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 Institute 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 16, he made his orchestral debut with the Philharmonia Hungarica in Cologne, playing Mendelssohn’s Concerto. Under the auspices of Young Concert Artists he gave his New York debut at Town Hall to great acclaim.

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, Max Rudolf, Dennis R. Davies, Daniel Nazareth, Alexander Lazarov, Guido Ajmone-Marsan, Hiroshi Wakasugi 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.

After many years of collaborating with the leading composers of his time, such as Elliott Carter (whose Fantasy he premiered at Harvard), György Kurtág (whose Kafka-Fragments he gave the American première of at Tanglewood), Milton Babbitt (whose The Joy of More Sextets and Little Goes a Long Way he premiered at the Library of Congress and Harvard), Donald Martino (whose Violin Concerto and Romanza he premiered), Mario Davidovsky (whose Synchronisms No.9 he premiered at MIT), Aaron Copland and John Cage, Rolf Schulte happily now returns to the repertoire of his early adulthood, applying the lessons learned from intensive work with living composers, to the music of Schumann, Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart, Brahms, Bartók, Janáček, Stravinsky, Debussy, Ravel, Webern, Schönberg, Berg, etc.

Mr. Schulte has appeared multiple times with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and their Columbia MD Festival of the Arts, as well as 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 and Milton Babbitt. More recently, he performed two recitals in Tokyo and one at the Arnold Schönberg Center in Vienna.

His long and distinguished discography includes recordings of Arnold Schoenberg’s Violin Concerto with the London Philharmonia (Naxos), Robert Schumann’s Works for Violin and Piano (Centaur Records), and several pieces of Elliott Carter:  Violin Concerto (with the Odense Symphony), Four Lauds and Duo (all on Bridge Records), Schönberg Phantasy, op. 47 and String Trio op.45 (Naxos, nominated for a 2010 Grammy award), Violin Concerto No.1 by Paul Ruders (Bridge) and the Concerti of Roger Sessions and Donald Martino (available on iTunes). The most recent release is The Violin in Stravinsky’s Life on Aldilà Records.

Mr. Schulte performs on a 1780 violin by Lorenzo Storioni, Cremona.

Photo top left by Tess Steinkolk