If you are not critiziced you are doing something wrong


The German violinist David Garrett has a personal story just like a prodigy from the classical music world.

However, he has broken down limitations for what classical music is able to. That is due to his unsnobbish view on music, his multiple musical talent and his interest in communicating with his audience.

On April 13th David Garrett is visiting DR Koncerthuset in Copenhagen with a concert as a part of his tour “Iconic” – the title of his latest album.

Please, read this interview with the violin virtuoso who holds the record as the youngest person ever to sign a contract with Deutsche Grammophon.

David Garretts’ concerts are relaxed, humurous and sometimes quite rocky.

Still, classical music is the primary source for him.

Foto: Christoph Köstlin

When he is on stage he most of all looks like a rock star. A bar chair is his office chair, his long hair curled up in a careless look, his black leather jacket, black jeans and black boots often unlaced make a cool look and he takes over the room with his personality. But instead of a microphone or a guitar he holds a violin; his whole figure is an unusual symbiosis of a cool and present expression and a sensitive material rich of tradition. In the hands of David Garrett the violin works freely. As if the violin follows its master in every path through sickness and health. The violin is transformed to new experiences that opens the world as only seen rarely in the world of classical music.

Like a common thread David Garretts holds on to the sensitive and heartfelt sound of the violin through it all – rock, pop, classical and even house music.

David Garrett has created his own universe of music and that seems very natural for him as an artist. “Artists before me did take risks so in fact that is just a natural part of the job as an artist. If you are not criticised you have done something wrong”, David Garrett estimates with enthusiasm as Klassisk bureau gets him on the line for the interview.

In many ways the 42 year old David Garretts’ story is a classic sunshine prodigy story. He picked up his first violin at the age of 4 and joined the music academy in Lübeck about 3 years later. 13 years old he signed with Deutsche Grammophon as the youngest-ever artist. Now that same company has released his latest album “Iconic” which David Garrett has dedicated to the composers and teachers by whom he is inspired. There you have music of Bach, Dvořák, Gluck, Kreisler, Mendelssohn and Schumann in new arrangements. Also, he is being joined by his former teacher Itzhak Perlman and Andrea Bocelli on the album.

Of course, David Garrett is also educated from The Juilliard School in New York being a pupil of Itzhak Perlman. Also, David Garrett has been cooperating with Claudio Abbado and Yehudi Menuhin among others. At the age of 15 he recorded all of Paganinis’ very challenging caprices. In other words: The multitalented violinist has been to the most important places and has cooperated with the most important people from the top of the world of the international classical music. However, he came to a point where he started walking a new path with his music.

David Garrets’ concerts often look like a rock concert. But he uses the softness and the heartfelt sound of the violin even when he is playing pop and rock.

Foto: Wiola Janoschek

Classical orchestra, a rock band or a trio: David Garrett plays in almost any kind of constellation giving his own versions of well known music.

Foto: Uwe Müller

For more than 10 years he has been doing crossover projects including a TV-show presenting the theme from “Pirates of the Caribbean”. His recording of Coldplays’ “Viva la vida”, a live version of Jon Bon Jovis’ “Thank you” plus a rock version of A. Vivaldis’ “Summer” are examples of Garretts limitless musical inventions. Or let us mention a concert from August 2022 where he really brings the global hit song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams to life. A musical performance that makes you rock the chair and cast away the grumphy attitude. 

Listening to his own small piece “Winter Lullaby” from 2008 one will see how Garrett unites the classical violin sound and a background of soft string music and light rhythmic instruments.

In generel it is clear that David Garrett uses the technique from the classical music when playing rhythmic genres. That makes him an integrating croosover artist of the best.

In Germany and around Europe David Garrett attracts thousands and thousands of people in big audiences. The stage smoke, the stage light in many colours and pop and rock music on the repertoire all make his concerts look more like a rock concert than a classical concert. With humor, funny effects and that relaxed take on how to do a concert, David Garrett involves himself 100 procent in the show, which the audience are getting into, too. Sometimes literally. Like when he had two children playing the guitar on stage or that night, he invited a lady from the audience and played a song for her.

It was hard to convince the criticals, that you can be a good musician even if you do crossover".

David Garrett

On the current ”Iconic”-tour which mainly takes place in Germany, Austria and Switzerland Garrett is on stage with Frank van der Heijden, guitar, and the bassist Rogier van Wegberg. One can expect a wide ranging repertoire for the concert. “I do warm up with classical music”, says Garrett. “All is based on classical music. It’s going to be traditional and still new”, he adds.

Being on tour at the moment, David Garrett is in a special period in his life as an artist. “Maintaining a skill is a part of the job. Though, it is more intense work when being on a tour. You try to develop details, and I write my own manuscript to prepare the words I say on stage”, explains Garrett. Saying this he refers to the small intermezzos in his concerts containing a little storytelling or comments on the music. “I prepare it to be personal. It is about my own approach to music, and I also play for people that are not used to classical music“, David Garrett assesses.

As Klassisk bureau confronts him with the quote that he unites cultures, he kindly rebukes. ”I like to unite people, not cultures. Everybody has their own take on music, and I like to connect human kind in a great emotion”, he explains. At the same time he lets us know that he appreciates the individual commitment that music in its actual being leads up to. At the same time music can unite people in one experience. For David Garrett this new way of performing with his instrument has resulted in critics and unwillingness from the classical establishment.  

However, he did overcome the battles. Now, music is more connected across limits of styles, he says. David Garrett himself has been a part of this process. “I might pride myself for opening doors for many of my colleagues”, he explains and refers to his successful inclusion of other classical musicians in his concerts. “It was hard to convince the criticals, that you can be a good musician even if you do crossover. Now, they enjoy it. I think, music is becoming less in boxes now”, he assumes.

It is clear that David Garrett has created a brand as an artist that is so strong that he is independent. “I like to make a change. I like to bring music forward and being an artist”, he says with great joy.

Now, critics is rather a source of power than an obstacle to him; during his time as a pupil he used to work as a model and now he runs his own merchandise shop online: T-shirts, coffee mugs, lighters and even fans with the David Garrett trademark are here available. Also, he is offering his own music in note books and his autobiography entitled “Wenn ihr wüstet” from March 2022 is also for sale. In English, too.

Foto: Uwe Müller

However, David Garrett does not regard himself as a rebel. The mission for an artist is naturally spoken to walk a new path. “I feel traditional in that way”, he says. “In the 19th century it was common to do your own arrangements of an other composers work. It has to be very personal and very close to your soul”, David Garrett says. If some, David Garrett has the right to say so. Also, it brings him on to distinguish between being a musician or an artist. “Being a musician, you are a servant to the music. When you are an artist, it begins with your own thoughts and visions. Music has to be very personal for you, and I want to develop my own style and personality”, David Garrett explains and at the same time he emphasizes that it also depends on having a good orchestra and a good conductor. That the surroundings must be good for a good performance. 

Finally, there are some pieces of advice from David Garrett to a hopeful musician out there reading this interview.  “Take risks because you are convinced. Believe in your own ideas. Prove the criticals wrong. Make the difference”.
There you go.


The one and only concert on the Iconic-tour in Scandinavia takes place in DR Koncerthuset, Copenhagen April 13th at 20.00 PM. Ticket prices from 555 DKR. 


Published March 13th 2022

Rachel Einarsson