Žiga Brank is a violinist and violin professor at the Ljubljana Music and Ballet Conservatory. Since 2015, he has also a teaching position at the Ljubljana Academy of Music. He previously held the position of concertmaster of the Symphonic Orchestra of the Slovene National Theatre (SNG) Maribor and was member of the Slovenian Philharmonic, as well as performing occasionally with the RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra and the Zagreb Soloists.
In recent years, Brank has been actively involved in music recording, as evidenced by the extensive collection of exquisite recordings that he has made for the RTV Slovenia archives. His compact disc featuring six sonatas for solo violin by E. Ysaÿe was released in 2013 by the label ZKP RTV Slovenia, and was received with excellent reviews both in Slovenia and abroad. He also recorded F. Busoni’s rarely performed Violin Concerto with the RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra. His first compact disc with pianist Dunja Robotti, featuring works by Mozart, Beethoven and Ernst, was released by ZKP RTV Slovenia in 2010, and in 2015 he recorded Paganini’s 24 Caprices for solo violin, Op. 1 for the same record label.
As a soloist, Brank has performed numerous recitals, impressing audiences all over Europe (Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium and Ireland). Many of his performances have been recorded and some have been broadcast live on radio. Numerous critics regard his playing as technically brilliant, also emphasising his refined feeling for interpretation and his convincing conveyance of the music to listeners.
Brank has performed a great deal as a soloist with orchestras, appearing at the subscription series of the RTV Slovenian Symphony Orchestra and at numerous important concert venues. His performance with the Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra of Košice (Bruch’s Violin Concerto) in 2015 attracted particular attention. In 2011, he also gave the Israeli premiere of a work for violin and orchestra by Israeli composer T. Akta. Brank’s playing has inspired a number of composers, who have dedicated works to him.
Brank began his music studies in Ljubljana under the tutorship of M. Kosi. He continued his studies with Prof. C. Hutcap at the Rostock College of Music and Theatre, and then with prof. J. Rissin at the Karlsruhe College of Music. While studying, he won many prestigious awards. He was the first recipient of the Škerjanc Award and won the Slovenian state competition TEMSIG on a number of occasions. He also won second prize in the “Jugend Musiziert” music competition in Germany, and for one year was awarded the use of a F. Ruggieri violin dating from 1680, preserved in the Baden-Württemberg state collection. He subsequently furthered his studies at masterclasses with world famous teachers such as Z. Bron, I. Ozim, M. Yashvili, and G. Zhislin.
Around 1810, a new era commenced in the history of violin performance. It was then that Italian virtuoso Niccolò Paganini, born 27 October 1782 in Genoa, commenced his celebrated and dazzling career. He soon gained the nickname “the devil’s violinist”, as he set new standards for violin perfor- mance, a fact that was noted by the German Romantic composer Robert Schumann. No one before him had succeeded in developing bowing and nger technique to such an extent that it was possible to perform stunning arrangements of opera excerpts on this string instrument, as well as extraordinarily di cult passages and other technical “devilry”. In this respect, Paganini was unsurpassable!
Sonata no. 6, which is perhaps the most challenging technically, is dedicated to the noted Spanish violinist Emanuel Quiroga, whose violin playing reminded many of his contemporaries, including Ysaÿe, of that of Pablo de Sarasate. According to certain records, Ysaÿe adapted the violinist-technical and expressive elements in this sonata to the artist to whom it is dedicated more than he did in the other sonatas. However, the sonata was never publicly performed by Quiroga. The one-movement sonata completes the large cycle of masterpieces, which open up new paths and dimensions for the violin.