An award-winning artist, Benjamin Beck is regarded as one of the finest violists of his generation. He performs as principal viola in renowned orchestras and is a regular guest at prestigious festivals. He is an exceptionally versatile and explorative musician, which he expresses through his innovative arrangements and research projects to explore connections between classical music and various other art forms.
Benjamin’s most recent project is his arrangement of Wagner’s opera Lohengrin for string sextet, which premiered in the Richard Wagner Museum Bayreuth on 28 August 2020 – the 170th birthday of the original opera. This work includes Lohengrin’s most beautiful and impressive moments in a chamber music format. The concert tour of this project has already received tremendous love and praise from the audiences and presses in various regions of southern Germany, especially in a summer without Wagner opera. Another recent work is his arrangement of the Czech composer Janacek’s masterpiece – “The Cunning Little Vixen” into an innovative form for viola, piano, and actor, which was funded by the French Ministry of Culture in the year 2019.
Benjamin has toured across the world and performed solo, chamber music, and concerto repertoire in the most renowned venues, including the Berlin Philharmonie, Paris Philharmonie, Paris Salle Pleyel, Munich National Theatre, Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, Geneva Victoria Hall, New York Carnegie Hall, and Tokyo Yamaha Hall. He performs regularly at various prestigious festivals, including the Bayreuth Festival, Verbier Festival, and Yellow Barn. He has collaborated with the most inspiring artists of the time, such as violinists Christian Tetzlaff and Midori.
Apart from his extensive soloist and chamber musician performing, Benjamin is regularly invited to lead the viola sections of major European orchestras such as the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, hr-Sinfonieorchester, NDR Elbphilharmonie, NDR Radiophilharmonie Hanover, and Staatsoper Stuttgart, thanks to his earlier experience serving as principal viola at Bavarian State Orchestra in Munich (awarded the world’s best opera orchestra) and his two years of playing at Berlin Philharmonic as a scholarship holder of the Karajan Academy. He played under the baton of the most celebrated conductors; Zubin Mehta, Ivor Bolton, Cornelius Mayer, and Bertrand de Billy have praised his performance.
Benjamin Beck was born in the Basque Country of France. He started to learn the viola at the age of seven and already performed on the stage when he was ten. At the age of fourteen, he went to Paris and was soon admitted to the Paris Conservatory (CNSM). Benjamin graduated from the CNSM and the New England Conservatory in Boston, in the class of Kim Kashkashian and Jean Sulem. With a passion for academic studies, Benjamin also holds a Musicology degree from Sorbonne University in Paris.
At the age of 16, Benjamin participated in his first international competition and won both 1st and special prizes in the Llanes International String Competition. Two years later, he already transcribed Schubert’s song cycle “Winterreise” for viola, harp and narrator, which was released as an E-label. In 2015, Benjamin released his first solo CD “Les voix de l’alto”, which features works by Schubert, Hindemith, Brahms, Zimmermann, and Kurtag. He has participated in the production of more than 10 CDs, playing chamber music, or collaborating with his orchestras, among which the complete Sibelius’ symphonies with Sir Simon Rattle and Berlin Philharmonic.
To share music with those who have difficulty accessing it, Benjamin is engaging in various activities. With the Créations en Cours program, he explored music education with children in a rural area of France. With the ICEP/ Music Sharing association, he joined violinist Midori’s string quartet for two extensive tours to perform for the underprivileged in India and hospitalized children in Japan.
International presses describe his performance as:
“Benjamin Beck, with his impetuous and magical playing … beautiful phrasing and elegant interpretation … provoked tears of his Basque audience and a standing ovation”— Sud-Ouest, France
“…wonderfully touching and expressive interpretation…a flexibility and soloistic virtuosity making a long-lasting impression…”— Volksfreund, Germany
“…a young musician with a generous and profound sound, powerfully embedding plentiful warmth and roundness…”— 新潟日報モア, Japan