German-born Rolf Schulte, whom The New Yorker has called “one of the most distinguished violinists of our day,” started playing the violin at age five under his father’s tutelage. He later studied with Kurt Schäffer at the Robert Schumann Conservatory in Düsseldorf, attended Yehudi Menuhin’s summer course in Gstaad, Switzerland, and studied with Franco Gulli at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena before moving to the United States to study with Ivan Galamian at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. At age 14, he made his orchestral debut with the Philharmonia Hungarica in Cologne, playing Mendelssohn’s Concerto.
He has since performed with the Berlin Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Frankfurt Museums Orchester, Stuttgart Staatsorchester, Bamberg Symphony, Orchestra del Teatro La Fenice in Venice (in Stravinsky’s Concerto under Robert Craft), RTE Irish National Symphony in Dublin, and the Radio Orchestras of Berlin (RSO), Cologne (WDR), and Stuttgart (SDR) under conductors Christoph von Dohnányi, György Lehel, Tamas Vásary, Dennis R. Davies, Daniel Nazareth, Alexander Lazarov, Guido Ajmone-Marsan and many others. In 1990 he performed Roger Sessions’ Violin Concerto with the Radio Orchestra of the USSR in Moscow under the direction of Lukas Foss and presented American music in recital.
Among the works Schulte has premiered are Donald Martino’s Violin Concerto, Tobias Picker’s Concerto with the American Composer’s Orchestra at Lincoln Center (recorded by CRI), Milton Babbitt’s The Joy of More Sextets at the Library of Congress (New World Records), Mario Davidovsky’s Synchronisms No. 9 at M.I.T. (Wergo), and Elliott Carter’s Fantasy at Harvard. American premieres include György Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments at Tanglewood, Poul Ruder’s Violin Concerto No. 1 (Bridge Records), and Elliott Carter’s Riconoscenza per Goffredo Petrassi. Mr. Schulte has appeared with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the 1990 Kuhmo Music Festival in Finland. His numerous recital performances include the cycle of ten Beethoven sonatas at Harvard, Dartmouth, and Middlebury colleges, and the complete violin works of Igor Stravinsky at the 92nd St. Y and Berliner Festwochen, among other places. From 1999-2001 Rolf Schulte held a residency at Harvard University during which he presented new works by Carter, Donald Martino (Romanza), and Milton Babbitt (Little Goes a Long Way).
His long and distinguished discography includes recordings of Arnold Schoenberg’s Violin Concerto with the London Philharmonia (Koch International, re-issued on Naxos), Robert Schumann’s Works for Violin and Piano (Centaur Records), and several pieces of Elliott Carter: Duo and Riconoscenza, the Violin Concerto (with the Odense Symphony) and Four Lands (all on Bridge Records). Recent recordings include the Schönberg Phantasy, Op. 47 and String Trio Op. 45 (Naxos, nominated for a 2010 Grammy award).
Mr. Schulte performs on a 1780 violin made by Lorenzo Storioni, Cremona.