Susanne Zapf

violinist | performer

Susanne Zapf

violinist | performer

About me

Susanne Zapf

Susanne Zapf sees herself above all as a flexible artist: “I take every musical genre seriously and practise from the very old to the very new, and I love to perform. In my view, there is no contradiction between embracing the historical performance practice of Baroque and Classical periods, exploring free improvisation, participating in multi media projects and performing contemporary music.”

In her recent ‘violin-playing-body’ project (supported by the Uncool scholarship of the city of Poschiavo in 2017, and by a working scholarship from the Berlin Senate in 2018), she explored the physical relationship to her instrument, questioning how the body and the movements of the performer are connected to the music, and whether they can be considered separately from the music itself.

Her new solo programme „new senses“ deals with expectations, perceptions, (breaking with) habits, and with the sensations that arise from new impressions and feelings. It was created through commissions by Alwynne Pritchard and Ruth Wiesenfeld, with whom she has worked intensively.

Susanne founded the Sonar Quartett in 2006 and continued to influence its artistic development until her departure in 2023.
Next to her various chamber music projects she is also a member of  Kammerakademie Potsdam and plays regularly with the Sheridan Ensemble.

She has been teaching at the Berlin University of the Arts since 2021.


2./3. September 2023 – Potsdam – Kammerakademie Potsdam
20. September 2023 – Beethovenfest Bonn – Kammerakademie Potsdam
28. September 2023 – Potsdam – Kammerakademie Potsdam
15. October 2023 – Essen – Kammerakademie Potsdam
25. October 2023 – Potsdam – KAP modern Ensemble
27. October 2023 – Spandau – CUT_YOUR_HAIR
3. November 2023 – München – MKO
16./17. November 2023 – Berlin – Festival Klangwerkstatt with Duo Tocar
21.-26. November 2023 – Berlin – Lose Combo
2. December 2023 – München – MKO
9. December 2023 – Potsdam – Kammerakademie Potsdam
15. December 2023 – Potsdam – Kammerakademie Potsdam string quartet
20. December 2023 – Potsdam – Kammerakademie Potsdam kids concert
13. January 2024 – Potsdam – Kammerakademie Potsdam
28. January 2024 – Potsdam – Kammerakademie Potsdam
29. January 2024 – Berlin Philharmonie – Kammerakademie Potsdam
14. February 2024 – Potsdam – KAP modern Ensemble
22./23. February 2024 – Berlin Boulez Saal – Kammerakademie Potsdam
26. February 2024 – Potsdam – workshop about playing techniques in Contemporary Music
12.-14./21. April 2024 – Tour – Avi Avital – Kammerakademie Potsdam
4. May 2024 – Zepernick – Sheridan Ensemble
6. May 2024 – Philharmonie Köln – Ensemblekollektiv
8.May 2024 – Schwetzingen – Sheridan Ensemble
25./25. May 2024 – Mahalla Berlin – Sheridan Ensemble – Rundfunkchor Berlin
2. June 2024 – Potsdam – Kammerakademie Potsdam
26.-30. June 2024 – Malzfabrik Berlin – Lose Combo
14. July 2024 – Zepernick – Duo Tocar – Julia Spaeth
17. July 2024 – Bad Kissingen – Kammerakademie Potsdam
18. August 2024 – Potsdam – Kammerakademie Potsdam
31. August 2024 – Potsdam – Kammerakademie Potsdam
7. September 2024 – Brunnen (CH) – Duo Tocar – Julia Spaeth
19. September 2024 – Potsdam – Kammerakademie Potsdam string quartet


Solo program with new commissioned works by Alwynne Pritchard and Ruth Wiesenfeld

A very personal search for new forms of expression and for a new closeness to a work, which is caused by human and artistic engagement together with the respective composers. This music is no longer created through concepts, rules, traditions, but through the new approach towards seeing, hearing, and feeling.

The whole concert program deals with expectations, perceptions, (breaking with) habits and the sensitization of new impressions and feelings.

Gerhard Stäbler Messenger of Spring
Farzia Fallah und dann befreit
Anahita Abbasi Situation IV
Inigo Giner Miranda enlightened
Ruth Wiesenfeld Agaij
Alwynne Pritchard A violin remembers

LOSE COMBO Jörg Laue Idea/Concept

GREEN LINE is the third part of the project series performaps, which explores the possibilities of a time-based artistic cartography in hybrid forms of performance, concert and installation.

Based on the title-giving UN-controlled strip of land that divides the Mediterranean country of Cyprus into the Greek-speaking Republic of Cyprus in the south of the island and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, GREEN LINE addresses questions of inaccessibility and the arbitrariness of cartographic demarcations.

