At a glance
He has a mastery which extends from mere technical control into unnameable areas. It does not suffice to say that his tone is big and silvery, his musicianship prodigious, his intellectual grasp profound. He has a unique personal affinity for his instrument and for music...The Daily Telegraph
Viennese violinist and conductor Ernst Kovacic is equally at home in repertoire from Mozart to Gruber. An indefatigable champion of new music, he is first choice for many composers and orchestras to premiere new works.
Vienna, with its fruitful tension between tradition and innovation, inspires the Austrian violinist and conductor Ernst Kovacic.
Ernst Kovacic is a leading performer throughout Europe and the USA. His recent guest engagements include appearances with the Vienna Philharmonic and Vienna Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, Prague Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Budapest Symphony, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Tivoli Symphony and the Radio Symphony Orchestras of Berlin, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Sudwestfunk, Hessischer Rundfunk, Norddeutscher Rundfunk and the Konzerthausorchester Berlin among many others.
Ernst makes frequent international festival appearances. He gave a critically-acclaimed performance of the Schoenberg Violin Concerto at the BBC Proms and has appeared at the Edinburgh Festival, the major festivals of Berlin, Vienna and Salzburg, as well as the Ultima Oslo and Prague Autumn Festivals.
Increasingly busy as a conductor, Ernst has been the artistic director of the Leopoldinum Chamber Orchesta in Wroclaw, Poland since 2007. He has directed the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, Northern Sinfonia, Camerata Salzburg, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Klangforum, Ensemble Modern, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, Camerata Bern, Camerata Nordica, Zagreb Philharmonic and the Taipei Symphony Orchestra. He has also toured Japan conducting the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, of which he was Artistic Director from 1996 to 1998.
Ernst’s repertory is prodigious and includes all the major works for violin of the baroque, classical and romantic periods. His special energy and commitment to contemporary music makes him a much sought-after collaborator in the creation of new compositions. Composers who have written pieces especially for him include Friedrich Cerha, HK Gruber, G.F. Haas, Beat Furrer, Ernst Krenek, Kurt Schwertsik, Ivan Erod, Robin Holloway, Nigel Osborne and Helmut Eder. His most recent world première performances have been of the violin concertos by Beat Furrer (with the Vienna Philharmonic), G.F. Haas, Cerha, and Django Bates.
Ernst’s recordings include Friedrich Cerha’s violin concerto with the Radio Symphonieorchester Wien, works by Beethoven and Schoenberg with the Wrocław Chamber Orchestra, Krenek’s 2nd Violin Concerto with RSO Wien and Symphonic Elegy with his own Leopoldinium Orchestra, Sir Michael Tippett’s Triple Concerto with the composer conducting the BBC Philharmonic, Mozart’s complete works for violin and orchestra with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Robin Holloway’s Concerto (which received the Music Retailers’ Association award for best concerto recording of the year) and HK Gruber’s Nebelsteinmusik with the Camerata Salzburg and Franz Welser-Möst for EMI Classics. Ernst’s CD releases (with the Leopoldinium Orchestra) include Lutosławski’s Preludes and Fugue for 13 solo strings (on CD Accord); “The Art of Fugue”, presenting works by Purcell, Bach, Mozart, Schumann, Reinecke, Moskowski, Honegger, Villa lobos, Zeisl and Britten (on CD Accord), and a disc of works by Hanna Kulenty on DUX.
Ernst Kovacic was born in Kapfenberg, Austria, and studied at the Academy of Music in Vienna. He is the winner of several major prizes at international competitions, including Geneva, Barcelona and Munich. He currently plays a 1754 Guadagnini violin.
Kovacic' violin playing exceeds by far the limits of mere technical control. Deeply rooted in the Viennese musical tradition, appreciated throughout Europe and the U.S. ,Kovacic is one of the greatest violinists of today.(J.S. Bach programme, Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra) The Vjesnik
Kovacic conjured up the wild and mystical world of Ligeti’s crazy violin concerto. It was a performance packed with high-octane energy…No questioning now the exquisite uniqueness of this concerto, Kovacic drawing from its five movements a world of colour, virtuosic wit and emotion that can so often be missed in Ligeti's music.(Ligeti Violin concerto, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra) The Scotsman
Ernst Kovacic gave the première [of the Schoenberg Notturno], faultlessly, after a heroic account of the Violin Concerto that deserves to be remembered as one of the finest performances of this Proms season so far. Kovacic himself is a remarkable player, able to phrase this music and make its thematic structure crystal clear.(Schoenberg Violin Concerto, BBC Proms) The Independent
At one time reckoned to be unplayable because of its phenomenal difficulty, the Schoenberg concerto has still not entered the regular repertoire, but Kovacic's playing of it was thoroughly persuasive, a fascinating fusion of virtuosity, expressive purpose and bristling musical character.(Schoenberg Violin Concerto, BBC Proms) The Daily Telegraph
Wow, this man can waltz!...He clearly has the music in his blood…He produced from the SCO that gloriously rich, sumptuous, stylish, and effortless sense of flow…In an intoxicating stream of music the SCO, with Kovacic playing like the consummate musician he is, did not put a foot wrong: every heartbeat and rush of blood was absolutely in place.(New Year’s Concert, Scottish Chamber Orchestra) Glasgow Herald
Soloist Ernst Kovacic was hailed by the audience for the intensity with which he played.(Beat Furrer Violin Concerto, Vienna Philharmonic/Metzmacher) Wiener Zeitung
Kovacic is an absolute master of the violinDagen, Stockholm
Kovacic, an Austrian, knows how to waltz to perfection, tripping idiomatically on the beat. Kovacic scaled the ethereal heights of the last movement of Messiaen’s Creation du monde flawlessly, as if Messiaen’s desired ‘Ineffable Peace’ were possible.(Wigmore Hall) The Observer
One of the most creative and accomplished violinists worldwide.The Sunday Times
Selected Discography —
Schoenberg: 11 Waltzes For String Orchestra / Beethoven: Violin Concerto in / Beethoven: Grosse Fugue, Op. 133
Robin Holloway: Violin Concerto
BBC Music Magazine
For all the quirkiness of its form, it’s the kind of work that becomes more satisfying with every hearing, and this performance by Kovacic is a real tour de force.
HK Gruber: ‘Nebelsteinmusik’ (Violin Concerto No. 2)
BBC Music Magazine
the Second Violin Concerto of 1988, with string orchestra, [is] an ideal vehicle for Ernst Kovacic’s sweet-toned spinning of the melodic line