Benjamin Beck is a passionate French violist with a rich and eclectic background, eager to play endlessly more beautiful music, and share it with the people.
He started playing the viola, fascinated by its sound, at the age of 7 in his home town in the French Basque country. The irresistible attraction for a wider musical horizon led him to leave home for Paris when he was 14. He entered the Paris Conservatory (CNSM) in the class of Jean Sulem, spending his time on both the viola and discovering new aspects of a musician’s life. He transcribed already then Schubert’s Winterreise for actor, viola and harp, starting his researches about the profound connexion between the viola and the voice. He also attended the Sorbonne University, where he obtained a musicology bachelor degree.
After obtaining his Master degree from Paris, Benjamin followed his dream and left for the New England Conservatory in Boston, where he attended the class of Kim Kashkashian. He discovered new ways of speaking through his viola, and focused a lot on improvisation, jazz and new music, premièring the works of two composers who dedicated him their pieces. When he moved back to Europe, Benjamin simultaneously attended an Artist Diploma at the CNSM in Paris and played as an academist with the Berliner Philharmoniker. This intensive orchestral experience at the highest level fascinated him and led him to continue playing in an orchestra; at 25 years of age he became solo viola at the Bayerische Staatsorchester, then two years later first solo viola at the Sinfonieorchester Basel.
During his first participation in an international competition, Benjamin won in Llanès (Spain) both first and special prizes. He got numerous other prices and awards in different competitions, including the Forbesfest Competition in Saint Andrew, or the Beethoven Hradec Competition in Czech Republic.
Benjamin regularly performs as a soloist in France or in Germany, and in recital or chamber music in famous festivals and the most beautiful halls across the world, in Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, or Boston, where he shares the stage with the most inspiring artists of our time. His privileged performances take nevertheless place in more intimate venues, where the contact with the public is incredibly direct, and music can speak at its best.
Benjamin Beck diversifies his musical experiences with the practice of early music, arrangement, jazz or Gregorian chant. He leads several projects, particularly around the theme of the viola and voice. In 2015, he recorded his first solo CD with the support of the Meyer Foundation, “Les voix de l’alto” (The viola’s voices), after also recording his transcription of Schubert’s Winterreise for viola, harp and reciter for an e-label, as well as a CD of works by Jean Françaix with the Pessoa quintet for the label suoni e colori. With his various orchestras, Benjamin has already recorded no less than 10 CDs, including the complete Sibelius’ symphonies with Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker.
Finally, Benjamin Beck considers the sharing of music with those who have difficulty accessing it as a priority and is involved in various projects to make it better known and loved. These are intended for a wide variety of audiences, and have a local (Berlin or Munich), or international scope as with the Music Sharing association that sent him to India and Japan.
It is a cycle in this small universe, and when one listens to the entire album, he or she would discover the viola’s versatility, and surely be lured into its singing voice– it is warm and tender, yet expressive and melancholic; it could be sensitive and romantic, or intense and serious. And it is irresistibly charming, sometimes mischievous, and undoubtedly sensual yet incredibly sophisticated.