Classical chamber music

Henk Guittart


Henk Guittart (born 1953) studied Viola with Jürgen Kussmaul and Orchestral Conducting with Louis Stotijn in The Hague (Netherlands). In 1974 he founded the Schoenberg Ensemble, of which he was the violist and artistic director until 1991. He was the violist of the Schoenberg Quartet for 33 years, from its foundation in 1976 until the end of its existence in 2009. With this group, he performed in many countries and recorded 35 CDs, including the complete works by Schoenberg, Berg, Webern and Zemlinsky. The Schoenberg Quartet played nearly 100 concerts in the legendary Amsterdam Concertgebouw. Between 1983 and 1991, the Quartet frequently studied in Boston (USA), working through their entire repertoire with the famous quartet coach and violist Eugene Lehner, a former member of the renowned Kolisch Quartet which in the 1920s and ‘30s worked with Schoenberg, Webern, Berg, Ravel and Bartók.

In his 37 years on stage as a violist with the Schoenberg Quartet and the Schoenberg Ensemble, Henk Guittart performed many world premières (including works by Schoenberg and Zemlinsky which he rediscovered) and collaborated with many composers, including Louis Andriessen, Jonathan Berger, Luigi Dallapiccola, Jonathan Dove, Berthold Goldschmidt, Sofia Gubaidulina, Maurizio Kagel, Otto Ketting, Igor Markevitch, Luigi Nono, Fredric Rzewski, Alfred Schnittke, Valentin Silvestrov and Isang Yun. From 1991 to 2001 Guittart performed with oboist Han de Vries and pianist Ivo Janssen. They recorded original works for this unique combination by Klughardt, Hindemith, Loeffler and Kahn on CD. As a chamber musician and solo violist, he has performed and recorded with The Netherlands Wind Ensemble, Deutsche Bachsolisten, Consortium Classicum, Stuttgart Piano Trio and St. Lawrence String Quartet. Altogether, he has made over 60 recordings as a violist.

In 1987 Henk Guittart was the first recipient of the 3M Music Laureate, the most prestigious celebration of artists in the Netherlands. He was also awarded the Lifelong Membership of the Friends of the Arnold Schoenberg Institute in Los Angeles, an honour he shares with Pierre Boulez, Felix Galimir and Eugene Lehner. He edited a new publication of the Schoenberg String Trio Op. 45 and wrote arrangements for string ensembles of Schoenberg’s Wind Quintet Op. 26 and the Six Little Piano Pieces Op. 19. He also made a version for viola and piano of Alban Berg’s Four Pieces for Clarinet and Piano Op. 5.

Guittart was Head of the Chamber Music department at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague from 1979 to 1984, and in 1990/1991 he was appointed as a conductor/chamber music coach at the Rotterdam Codarts conservatoire. In the Classical Music department of Conservatorium Maastricht, he teaches Chamber Music. He was a guest conductor and guest lecturer at the music academies in Budapest, Princeton, Los Angeles (USC), Dresden, The Hague, Amsterdam, Cologne, Moscow (Tchaikovsky Conservatory), Manchester, London (Guildhall), Victoria (Canada) and Stanford. In March 2014 he was also appointed as an International Tutor in Strings Performance and Pedagogy at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, United Kingdom. In September 2014, he accepted the post of Artistic Director of the Orlando International Chamber Music Festival and Competition, which takes place in August in Kerkrade (the Netherlands).

As a conductor, Henk Guittart has a broad repertoire, ranging from the Viennese classics and many works from the Second Viennese School, to brand-new music, including music theatre and opera. He has recorded six CDs as a conductor with works by Kurt Weill, Jonathan Dove, Jonathan Berger, Schoenberg, Webern, Berg, Zemlinsky, Wagner, Bruckner, Debussy, Busoni, Taylor Brook, Justin Christensen, Brian Current and Zosha di Castri. He led the first Dutch performances of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony and Bruckner's Seventh Symphony in the versions for chamber orchestra. From 2010 to 2013, Henk Guittart was Artistic Director of the autumn & winter music programmes at the Banff Centre for the Arts (Canada) for three highly praised and very successful years, after first having served as Artistic Advisor of music programmes since the autumn of 2006, and as a special faculty guest during autumn, winter, and summer programmes.

At the Banff Centre, he coached countless young artists and ensembles (including international competition top-prize winners such as the Afiara Quartet, Attacca Quartet, Cecilia Quartet, Rusquartet, Schumann Quartett, Tin Alley String Quartet and Tokai Quartet ) and conducted works by Anton Bruckner, Jonathan Dove, Jonathan Berger, Morton Feldman, Taylor Brook, Johannes van Bree, Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, Haydn, Dvorak, Richard Strauss, Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, Zemlinsky, Wagner, Debussy, Busoni, Justin Christensen, Brian Current and Zosha di Castri.

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