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Articles & Interviews

These Symphony-commissioned feature articles offer insights into the music you'll hear in the concert hall. We hope you'll find them provocative and entertaining.

May 5, 2017

Q&A with violinist Veronika Eberle

Veronika Eberle (Photo credit: Jan Northoff)

The elegant German violinist Veronika Eberle plays with an intensity and maturity that’s rare in someone who is only 28.  Of course, she made her concerto debut with the Munich Philharmonic when she was 10, so you could consider her a veteran performer.  She brings her violin – the so-called “Dragonetti” Stradivarius from 1700 – and the Schumann Violin Concerto to her debut performances with the SFS between May 17-21.  

Q.  Robert Schumann’s Violin Concerto is still a relatively unfamiliar work.  Why did you choose to bring this piece to the SFS?

A.  This piece is underrated and it shouldn’t be.  I learned it three years ago and it is very close to my heart.  I try to play it and promote it whenever I can.  It’s still not easy – I still feel a little resistance when I try to bring it to some orchestras.  But things have opened up in the last few years, as people finally begin to hear and understand the piece. 

Q.  It has a very strange story – one that even includes a séance. 

A.  (laughs) Yes, where Schumann appeared and said, ‘you must play my piece now.’  But who knows – people have crazy dreams, you know?  But it’s a lovely story to tell.  The real history is that Clara (Schumann) and Brahms and Joachim (the violinist for whom it was written) had not the best opinion of the piece and they put it away and it was lost for 80 or 85 years. 

Veronika Eberle (Photo credit: Felix Broede)

Q. The American violinist Joshua Bell says that Schumann’s slow movement is one of the most beautiful in any violin concerto. 

A. I completely agree.  And when you look into the violin’s history, we have always had these two great works – the Beethoven concerto and the Brahms concerto… but something’s been missing.  Schumann was the link between these two big concertos, and it was missing for many years.  And now we have it back.  It’s so important. 

Q. This is your SFS debut; how do you prepare for something like that?

A.  It’s always very exciting, all the new circumstances.  For me, the most exciting part is when the first rehearsal takes place.  Then you feel the energy, you begin to discuss the music.  And I worked with (conductor) Roberto Abbado a couple of years ago with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and we had an amazing week together. 

Q. Have you been to the Bay Area before?

A. Yes, two summers ago.  Kent Nagano invited me to take part in his chamber music festival that he does in San Francisco and I fell in love with the city.  The people seemed so open-minded, and maybe a little crazy.  I even felt a little European influence there, in a way.

Q.  The Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado said the same thing: that San Francisco felt European, somehow.

A.  (laughs) Well then, we might be right.  

By John Schaefer


Roberto Abbado leads the San Francisco Symphony in Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3, Scottish and Schumann's Violin Concerto with violinist Veronika Eberle, May 17-21 at Davies Symphony Hall. 415-864-6000

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