German-Hungarian violinist Zsolt-Tihamér Visontay began playing in 1988, taking lessons at the music school in Magdeburg, and went on to study under Professor Jost Witter at the Schloss Belvedere Music School and the Franz Liszt Music Academy in Weimar.
In 2005 he became the leader of the European Union Youth Orchestra, performing under Vladimir Ashkenazy, Bernard Haitink and Sir Colin Davis among others, and a year later he also became concertmaster of the Philharmonic Orchestra in Altenburg-Gera.
He has guest led many orchestras such as the Radio-Symphonie-Orchestra Berlin, the Hamburger Philharmoniker, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, touring throughout Europe, Russia, Asia and the US. And in 2007, at the age of 24, he became joint concertmaster of the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Since then he has had solo engagements with the orchestra and has recorded the violin concerto by John Jeffreys with them. Other recordings include Contrasts by Béla Bartók with Mark van de Wiel and Yefim Bronfman and the Rachmaninov piano trios with Mats Lidstroem and Vladimir Ashkenazy.
Laureate of several international solo prizes, including the International Louis Spohr Violin Competition and the International Henry Marteau Violin Competition, Zsolt’s solo engagements include invitations to perform with a number of German orchestras.
Asked to pick out the players from whom he has gained the most, he says, ‘A few key musicians stand out from my years as a professional. The violinist Jackie Shave for her wonderful natural artistry, akin to a painter with their brush. Pavlo Besnosiuk (baroque violin) for his enormous integrity, and majestic bow arm which influenced me to adapt my own. Otherwise, on the whole it has been individual performances which i have witnessed that have most influenced me.’
But, he adds, ‘it is very important to mention that other genres of music such as rock, jazz, latin and pop have also greatly influenced my life and indeed my classical music interpretaions – I value my Led Zeppelin, Oscar Peterson, Buena Vista, and BeeGees records as much as my Beethoven and Mahler. For me, they are all complementary.’