The German violinist, Isabelle Faust, received her first violin lessons at the age of 5. Her father, then a 31 year old secondary school teacher, decided to learn the violin. He took his young daughter along: the father's talent was not especially stellar, but his infant daughter was able to learn the technical fundamentals of violin playing correctly and at an unusually early age, quickly herself becoming the star pupil. Shortly after that her brother also began to take lessons and when Isabelle was 11 the parents created a family string quartet for which several masterclasses were later organised with some of the leading string players of the time. The early start was, for both the children, the basis for musical careers; Boris Faust has become a viola professional.
By the time she was in her teens, she studied with Christoph Poppen and Dénes Zsigmondy. After winning the Paganini Competition, and keen to broaden her experience, she moved in 1996 to Paris where she lived for the next 9 years. She began entering major international competitions and in 1987 won the International Leopold Mozart Competition of Augsberg (Leopold Mozart's hometown). Although she was the youngest entrant, she won the First Prize. In 1990, the City of Rovigo granted her its Premio Quadrivio Prize. In 1993, she entered the Paganini Competition of Genoa and took First Prize, becoming the first German violinist ever to win it. busy concert career ensued.
It was in France that her first CD appeared, featuring music by Béla Bartók. Isabelle Faust attracted plaudits as an interpreter of Gabriel Fauré. Faust later commented ruefully that it probably did no harm to her career that, because of her French first name, many French listeners assumed she was French. It was also in France that she met her husband.
Isabelle Faust is one of the most impressive violinists of the generation that emerged in the 1990's. She is known for exceptional technique and strong interpretive instincts. She captivates her listeners through her insightful and faithful interpretations, based on a thorough knowledge of the historical context of the works as well as her attention to current scholarship. She has performed as guest soloist with most of the world's major orchestras., including the Philharmoniker Hamburg under Lord Yehudi Menuhin, Berliner Philharmoniker, Radio-Symphonie-Orchester-Berlin, Münchener Kammerorchester, Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Freiburger Barockorchester, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Camerata Salzburg, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart, WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, Radio Symphony Orchestra of Hannover, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Saarbrücken, Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Prague Philharmonia, Weiner-Szász Chamber Symphony, NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo. She made her USA debut in 1995 with the Utah Symphony Orchestra under Joseph Silverstein. 2016 marks her first year as Artistic Partner with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Over the course of her career,she has regularly performed or recorded with world-renowned conductors including John Eliot Gardiner, Philippe Herreweghe, Daniel Harding, Bernard Haitink and Andris Nelsons. During recent years Isabelle Faust developed a close relationship with the late Claudio Abbado and performed and recorded under his baton.
Isabelle Faust performs a wide-ranging repertoire, from J.S. Bach all the way through to contemporary composers such as Ligeti, Lachenmann and Widmann. To highlight this versatility, in addition to her mastery of the great symphonic violin concertos, she also performs works such as György Kurtág's Kafka Fragments with the soprano Anna Prohaska, and Schubertís Octet on historical instruments. She is a proponent of new music and has given world premieres of works by, among others, Olivier Messiaen, Werner Egk, and Jörg Widmann. She will premiere several new works for violin and orchestra during the upcoming seasons, including concerti by the composers Ondrej Adamek, Marco Stroppa, Oscar Strasnoy and Beat Furrer.
Isabelle Faust is also an avid recitalist and chamber musician and has performed in Berlin, Stuttgart, Munich, Paris, Bonn, Bratislava, Brussels, Zürich, Milan, Tokyo, London, and Osaka and locations in the United States and Israel. Among her recital partners have been Clemens Hagen, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Bruno Canino, Steven Isserlis, Bruno Giuranna, Boris Pergamenschikov, and Joseph Silverstein. One of her regular partners - both in performance and in recordings - is pianist Alexander Melnikov.
Isabelle Faust has appeared at several major music festivals, including the Lockenhaus, Bad Kissingen, Berlin, Delft, Colmar, Schleswig-Holstein, the Rheingau Music Festival of Wiesbaden, Schwetzingen, Lyon, Sarasota (Florida), and Lanaudière Canada.
In 2004 Isabelle Faust was appointed Professor of violin at the Berlin University of the Arts. She lives in Berlin and is the mother of a teenage son. Since 1996, she has performed on the "Sleeping Beauty" Stradivarius violin of 1704, on loan from Landesbank Baden-Württemberg. She has also performed with Baroque-style violins and bows.
Isabelle Faust made her debut album in 1997, playing the Béla Bartók Solo Violin Sonata and Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano, with Ewa Kupiec, on the Harmonia Mundi label. This recording won the Gramophone Award of that year for "Young Artist of the Year," citing her "combination of musical intuition and technical finesse. Harmonia Mundi followed that success by engaging her to record other Béla Bartók violin music, including the Second Violin and Piano Sonata. She recorded the complete Haydn Violin Concertos on the PAN Classics label with the Münchener Kammerorchester conducted by Christoph Poppen (her former teacher), and planned to record the complete violin sonatas of Robert Schumann. In addition to the above mentioned above and recordings listed below under "Awards and Prizes," she has recorded works of Antonín Dvořák, Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms (including the Violin Concerto), Alban Berg, Bohuslav Martinů, André Jolivet and others. James R. Oestreich from The New York Times counted her recording of W.A. Mozart's violin concertos among the best recordings of 2016. She has recorded many discs for harmonia mundi with her recital partner Alexander Melnikov. These include their latest album with the Johannes Brahms' Sonatas for violin and piano, as well as Robert Schumannís piano trios. Both, her recording of W.A. Mozart violin concerti with Il Giardino Armonico and Giovanni Antonini, as well as J.S. Bachís harpsichord sonatas with Kristian Bezuidenhout will be released in 2016-2018.