in 2013, a second Schubertiade will take place as part of this series in May and June 2014. Schmidt is director of the International Mendelssohn Summer School Festival in Hamburg and the International Chamber Music Competition Hamburg ICMC. In 2010, he founded his own label Fontenay Classics International FCI which has already released eight CDs.

Niklas Schmidt plays a Rogeri cello (Brescia) dating from 1700.