In an illustrated lecture, the two performers reconstruct the historical circumstances of a provisional crayon line on a city map, after which the buffer zone was not only named, but which actually became the almost uninhabited stretch of land that divides Cyprus. They fathom the multilingual nested etymology of the mines between mine, weapon and writing instrument, which touches on ancient Roman pitfalls, medieval diaries, mineral pigments and picturesque miniatures, but also the accidental invention of the first electronic musical instrument – the theremin. And with the help of wandering words, they return to the cultural epoch of the Bronze Age via the island’s copper mines.

Meanwhile, the duo Tocar realises Jörg Laue’s 72-minute sound-cartographic composition green line layers in interplay with a noisy-moving 6-channel tape, which was created from a series of archaeological, geological and political maps on the foil of the latest map of Cyprus by the United Nations peacekeeping forces in Cyprus.

Fire lines, volcanic rings, endemic plants, mountain formations, current and ancient mines and temples become graphic material for the musicians‘ multi-layered sound explorations along the Green Line – intersected only by two canonical compositions for violin and piano by Johann Sebastian Bach and George Crumb, in which connecting dualities are practised in an exemplary compositional manner.

Nadezda Tseluykina (piano) and Susanne Zapf (violin) came together at the beginning of 2018 and founded the Duo Tocar. 

With their playing, the artists want to inspire the audience for contemporary music and at the same time highlight the topicality of the works of the 18th-20th centuries. In bringing together new music with works of tradition, it is their concern, on the one hand, to make intellectual music emotionally experienceable, and on the other hand, to draw attention to the structure in emotional works. The audience is thus introduced to music of different epochs on several levels.

The Duo Tocar regularly commissions works for their ensemble and works in lively exchange with the composers.

A NeitherNor production
At his most skilled, a violinist’s technique is invisible. He becomes his instrument.

The freedom experienced by a virtuoso when in complete command of his technique, also renders invisible the innate demands imposed upon him. His presence on stage is as a violinist above all else. His body is subsumed by this definition. The relationship between distinct instrumental techniques, musical notation in its manpreference is a complex one, but nonetheless exists within a frame in which the violinist’s physical actions are highly refined, controlled and contained.

What music might emerge, then, if this relationship between body and instrument was called into question? If the difference between a violinist and his technique became more visible, expansive, volatile and expressive? What happens when music emerges not as the controlled end to which all movements aspire but as a repercussion of self-contained physical experiences and interactions?

And who does the virtuoso become when, in his quixotic aspiration for artistic expression, he must take for his bow wood from the trees?

“Finally they passed the night among some trees, from one of which Don Quixote plucked a dry branch to serve him after a fashion as a lance…”
– Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote de la Mancha
Commissioned by Susanne Zapf with funds from the Norsk komponistforening, with additional support from Bergen kommune, Fond for utøvende kunstnere, Music Norway, the Harry and Alice Eiler Foundation, BEK (Bergen Centre for Electronic Arts), Bergen Dansesenter and o espaço do tempo.

Yaniv Cohen (movement/performer/filming)
Alec Hall (violin/performer)
Guido Henneboehl (electronics)
Alwynne Pritchard (performer, concept, direction, choreography, video editing and sound)
Aline Sánchez (movement/performer)
Lisa Simpson (costumes)
Thorolf Thuestad (electronics, kinetics, sound and computing)
Susanne Zapf (violin/performer)



György Kurtág

Signs, Games and Messages
Hommage à J.S.B.

György Kurtág

Signs, Games and Messages
Hommage à John Cage

Ruth Wiesenfeld

AGAiJ (2022)
für Violine solo

Gerhard Stäbler

Messenger of Spring (2013)
für verstärkte Violine

Alwynne Pritchard

A violin remembers (2022)
für Violine solo UA

Iñigo Giner Miranda

enlightened (2013)
für Violine solo


George Crumb

Excerpt from „4 Nocturnes“ for violin and piano

Johannes Boris Borowski „Twin“

world premier „Twin“ Johannes Boris Borowski 2020

2016 No1

with Marcello Lussana, Rieko Okuda, Antoine Mermet

Walter Zimmermann

Die Sorge geht über den Fluß

Mimesis 2

Live Performance near Borgo Pace (Italy)


G. Ligeti – Horntrio 3. Movement


Susanne Zapf - Violinist Performer - Farbe 2
Susanne Zapf - Violinist Performer - Farbe 3
Susanne Zapf - Violinist Performer - Farbe 1
Susanne Zapf - Violinist Performer - SW 2
Susanne Zapf - Violinist Performer - SW 3
Susanne Zapf - Violinist Performer - Farbe 2

photo credits: @_Zuzanna_Specjal