Making Sense Of The Senseless: Leila Josefowicz on B. A. Zimmermann’s violin concerto

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As Leila Josefowicz explains, the unexpected twists and turns of B. A. Zimmermann’s Violin Concerto make it a rollercoaster worth riding. Tom Stewart finds out more

Bernd Alois Zimmermann was born into a family of devout Catholics in Cologne just before the end of the First World War. Twenty-two years later, the young composer was conscripted by the Nazis to join the Wehrmacht on both the Western and Eastern fronts. ‘He returned physically poisoned and psychologically broken,’ explains violinist Leila Josefowicz, whose recording of Zimmermann’s 1950 Violin Concerto with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and conductor Hannu Lintu is released this month. ‘The principles of his upbringing – that those who did good would have good done unto them – were a devastating clash with his experience of fighting on the wrong side. Wartime is there in all his work, and it absolutely frames the concerto. The whole piece is haunted.’

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