• Born 1954
Often appears with
Cellist Julius Berger has focused many of his performing and recording efforts on the music of Luigi Boccherini. A noted educator and musicologist, he also performs a range of contemporary music.
Berger was born in 1954 in Augsburg, then in West Germany, and has spent much of his career there. He studied at the Musikhochschule München, working with Fritz Kiskalt and Walter Reichardt. Berger went on to the Mozarteum in Salzburg for studies with cellist and conductor Antonio Janigro, a pioneer in the rediscovery of late Baroque and early Classical-period works. From 1979 to 1982, he worked as Janigro's assistant. He took further lessons from cellist Zara Nelsova, then at the University of Cincinnati in the U.S., and finished his education in a master class conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich. In 1982, he joined the faculty at the Musikhochschule Würzburg, becoming one of the youngest professors in the German university system. In 1997, he married Hyun-Jung Sung, who had served as his teaching assistant. The pair has performed widely as the Berger Duo; they also have solo careers but restrict their touring schedule in order to devote time to family life. They have substantial recording careers, however. Berger joined the faculty at the Musikhochschule Augsburg in 2000. He directs several influential music festivals and conducts an annual master class at the Internationale Sommerakademie Mozarteum Salzburg.
Berger has focused much of his energy on recording and research. A recognized authority on the music of Luigi Boccherini, the first composer to write extensively for the cello, he has recorded many of that composer's works, including some that he had newly discovered. Berger has also recorded works by other composers of the late Baroque and early Classical periods, casting his net as far back as the music of Pietro degli Antonii and Domenico Gabrielli, the first composers to write for the cello. Berger has also recorded mainstream cello works by Brahms and Dvořák, and has championed contemporary works by the likes of Sofia Gubaidulina, John Cage, and Toshio Hosokawa, as well as releasing an album of tangos "von und für" Astor Piazzolla. Berger has recorded for a wide variety of labels, including Wergo, Hänssler, and Solo Musica. On the latter, he released a complete cycle of Beethoven's works for cello and piano in 2020, with pianist Margarethe Höhenrieder.