Rigorosum – Susanne Scholz

The Voice of the Golden Instruments: An exploration of music through the Freiberg Renaissance violins

In this concluding defence, Susanne Scholz leads the audience into the perfect setting for a final exploration of the sound of the unique Renaissance violin instruments that are the focus of her doctoral thesis. For more than 400 years, they were preserved almost untouched, in the burial chapel of the Saxon prince electors, and now their copies will resound in the mausoleum of Ferdinand II, a descendant of the Habsburg princes who shared a common love of music with the princes of the Bavarian and Saxon courts of the 16th century.

The aim of Susanne Scholz' research over the last four years was, on the one hand, to demonstrate the relevance of these instruments to the musical world of today and, on the other hand, to explore their musical potential.
The instruments were to be put in context with their history, with the history of the place of their survival and the history of violin making and violin playing as well as with music making in general at that time.
The study of architectural literature, of sources that provide information about the use of music, about the enjoyment of music by the princely music lovers, about the history of those first centuries of the existence of violin instruments and the mentality of music making therefore formed one part of this exploration.
Another one was to apply this knowledge directly to playing on these violin instruments.

This was done in collaboration with colleagues and students and involved much more than researching methods of overcoming the difficulties these instruments present when approached to be played.
By studying mainly primary sources and linking the effects of this knowledge directly to the playing of the instruments, the aim was to override the prior knowledge associated with newer instruments and to open up a wide range of possibilities for dealing with sound production on the copies of these Renaissance violins.
The most important object of research was therefore the musician's way of thinking and the possibilities of influencing the mind through new knowledge by merging knowledge and musical expression.
This presentation will feature four of the copies of the Renaissance violins, played exclusively by the doctoral candidate. With the musical support from two expert colleagues Michael Hell (organ) and Tanja Vogrin (voice), Susanne Scholz will perform music by Antonio Scandello2 (1517–1580), Orlando di Lasso (1532–1594), Giovanni Bassano (1551/1552–1617) and the Bartholomäus & Paul Hess (1518–1585).

Internal Supervisors and External Advisors: Andreas Böhlen (Zürcher Hochschule der Künste), Klaus Aringer (Kunstuniversität Graz), Marc Vanscheeuwijck (University of Oregon).

Susanne Scholz

Renaissance Violin

Violinist on Renaissance, Baroque and Classical instruments and conductor of ensembles from the Renaissance consort to an opera ensemble, performs concerts and gives master classes and lectures throughout Europe and beyond. In addition to her studies in Graz, Vienna and The Hague she gained musical experience in many countries, especially in France, Belgium and Italy.
Since 1995 Susanne has been active as a teacher, first in Vienna (Private University), then from 1999 to 2017 in Leipzig and since 2012 in Graz, where she is a professor for baroque violin and chamber music/baroque orchestra and head of the Early Music department. Working together regularly with colleagues from all over Europe, she strives to demonstrate and pass on her passion for new questions in music practice. She explores new repertoire and how to convey this cultural richness to the audience, is active as researcher and is currently working on her doctoral theses.
Susanne Scholz directed major opera productions in Leipzig, many of them as first modern-day performances, with operas by Sebastiani, Heinichen, Telemann, Bononcini, Förster, Blow and Hasse. She has also led major works by Vivaldi, Purcell, Campra, Stradella, Fux, Draghi and Lully. In all these productions, Susanne Scholz directs the musical side of the productions from the concertmaster’s desk. In Graz, Susanne Scholz is currently conducting opera productions of a series (called “Opernkurzgenuss”) in cooperation between the University of Arts and the Opera Graz so far with compositions by Monteverdi, Händel, G.M.Bononcini , Pergolesi and Rameau.
Lately she has extended her experience also towards contemporary music.
Numerous recordings bear witness to her artistic activity and the research carried out in the field of historical musical practice has led to several musicological publications. Three very special recordings combine both fields: one with her Renaissance ensemble "chordae freybergenses" (“Im Himmel und auf Erden”, 2015) and two together with her favorite harpsichordist Michael Hell ("L'Immagine di Corelli", 2018 and "The origins of Corelli", 2022).