The German pianist, Danjulo Ishizaka, is the son of the German piano teacher Ruth Nathrath and Japanese immigrant Junkichi Ishizaka. His sister is the pianist Kimiko Douglass-Ishizaka. He began taking cello lessons at the age of 4. Boris Pergamenschikov, with whom he studied at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin from 1998 until 2004, has been a fundamental influence on him, both artistically and personally. After Pergamenschikow's death in 2004, Ishizaka completed his studies at the Academy with Tabea Zimmermann from 2004 to 2006. In addition, he has been strongly influenced by Bernhard Greenhouse, Michael Denhoff, György Kurtág, Menahem Pressler and the Amadeus-Quartet.
At a tender age, Danjulo Ishizaka was able to call attention to himself through numerous prizes won at international competitions. Particularly noteworthy is the first prize at the renowned international ARD Competition in Munich (2001), though he also previously was a first prize-winner at other important international competitions, exceptionally noteworthy are the international Gaspar Cassado Competition in Spain (1998) and the international Lutoslawski Competition in Warsaw (1999). Upon entering his last competition, he became first prize-winner at the Grand Prix Emanuel Feuermann of the Kronberg Academy and the Universität der Künste Berlin (2002), held for the first time under the patronage of Daniel Barenboim for the legendary cellist’s centenary.
Danjulo Ishizaka's first concerts brought the cellist to the Berlin Philharmonic Hall at the young age of 17. His international debut took place in 2003 with the Wiener Symphoniker in the Wiener Musikverein under direction of Krzysztof Penderecki. Finally, in 2004 he debuted at Suntory Hall in Tokyo, in 2006 at Carnegie Hall in New York, in 2008 at the Royal Albert Hall in London and in 2010 at the Royal Festival Hall in London. He worked in close collaboration with Rostropovich. The cello legend held Danjulo in high regard and described Danjulo’s performance with these words: “phenomenal in his technical ability, perfect in his musical creative power”. Unfortunately, the European Tour planned for 2007 under the direction of Rostropovich in honor of his 80th birthday could not take place due to Rostropovich’s rapidly deteriorating health and his subsequent death. Danjulo was chosen to participate in BBC Radio 3's renowned "New Generation Artists Scheme," offering him the opportunity to produce numerous studio recordings in 2007 and 2008 - solo, accompanied by piano and by the five BBC Symphony Orchestras - as well as holding debut recitals at Wigmore Hall London.
After receiving first prize in both the ARD Competition and Grand Prix Emanuel Feuermann, Danjulo Ishizaka is today ranked among the most outstanding cellists of his generation internationally. His exceptional timbre and straightforward musical tone testify to a high degree of maturity and high recognition value. He “is (…) a veritable musical personality, phenomenal in his technical potential” (Süddeutsche Zeitung), “spectacular, brilliant and highly expressive” (FAZ), he “sings on the cello (…), each melodic vibration expresses an emotion, profoundly musical and profoundly human” (Süddeutsche Zeitung), “his performance is certain to be the highlight of the evening” (Tagesspiegel Berlin), “captivating and highly poetic”. (Guardian)
His international concert schedule regularly takes him throughout Europe, Asia and the USA. He has been performing around the world with artists including Lisa Batiashvili, Ray Chen, Veronika Eberle, Julia Fischer, Viviane Hagner, Martin Helmchen, Gidon Kremer, Baiba Skride, Tabea Zimmermann, Nils Mönkemeyer and Antje Weithaa; and with leading orchestras such as the Bayerischer Rundfunk Symphonieorchester, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, all 5 BBC Orchestras, Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Orchestre de l'Opéra National de Paris, Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, and Zürcher Kammerorchester, to mention a few. Among others, he performed under the baton of such famous conductors as Gerd Albrecht, John Axelrod, Sir Andrew Davis, Christoph Eschenbach, Lawrence Foster, Michail und Vladimir Jurowski, Sir Roger Norrington, Mstislaw Rostropovich, Michael Sanderling, and Leonard Slatkin.
Danjulo is regularly invited to perform at renowned music festivals such as the Cellofestival in Kronberg, the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, the Rheingau Musik Festival, the Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival, the Kissinger Sommer, the BBC Proms, the Verbier Festival, the Luzern Festival, the Hong Kong Arts Festival and the Salzburg Easter Festival.
Danjulo’s outstanding debuts during the 2014-2015 season were with the Kölner Kammerorchester under the baton of Christoph Poppen and with the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Leonard Slatkin at the opening ceremonies of the Beethoven Festival in Warsaw. During the 2015-2016 season, Danjulo is debuting with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Leonard Slatkin, the Krakow Philharmonic and the Konzerthaus Chamber Orchestra Berlin - along with several re-invites to the Staatskapelle Weimar, Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, Kobe Chamber Orchestra and others.
In addition, Danjulo Ishizaka is Professor at the Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber Dresden.
On his debut CD with Sony BMG (2006), Danjulo Ishizaka recorded sonatas by Benjamin Britten, César Franck and Felix Mendelssohn with pianist Martin Helmchen. In 2006, the CD was awarded the “Echo Klassik” award of the German Phonographic Academy. In 2007-2008, he was chosen for the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists scheme. At the end of 2012, he was honored with the Hideo Saito Memorial Fund Award, one of Japan’s biggest music awards, presented by the Sony Music Foundation in Tokyo. In 2014, he was awarded the Gramophone Award for the Chamber Music Recording of the Year for his recording of the Schubert String Quintet with the Pavel Haas Quartet.
From 2004 to 2013, Danjulo Ishizaka played the Stradivarius "Lord Aylesford", previously played by Janos Starker, and he currently plays the Stradivari Cello "Ex-Feuermann" (also known as "De Munck") (1730), which was previously played by the legendary cellist Emanuel Feuermann. Both celli are provided to him by the Nippon Music Foundation. Ishizaka also plays the Schnabl Cello "Ex-Pergamenschikow", provided to him by the Kronberg Academy.