Hailed by The Strad magazine as the "new century's new talent, (one of) the stars of the next decade,” German violist Roland Glassl was launched into an international career as prizewinner of many prestigious national and international competitions.
Glassl was the first German to win the first prize at the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition in England, where he was also awarded the Peter Schidlof Prize for the finalist with the most beautiful tone. Other awards include first prize at the II. Viola Competition of the German Viola Society, top prize at the 1st International Viola Competition Vienna, second prize at the Primrose Viola Competition, and first prize at the Washington International Competition for strings.
Concert tours have take him through Europe, North- and South America, and China. Glassl has appeared at Wigmore Hall in London, at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Peking, the Berlin Philharmonie, the Ravinia Festival in Chicago/ USA, Chamber Music International (CMI) in Dallas/ USA, the Caramoor Festival in New York, Musica Riva in Riva del Garda/ Italy, and Open Chamber Music in Prussia Cove/England. As a soloist, Glassl has performed with conductors such as Sir Colin Davis, Howard Griffiths, Hans Richter, Markus Poschner, Alfred Eschwé, Julius Karr-Bertoli and orchestras such as the Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich, the China National Opera House Symphony Orchestra, the Georgian Chamber Orchestra, the German Philharmonic Orchestra Rhineland-Palatinate, the Pécs Symphony Orchestra, the Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra and the Prague Chamber Orchestra.
As a chamber musician, Glassl has collaborated with leading artists, including Julia Fischer, Michael Sanderling, Lisa Batiashvili, Miriam Fried, Pekka Kuusisto, Sharon Kam, Atar Arad, Leon Fleischer, Michael Tree, and Hariolf Schlichtig.
From 1999 to 2015 Roland Glassl was the violist of the Mandelring Quartet, recognised as one of the foremost quartets in the world with frequent engagements in virtually every major chamber music hall. The quartet’s numerous recordings, which span much of their wide-ranging repertoire, have garnered the German Music Critics’ Prize as well as multiple nominations for the International Classical Music Award. Since 2004, Glassl is professor of viola at the at the Musikhochschule Frankfurt as successor of Tabea Zimmermann.
Roland Glassl was born in Germany, into a luthier's family with a tradition of many generations of violin making. He currently performs on a viola made by his father, who was also his first violin teacher. Later, he continued his studies at the “Musikhochschule München” with Ana Chumachenco. After receiving his artist diploma with distinction, he came to the United States to study violin with Paul Biss and viola with Atar Arad at Indiana University. Fascinated by the deep, warm sound of the viola, he decided to devote himself to the instrument and its music.
“Brilliance is not a strong enough word – it’s more like an electric shock. The music transfixes the listener from literally the very first note, electrifying heart and brain without any advance warning. Mendelssohn’s music as played by the Mandelring Quartet, under extreme tension, heated and feverish, is dangerously close to catching fire!” So wrote the Neue Zürcher Zeitung in a CD review. In 2014 The Strad, the leading English-language classical music magazine, gave the Mandelring Quartet a title page and a detailed portrait. The music magazine Fono Forum classes the ensemble as one of the best half-dozen string quartets in the world.
The Mandelring Quartet’s success in winning some great competitions – in Munich (ARD), Evian and Reggio Emilia (Premio Paolo Borciani) – was what launched their international career. Today their performing commitments take them to international musical centres such as Vienna, Paris, London, Madrid, New York, Los Angeles and Vancouver. In addition their concert diary includes regular tours to Central and South America, the Near East and Asia. They are also warmly welcomed guests at leading festivals including the Schwarzenberg Schubertiade and those at Schleswig-Holstein, Rheingau, Lockenhaus and Montpellier. Wherever these four musicians appear, they leave behind lasting musical impressions: for example, after the Mandelring Quartet’s performance of their Shostakovich quartet cycle at the Salzburg Festival the Salzburger Nachrichten wrote “A memorable festival experience not likely to be equalled in the near future.”
The HambacherMusikfest, the Mandelring Quartet’s own festival in its home town of Neustadt on the Weinstrasse (Wine Road), has developed into a meeting point for lovers of chamber music from all over the globe. Since 2010 the ensemble has had a concert series of its own in the Berliner Philharmonie, and since 2016 another in the Residenz, Munich.
The Mandelring Quartet celebrated its 30th birthday in 2013 in the Berlin Radialsystem V with a project called “3 from amongst 30”, five concerts at each of which the audience was invited to select a programme of three works from a list of thirty immediately before the start.
Numerous prize-winning CD recordings testify to the quartet’s exceptional quality and wide-ranging repertoire. Their recording of the complete quartets of Shostakovich attracted particular attention and came to be regarded by critics as the benchmark recording of these works. Their recording of all Mendelssohn’s chamber music for strings also received outstanding reviews. Their current project is a complete recording of all the string chamber music of Brahms.