Christian Tetzlaff was born in Hamburg, Germany, on April 29, 1966. Having shown talent on both piano and violin in his childhood, he eventually chose the latter instrument, and by his early teens was an accomplished violinist. His official debut at 14 in the Beethoven
violin concerto was a notable success. He later studied at the Musikhochschule Lübeck with Uwe-Martin Haiberg and at the Cincinnati University College-Conservatory of Music with Walter Levine.
From about 1989 he began to draw international notice: his Schoenberg
violin concerto performance with the Cleveland Orchestra
that year was widely hailed, and in Europe he was beginning to make regular appearances in Paris, Cologne, London, and other major venues. Tetzlaff's New York City recital debut in 1993 at the 92nd Street Y in a program of J.S. Bach
, and Bartók
, was highly praised in The New York Times. That same year Tetzlaff's first recording of the six Bach
solo sonatas and partitas on Virgin Classics
drew rave reviews and is still considered a benchmark recording in that repertory.