Considered one of today’s preeminent violin pedagogues, violinist KURT SASSMANNSHAUS holds the distinguished Dorothy Richard Starling Chair for Classical Violin at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). His students include prizewinners of major international competitions, prominent soloists and chamber musicians, and orchestra leaders around the world. Many of them hold important faculty positions in European, Asian, and American Conservatories.
In September 2004 Sassmannshaus premiered the not-for-profit web site www.violinmasterclass.com, a groundbreaking internet site offering free video instruction on all aspects of violin playing. With more than 20 million hits annually this web site made him the most widely effective and globally recognized violin teacher in the history of violin teaching. According to London’s Strad Magazine, he is the “King of the online violin tutorials”. The latest offerings on this site are live online lessons by Sassmannshaus and many of his colleagues. “Access to the best violin instruction has always been a matter of geography and financial ability. Now you can live in Kenya, Peru, Malaysia, or New York and get excellent instruction – this website makes geographical distance and cost of travel irrelevant.”
In 2005 Sassmannshaus founded the Great Wall International Music Academy in Beijing, a summer festival for young string soloists, now in its seventh year. (www.greatwallacademy.org) 60 select students from China and from around the world take lessons, rehearse, and perform in an ideal setting. They are taught by an international faculty, including the American String Quartet and key faculty form major Asian, European and American Schools.
In addition to teaching an international class of conservatory students, Sassmannshaus is renowned for his method of training extraordinary young talent. In 1987, he founded the Starling Preparatory String Project as an integrated pre-collegiate program for talented young string players. This program has earned a worldwide reputation for its unsurpassed offering of performance opportunities for young soloists, especially in the Starling Chamber Orchestra, which Sassmannshaus conducts. The orchestra has appeared throughout Europe, Korea, China, and at New York’s Lincoln Center and received rave reviews for their recordings and live performances. The orchestra was featured on the syndicated Public Radio International show “From the Top,” and has been the subject of feature articles in The New York Times and Washington Post.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Cologne, where he studied with Igor Ozim, Sassmannshaus received a Master’s degree from the Juilliard School as a scholarship student of Dorothy DeLay. He won first prize in the International Chamber Music Competition in Colmar, France. He taught at the University of Texas, Austin and at Sarah Lawrence College before joining CCM full time in 1983. He has also been named guest professor at the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music.
Sassmannshaus has taught master classes in Europe, the United States, Japan, Korea, China, and Australia and is a frequent judge in international violin competitions.
Egon Sassmannshaus, born 1928, is the author of Früher Anfang auf der Geige (Early Start on theViolin), Europe's best selling violin method for children from the age of four. These works were published by Bärenreiterin 1972. With his unique concepts of an easily understood organization of the fingerboard and of introducing all important violin techniques at a very early age he is responsible for the success of generations of European musicians who have been raised with his principles since their childhood. Egon Sassmannshaus was director of the municipal music school in Würzburg,Germany, and an educational consultant to Germany's most influential educational organizations. His own students have reached some of the most important positions in the European music world, including principal positions with Berlin Philharmonic, other leading orchestras, and important teaching appointments.
Starling Chamber Orchestra
The superbly talented musicians of the range in age from 10-18 and are selected by audition from throughout the United States and abroad. They attend weekend classes in performance, ear training, theory, chamber music, and orchestra at the Starling Preparatory String Project at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Founded by Kurt Sassmannshaus in 1987, the Starling Chamber Orchestra offers unprecedented opportunities for young artists to perform as soloists, tour internationally, and make recordings. These young virtuosi and the unique Starling training method have attracted widespread attention, including feature articles in The
Washington Post and The New York Times.
In addition to its subscription series and other local performances in Cincinnati, the Starling Chamber Orchestra maintains a busy international touring and recording schedule. Since 1992, the orchestra has performed frequently at the Aspen Music Festival and has toured Europe, Korea, and the People's Republic of China. They recently returned from a 2003 tour of St. Petersburg, Vienna, and Munich where they received rave reviews and standing ovations.
The Starling Chamber Orchestra's discography includes three discs of Giornovichi violin concerti on the Arte Nova Classics/BMG label. The SCO's CDs, Aspen Serenade, Simply Brilliant!, and Vivaldi's The Four Seasons (recorded on rare violins) were produced by the Starling Project Foundation and have been highly praised by American Record Guide.
The orchestra has been twice featured on National Public Radio's Performance Today and on Robert Sherman's Young Artists Showcase program in New York. In March 2000, the Starling Chamber Orchestra's first educational video, Classical Quest, was distributed free to an initial audience of 600 public school music districts in Ohio. The program aired on 32 public television stations nationwide and earned numerous awards including those from the Worldfest Houston International Film Festival and the Telly Awards 2000. The video also won a regional Emmy award for Outstanding Arts and Culture Programming.