Berlin, 30 September 2022. From Zhuhai to Ufa, New York to Hesse, Spanish violinist María Dueñas wins prizes – not to mention audience ovations and rave reviews – wherever she goes. Hailed for playing with “freedom and joyous individuality” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung), this sensational artist is the latest winner of the Menuhin Competition, the world’s most prestigious prize for young violinists. Born in Granada, based in Vienna, with concert dates stretching ahead of her at venues worldwide, Dueñas is one of the most thoughtful and communicative musicians on the current classical scene. Today, she signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon.
Dueñas is set to launch her DG recording career with the Beethoven Violin Concerto, a bold choice of repertoire that reflects the gravity and substance of her music-making. She is recording her debut album, scheduled for release in May 2023, with the Wiener Symphoniker and Manfred Honeck. The violinist, who enjoys composition, has written her own cadenzas for the concerto.
“For me, Deutsche Grammophon quite simply means great music – I grew up listening to my mother’s vinyl DG recordings of Milstein and Oistrakh,” says María Dueñas. “So of course I’m thrilled to join the label myself and especially to have the opportunity to record one of the greatest violin concertos ever written. Exploring the Beethoven and developing my interpretation of this work with the wonderful Wiener Symphoniker and Maestro Honeck is a dream come true.”
“María is an audacious young musician who is making a strong start to her recording journey with Beethoven as her first project,” observes Valérie Gross, Deutsche Grammophon’s Senior A&R Director. “There’s a special magic in her playing – an energy and lightness combined with extraordinary depth and sensibility. We’re very much looking forward to working with her.”
“We’re delighted about the new collaboration with María”, adds Dr Clemens Trautmann, President Deutsche Grammophon. “She’s such an expressive violinist, whose outstanding technical abilities match her sensitivity for sound quality and zest for fresh musical experiences. It’s fascinating to observe that her creativity extends to compositions of her own, high-profile world premieres and audiovisual projects. Such comprehensive talent comes along maybe once in a generation.”
Born in 2002, María Dueñas enrolled at the Ángel Barrios Conservatory in her native Granada when she was seven. So rapid was her progress that only four years later she was awarded a scholarship to study abroad by Juventudes Musicales Madrid. Accepted as a student at the Carl Maria von Weber College of Music in Dresden, she was soon spotted by violinist Wolfgang Hentrich and conductor Marek Janowski, 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.
Competition success soon followed, with her most notable awards including victories at the 2017 Zhuhai International Mozart Competition, 2018 Vladimir Spivakov International Violin Competition in Ufa, 2021 Getting to Carnegie Competition, 2021 Viktor Tretyakov International Violin Competition and 2021 Rheingau Music Festival (career advancement prize), as well as both first prize and the audience prize at the 2021 Menuhin Competition, which also led to her receiving the loan of a Stradivari violin from the collection of Jonathan Moulds. As a result, she is in high demand as soloist with many of the world’s leading orchestras and in recent years has been invited to perform at such prestigious venues as Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow, the Vienna Musikverein, Madrid’s Auditorio Nacional, Carnegie Hall in New York and Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
Dueñas is also passionate about chamber music and has given recitals with baritone Matthias Goerne and pianist Itamar Golan, among others. She has also premiered several works written for and dedicated to her by the late Catalan composer Jordi Cervelló, including the Milstein Caprice.
Her own solo piano piece Farewell, written for the 2016 “Von fremden Ländern und Menschen” Competition for Young Composers was recently recorded by Evgeny Sinaiski and turned into a music video during lockdown, a project that reveals Dueñas’s multifaceted creativity. “I just love when different arts merge into one and become more accessible to a larger audience,” she comments. “I think this is the responsibility of every artist.”
In May 2022, Dueñas gave the world premiere of Gabriela Ortiz’s violin concerto Altar de cuerda, dedicated to her, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel at Walt Disney Concert Hall (“Poised and unshowy, she owns this exceedingly difficult concerto” – Los Angeles Times). She will join forces with the orchestra and its Music & Artistic Director for further performances of the concerto in LA (6–9 October), at Boston’s Symphony Hall (23 October) and at Carnegie Hall (25 October). Other forthcoming highlights include appearances with the Orchestre de Paris and Paavo Järvi at the Philharmonie de Paris (29 & 30 September), a tour with Gustavo Gimeno and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (8–18 February 2023), and a series of high-profile concerts and broadcasts in the UK (including a recital next summer at Wigmore Hall), as one of the current intake of BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists.
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, as well as the above-mentioned Stradivari.