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An Interview with violinist Peter Schuhmayer

This weekend, the Artis Quartet of Vienna performs at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival–Yale Summer School of Music in northwest Connecticut. Here's an interview with Peter Schuhmayer, the quartet's first violinist, from Norfolk's blog.

When you are away touring, do you bring anything special with you to remind you of home?

I just print out photos of my family for my violin case and keep lots of digital photos in my laptop and mobile phone.

Are there any “good-luck” rituals that you observe while on the road?


When you fly what do you like to read?

Usually I read newspapers or magazines or work some things out on my laptop.

What are the most played songs on your iPod?


What is your favorite concert hall to play in and why?

There are many good concert halls around, but the Musikverein in Vienna is my favorite hall since it just takes me a 5-minute walk to my home.

Do you notice a difference between European and North-American audiences?

They are divided everywhere into the coughing, and the non-coughing.

Is there a work that brings to mind a particularly happy memory?

All the songs I sing with my children.

What is your favorite piece of music and why?

Can’t decide.

Who has influenced you the most?

My mother, my wife, and my students.

Is there a work in which your interpretation has changed over the years? What has prompted this re-interpretation?

All pieces are developing constantly (I hope for the better).

When you perform, what do you try to communicate to the listener?

My feelings when I play, and the message of the music as I understand it.

Is there anything about the way classical music is presented to the world that you would like to see change or evolve?

We should probably return to more mixed programs which include more musicians and combinations of musicians in the same concert, as it was done in the first half of 20th century.

Often we hear people say that they don’t listen to classical music or go to classical music concerts for fear of not “knowing anything about it” or “understanding it.” How would you respond to them?

The roots of any kind of music are the same: express your emotions. Try to follow the emotions in classical music.

For that same group of people, what works would you recommend as an introduction to the genre, and why?

I would recommend highly emotional pieces of any kind.


Viennese violinist Peter Schuhmayer has performed with artists including Mischa Maisky, Christoph Eschenbach, and Richard Stoltzman. Since 1980, as first violinist and founding member of the Artis Quartet of Vienna, he has won prizes at competitions in Cambridge (England), Evian (France), and Yellow Springs (U.S.). His numerous international recording awards include Echo Klassik, Grand Prix du Disque, Diapason d’ Or, Prix Caecilia, Indie Award, Wiener Flötenuhr, and Midem Classical Award. He studied at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst with Hertha Binde, Josef Suk, Alfred Staar, and Hatto Beyerle and at the University of Cincinnati with the La Salle Quartet. Mr. Schuhmayer won first prize for chamber music and the special prize of the Vienna Philharmonic at the Austrian Youth Competition 1979. He is a past member of the Wiener Streichersolisten and a former guest professor at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz. Currently, Peter Schuhmayer serves as a tutor and jury member and gives master classes for violin and chamber music throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. Since 1996, he has taught violin and chamber music at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. Mr. Schuhmayer plays a 2001 violin by Johann Rombach.