Gerhard Schulz, violin
Isabel Charisius, viola
Valentin Erben, cello
Günter Pichler, Violinist
Günter Pichler began his studies at the University of Music in Vienna in 1955. He was appointed Leader of the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra when he was 18, and when he was 21 Herbert von Karajan engaged him as Leader of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1969 he was awarded the “Mozart Interpretation Prize“.
From 1963 to 2009, Günter Pichler has been Professor at the University of Music and performing Arts in Vienna.
In 1970 Günter Pichler founded the Alban Berg Quartett. The Alban Berg Quartett regularly performed in the music metropolises of the world and is honorary member of the Vienna Konzerthaus Society as well as Associate Artists of the Royal Festival Hall London. It was rewarded more than thirty renowned disc prizes.
From 1993 to 2012 the members of the Alban Berg Quartet were Guest Professors in the Cologne University of Music, as successors to the Amadeus Quartet. The students included some of the best young European chamber music ensembles, such as the Artemis Quartet, the Belcea Quartet, the Casals Quartet, the Fauré Quartet, the Trio con Brio, the ATOS Trio, the Morgenstern Trio…
In 2008, Günter Pichler became head of the string department at the Instituto International de Musica de Camara at the Escuela Superior de Musica Reina Sofia de Madrid. Since then, young quartets from Europe, the USA, Japan and China have travelled to study at this college. Among them are international prize winners such as the Acies Quartet, the Amaryllis Quartet, the Amber Quartet, the Cavaleri Quartet, the Finzi Quartet, the Piatti Quartet, the Jubilee Quartet, the Schumann Quartet, the Van Kuijk Quartet,the Voce Quartet etc.
Complementing his work in the quartet Günter Pichler embarked upon a career as a conductor. Since then he conducted many European orchestras in concerts and on tours (e.g. Vienna, Lausanne, Stuttgart and Israel Chamber Orchestras, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Orchestra della Toscana Firenze, I Pomeriggi Milano, Hallé Orchestra Manchester, Orchestre National de Lille, Royal Flanders Philharmonic, etc.). In Japan he conducted all the major orchestras like Tokyo, Osaka, Sendai, Sapporo Philharmonic and NHK Orchestra Tokyo. He is currently Artistic Advisor of the Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa.
In addition to this, G. Pichler is a visiting professor at the Schubertiade in Schwarzenberg - Austria, the Schleswig Holstein Music Festival - Germany, the International Institute "MISQA" Montreal, and at the Britten Pears School in Aldeburgh, England. Furthermore, he holds lessons at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Italy for three weeks every year.
Since 1992 Günter Pichler has been teaching in ProQuartet-CEMC
Gerhard Schulz, violinist
Born in Austria into a family of musicians, Gerhard Schulz studied violin with Franz Samohyl, Sándor Végh and Shmuel Ashkenasi.Founder of several chamber music groups, including the Salzburg String Trio, the Düsseldorf String Quartet and 1st violin of the Düsseldorf Quartet, Gerhard Schultz was a member of the world famous Alban Berg Quartet with whom he toured worldwide and made several celebrated recordings during 30 years.
In 2008, G. Schulz founds the Waldstein Ensemble (Quartet with piano) ; In 2009, he becomes the Concertmaster of the Copenhaguen Philharmonic Orchestra.
Since 1980, Gerhard Schulz has been teaching violin at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna and a professor of Chamber Music in Stuttgart ; He teached chamber music at the Cologne Conservatory for almost 20 years.
Isabel Charisius, violist
Isabel Charisius is one of the finest violists and chamber musicians of her generation. As a member of the legendary Alban Berg Quartet, in addition to solo performances and engagements as violist with various leading orchestras, Isabel Charisius has appeared regularly at the most prestigious venues in Europe, the Americas and Asia. Isabel Charisius is regularly invited to perform on both the viola and the violin, with distinguished ensembles and great soloists at international festivals and venues.
Alongside her intense concert activity, Isabel Charisius has for many years been dedicated to training new generations of musicians. She is an internationally recognised teacher of viola and chamber music. Her prolific teaching activity includes a professorship at the Musikhochschule Köln (2005-2012), theMusikhochschule Lucerne (since 2006) as well as a wide range of masterclasses at some of the most prestigious academies and institutions (including Britten Pears School/ Aldeburgh, Encuentro de Musica y Academia/Santander, the Dutch String Quartet Academy/ Amsterdam, Guildhall School of Music and Drama/London, the University of Arts/Berlin).
Isabel Charisius students can regularly be found among the winners of international competitions. Many of them are also members of the world’s finest ensembles and orchestras. The ensembles trained by Isabel Charisius include among others the string quartets Heath, Signum, Schuman, Navarra, Amaryllis andBelenus as well as the piano trios Atos and Morgenstern.
Isabel Charisius plays the extraordinary „ABQ“-viola by Laurentius Storioni (1780), a viola by Peter Greiner (1999) and a special violin by Joannes Udalricus Eberle (1753).
In 2017, Isabel Charisius participates in ProQuartet professional training program for the first time.
Valentin Erben, cellist
Valentin Erben was born in 1945 in Pernitz, lower Austria. Valentin Erben got in contact with music very early. He received his first „cello“ – it was a converted viola – at the age of four years. After his first steps with the cello, shown by his father, he started taking lessons in the age of eight years with Paul Freidel, who was the principal cellist ot the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and a student of Julius Klengel.
Influenced by many beautiful musical experiences and meetings – for example numerous concerts at the Hercules Hall in Munich, including unforgetable impressions like listening to Rudolf Serkin, the Veghquartett as well as the representatives of the great french cello tradition like Pierre Fournier, Maurice Gendron and Paul Tortelier. He also made a trip to Pablo Casals in the french Pyrenees. Because of all these impressions, Valentin knew that he want to become a cellist.
1960 Valentin Erben began his cello studies with Walter Reichardt at the Munich Academy of Music. In July 1963 he attended a masterclass at Siena. This experience was very important for his future: he met the famous cellist and pedagogue André Navarra.
1964 he finished his degree at the Academy in Munich and then contiued his studies in Vienna with Tobias Kühne, a former student of Navarra. In February 1965 he performed Schumann cello concerto in the Great Hall of the Wiener Konzerthaus.
From 1965 to 1968 Valentin Erben studied with André Navarra at the Conservatoire in Paris, which was a very important time for him. He also studied chamber music with Jean Hubeau and Joseph Calvet. He received the „Premier Prix“ for cello and chamber music.
In September 1968 he won the international cello competition ARD in Munich.
Back to Vienna, in spring of 1969 he was co-founder of the Alban Berg Quartet. A union of four musicians that should mark the international string quartet scene for almost 40 years.
From 2004 to 2007 Valentin Erben was a also a member of the Lucern Festival Orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado.
In June 2013 Valentin Erben retired from the University of Music in Vienna., where he has tought for over 40 years.
Valentin Erben plays the famous cello by Matteo Goffriller 1722 - "Ex - Pierre Fournier" and "Ex - Yoyo Ma" – kindly on loan from Merito String Instruments Trust GmbH.
To a busy schedule of concerts as a soloist and chamber musician, additionally he gives musica lectures, masterclasses in chamber music, collaboration with composers, singers and dancers.