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Barbara Maria Willi (Harpsichord)

Born: Czech Republic (?)

The Czech (?) harpsichordist, Barbara Maria Willi, studied harpsichord in Freiburg (Germany) and in Strasbourg (France with Aline Zylberajch). In 1995, she passed with distinction in harpsichord/hammerklavier performance (with Professor Kenneth Gilbert) and historic performance practice (with Professor Nikolaus Harnoncourt) at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. In the same year she was awarded the “Prix d'encouragement” at the harpsichord competition in Bruges. Valuable stimuli came for her from participation in master-classes with teachers such as Jesper Christensen, Jos van Immerseel, Gordon Murray, Elizabeth Chojnacka and Christopher Stembridge.

At present Barbara Maria Willi has a position as the Professor in historic keyboard instruments at the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts in Brno. With the support of the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), she founded, and conducts a harpsichord class at the university. She has also conducted master classes at the Early Music Institute of the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik, Trossingen, (Germany) and with the Dutch tenor Marius van Altena at the Týn School, Prague. She has performed at master-classes given by Maurice Bourgue and Sergio Azzolini at the Bohuslav Martinu International Academy of Chamber Music Prague.

Her wide-ranging activities in the area of solo and chamber performance have resulted in numerous recordings for Czech television, Czech radio, and for German, French and Swiss radio stations. She has also performed at a number of renowned European music festivals including the Züricher Streicherwochen, the Toujours Mozart festival, the Michaelstein Bach festival, the Mitte Europa festival, the Bohuslav Martinu festival and Concentus Moraviae.

As a guest artistic director Barbara Maria Willi has performed with and conducted the Prague ensemble Collegium Marianum, including a stage performance of J. H. Schmelzer's serenade Hercules und Omphale with the Belgian choreograph Sigrid T'Hooft at the Baroque Czechia festival. She arranged the music for the stage performance of Claudio Monteverdi's opera, Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria by the Chamber Opera of the Janáček Academy of Brno, and co-directed it with Marek Štryncl. The performance took place in Brno and at the festival, Opera 2001, in the Stable's theatre, Prague. Other larger projects of Barbara Willi's have included rehearsals and staging of a concert performance of Purcell's opera The Indian Queen with John Holloway in Trossingen (1998) and of Antonio Vivaldi's serenade La Senna festiggiante with Dagmar Valentová (2001) in Prague. She also founded the Baroque ensemble Capella Apollinis.

Her recording entitled "Intrada di Polcinelli", featuring newly-discovered sonatas by J. H. Schmelzer from the Kromeříž music collection was awarded the "Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik". It was nominated "CD of the Month" by the German journal Klassik heute (1/2001) and has met with a favourable overseas response.
In 2000, she co-operated with the mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená and the counter-tenor Thierry Grégoire in a performance of George Frideric Handel's cantatas at the music festival Concentus Moraviae. The television broadcast of the performance was awarded the prestigious Golden Prague Festival Prize, 2000. In 2001, she has continued working with Magdalena Kožená on the latter's recording of the CD with the Prague Chamber Philharmonia under Michel Swierczewski for Deutsche Grammophon, featuring works by W.A. Mozart, Ch.W. Gluck and J. Mysliveček. Barbara Maria Willi was program director of the International music festival Concentus Moraviae 2002, the most prominent Early Music festival in Central Europe. In March 2004 her solo recording confronting comtemporary works (Andriessen, Ligeti) with Baroque compositions (Rameau, Picchi and J.S. Bach) was issued. In 2005 she was member or the jury of the International harpsichord competition in the frame of Prague Spring Festival.

Source: Central European Music Agency Website; Collegium Marianum Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (June 2008)

Barbara Maria Willi: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Links to other Sites

Central European Music Agency: Barbara Maria Willi

Collegium Marianum: Barbara Maria Willi - harpsichord [English/Czech]

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