Nils Mönkemeyer has emerged as one of the leading young violists of the 2010s in his native Germany, earning a contract with the large Sony Classical label that has brought him wide exposure and strong album sales.
The son of guitarist Thomas Brendgens-Mönkemeyer, Nils Mönkemeyer was born in Bremen in 1978. He studied at the Hochschule für Künste in Bremen, majoring in violin at first, but switching to viola in 1997 after finding that he enjoyed his chamber music classes the most. Mönkemeyer has continued to specialize in chamber music as a touring player, participating in three separate groups: a trio with Sabine Meyer and William Youn, the Julia Fischer Quartet, and a viola-and-piano duo with Youn. At the Musikhochschule Hannover he studied viola with Christian Pohl, and he rounded out his education with stints at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich and at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, where he worked with Veronika Hagen. He plays a 1742 Giuseppe Cavaleri instrument owned by the state of Rheinland-Pfalz. Mönkemeyer has been a professor of viola in Munich since 2011.
Signed to Sony Classical, Mönkemeyer released Ohne Worte (Without Words), an album of songs by Schubert, Schumann, and Mendelssohn performed on the viola, without a singer. He has continued to release innovative but accessible albums, and most have landed on German classical sales charts and sometimes on foreign ones. They have included the 2013 double album Bach und Mehr (Bach and More), which paired Bach's Suites for Solo Cello with contemporary Bach-influenced compositions in a two-disc set. Mönkemeyer has also recorded for the German label CPO, which specializes in lesser-known repertory; for that label he recorded the viola concerto of Wilhelm Georg Berger with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin under Horia Andreescu.