Wolfram Christ is one of relatively few violists in the world to have developed a major career as a soloist, and as a soloist with a throng of enthusiastic admirers, too. He was the principal violist with the Berlin Philharmonic for over 20 years, making many solo recordings with the orchestra, including the Berlioz Harold in Italy (with Lorin Maazel), the Bartók Concerto for Viola (with Seiji Ozawa), and various other works with Karajan, Abbado, Colin Davis, and other conductors. Christ was also a founding member, with Claudio Abbado and Michael Haefliger, of the highly acclaimed ad hoc ensemble the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. He has performed with various chamber groups, as well, and possesses a repertory reaching from the Baroque to the modern, taking in works by J.S. Bach, Telemann, Mozart, Brahms, Dvorák, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Ravel, Hindemith, Jolivet, Martinu, and many contemporary composers. Christ has also served as artistic director of the Sydney Conservatory and is on the faculty of the Musikhochschule in Freiburg. He was the principal conductor of the Kurpfalz Chamber Orchestra in Mannheim and regularly conducts other ensembles, including the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra and Royal Danish Orchestra. Christ's recordings are available on DG, EMI, and Sony.
Wolfram Christ was born on October 17, 1955, in Hachenburg, Germany. He studied violin from age six, but transferred to the viola at 12. At 20 he won first prize at the Munich-based ARD International Music Competition. Christ launched his international career, but in 1978 was engaged by Herbert von Karajan to become the principal violist of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Christ held the post until 1999.
Meanwhile, he made frequent appearances as soloist, many with the Berlin Philharmonic. He also made numerous recordings, both as soloist and in chamber music. In 1992 he was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque for his DG recording of the Debussy Trio for flute, viola, and harp.
From 1995-2000 Christ served as artistic director and advisor to the Sydney Music Conservatory. Since 1999 he has held a professorship in viola at the Freiburg Musikhochschule.
In the new century Christ has turned his attention to conducting, serving in the Kurpfalz Chamber post for four years (2004-2008) and regularly leading the Basel Chamber Orchestra, the Munich Chamber Orchestra, and other European ensembles. Among Christ's later recordings is the acclaimed 2003 EMI CD of the Dvorák Quintet for Piano and Strings with Sarah Chang, Leif Ove Andsnes, and others.