“Young blood, vintage playing … María Dueñas’s artistry with the violin is reminiscent of that of the great masters of the first half of the twentieth century.”
La Nueva España, reviewing a performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto in Oviedo, January 2021
“Such soulful, expressive playing simply shouldn’t be possible from a 19-year-old, but she plumbed emotional depths that elude many musicians of far greater experience.”
The Times, reviewing a performance of Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto in Glasgow, February 2022
Spanish violinist María Dueñas beguiles audiences with the breathtaking array of colours she draws from her instrument. Her technical prowess, artistic maturity and bold interpretations have inspired rave reviews, captivated competition juries, and secured invitations to appear with many of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has hailed the “freedom and joyous individuality” of her playing, while The Strad described her rising-star status as “seemingly unstoppable” after she won a whole series of international violin competitions. Not least among these was her livestreamed run to victory at the 2021 Menuhin Violin Competition, at which she won not only the first prize and audience prize, but also a global online following and the loan of a golden-period Stradivari from Jonathan Moulds’ private collection.
María signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon in September 2022 and will open her DG discography with Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. Recorded in Vienna with the Wiener Symphoniker and Manfred Honeck and featuring the violinist’s own cadenzas, her debut album will be released in May 2023.
A multi-faceted musician, Dueñas became fond of composing after she started writing cadenzas for Mozart´s violin concertos. A solo piano piece, Farewell, was awarded a prize in the 2016 “Von fremden Ländern und Menschen” Competition for Young Composers. Recorded by Evgeny Sinaiski, it was transformed into a music video filmed during the pandemic.
A dedicated chamber musician, María has performed with baritone Matthias Goerne and pianist Itamar Golan, among other artists. She has also premiered several works written for and dedicated to her by the late Catalan composer Jordi Cervelló, including the Milstein Caprice.
Born in Granada in 2002, María Dueñas fell in love with classical music via the recordings her parents played constantly at home and the concerts she attended in her native city. She started playing violin at six and enrolled at Granada’s Conservatory a year later. In 2014 she was awarded a scholarship to study abroad by Juventudes Musicales Madrid and moved to Dresden to study at the Carl Maria von Weber College of Music. There she was soon spotted by violinist Wolfgang Hentrich and conductor Marek Janowsky, at whose invitation she would later make her debut as soloist with the San Francisco Symphony. In 2016, she and her family moved again, this time to Austria to enable her to study with the renowned violin teacher Boris Kuschnir, on the recommendation of her mentor Vladimir Spivakov, at the private Music and Arts University of Vienna and the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz.
Her competition victories began with the 2017 Zhuhai International Mozart Competition and 2018 Vladimir Spivakov International Violin Competition. In addition to her success in the Menuhin Competition, 2021 saw her win first prize at the Getting to Carnegie Competition, the Grand Prize at the Viktor Tretyakov International Violin Competition, and the career advancement prize at the Rheingau Music Festival. She was also named as a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist 2021–23.
Last season she gave her first appearances with, among others, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Oslo Philharmonic under Manfred Honeck, the Dresdner Philharmonie and Marek Janowski, the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg and Gustavo Gimeno, the Staatskapelle Berlin under Alain Altinoglu and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Domingo Hindoyan. Dueñas also made her debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel at the Hollywood Bowl in August 2021 and joined them again in May 2022 to give the world premiere of Gabriela Ortiz’s violin concerto Altar de cuerda, of which she is the dedicatee, at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Forthcoming highlights include the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Orchestre de Paris and Paavo Järvi (29–30 September 2022); repeat performances of Ortiz’s Altar de cuerda with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Maestro Dudamel at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Symphony Hall, Boston and Carnegie Hall in New York (6‑9, 23 and 25 October respectively); the Dvořák Violin Concerto with the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester and Michael Sanderling (19 October); and a tour with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Gustavo Gimeno (8–18 February 2023).
María Dueñas plays the Nicolò Gagliano violin of 17?4, kindly loaned by the Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben, and the Guarneri del Gesù “Muntz” of 1736, on generous loan from the Nippon Music Foundation.