Hailed as “the greatest trumpeter on earth” by the Times, Swedish trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger is truly in a class of his own. He is known as much for his command of the classical repertoire written for trumpet as for the numerous contemporary composers whose works he has premiered.
Hardenberger was born in Malmö and began studying with trumpeter Bo Nilsson at the age of eight, eventually continuing his studies at the Paris Conservatoire under Pierre Thibaud. His remarkable level of virtuosity and range of expression on the trumpet, an uncommonly difficult instrument, allowed him to instantly stand out from many of his contemporaries, and led Erica Miner from Broadway World to claim, "If Wagner pushed the limits of 19th century tonality, Hardenberger pushes the limits of 21st century trumpet playing." In particular Hardenberger began to catch the attention of many composers interested in writing for the instrument.
The list of people who have written for Hardenberger is a veritable who’s who of many of the finest composers from the past 50 years. He has worked very closely with Hans Werner Henze,Arvo Pärt and György Ligeti, and played many pieces byMark-Anthony Turnage including on the CD Turnage: From the Wreckage – Speranza with Daniel Harding leading the London Symphony Orchestra, and premiering Turnage’s second trumpet concerto, which was written for Hardenberger and namedHåkan in his honor. Numerous other composers have written trumpet concertos specifically for Hardenberger, including fellow Swedes Rolf Martinsson, Daniel Börtz and Jan Sandström. In 1999 he premiered Austrian composer Heinz Karl Gruber’s trumpet concertoAerial with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Neeme Järvi at the London Proms. The concert received rave reviews and Hardenberger would go on to perform the piece more than 60 times.Aerial was the beginning of a long and fruitful collaboration between trumpeter and composer, and Hardenberger would premier more of Gruber’s works over the years, including the solo pieceExposed Throat (2000) and Three MOB Pieces (2004), both of which he recorded at different times on the Swedish BIS label, with the latter featuring the Swedish Chamber Orchestra.
Harbenberger has played with many of the world’s top orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Wiener Philharmoniker, Swedish Radio Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic. His musical endeavors are not limited to soloing in front of an orchestra however: he frequently tours in duo formats with organist Jonathan Scott, pianist Roland Pöntinen and percussionist Colin Currie, and has even tried his hand at conducting recently, leading orchestras all over Europe including the BBC Philharmonic, the Dresden Philharmonic and the Malmö Symphony.
Hardenberger’s extensive discography includes dozens of recordings in styles ranging from baroque to contemporary, with a particular focus on composers from the United Kingdom as well as his native Sweden. His most recent release saw Hardenberger team up with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields to release a solo CD including new arrangements of songs from popular and film music. The result of this collaboration,Both Sides, Now (2012) was released on the BIS label and serves as a testament to Hardenberger’s ever-widening musical horizons as well as showcasing his beautifully refined sound.
Header image: courtesy of Philharmonia Other images: courtesy of hakanhardenberger.com