Violinist Christian Tetzlaff possesses a repertory that reaches from J.S. Bach to Ligeti and beyond, and regularly appears in orchestral and chamber concerts. He is a popular recording artist, with more than 30 recordings to his credit, most issued on major labels like EMI Classics and Virgin Classics. He has received international acclaim for his performances and recordings of the six Bach solo sonatas and partitas, as well as for the five Mozart concertos. But he has achieved equal success for much else, including his Bartók Second and Beethoven and Brahms concertos. Tetzlaff has also championed a fair amount of contemporary music: beside his highly praised accounts of the Schoenberg, Berg, and Ligeti concertos — the latter given on an acclaimed international tour in 1999-2000 — he premiered the Johannes Harneit violin concerto in Freiburg, Germany, in 2000. Tetzlaff frequently performs in concert with major orchestras and partners with many of the world's leading artists, like Yo-Yo Ma, Christoph Eschenbach, Sabine Meyer, Heinrich Schiff, and cellist Tanja Tetzlaff, his sister.
Christian Tetzlaff was born in Hamburg, Germany, on April 29, 1966. Having shown talent on both piano and violin in his childhood, he eventually chose the latter instrument, and by his early teens was an accomplished violinist. His official debut at 14 in the Beethoven violin concerto was a notable success. He later studied at the Musikhochschule Lübeck with Uwe-Martin Haiberg and at the Cincinnati University College-Conservatory of Music with Walter Levine.
From about 1989 he began to draw international notice: his Schoenberg violin concerto performance with the Cleveland Orchestra that year was widely hailed, and in Europe he was beginning to make regular appearances in Paris, Cologne, London, and other major venues. Tetzlaff's New York City recital debut in 1993 at the 92nd Street Y in a program of J.S. Bach, Ysaÿe, and Bartók, was highly praised in The New York Times. That same year Tetzlaff's first recording of the six Bach solo sonatas and partitas on Virgin Classics drew rave reviews and is still considered a benchmark recording in that repertory.
In 2001 Tetzlaff made notable appearances at several major European festivals with pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, and the two later collaborated for acclaimed Virgin Classics recordings (2002-2004) of sonatas by Brahms, Janácek, Ravel, Debussy, Nielsen, and Bartók. Among Tetzlaff's newer recordings are his 2006-2007 Virgin Classics CDs of the Mozart concertos, on which he also performs as conductor.