Frank Bungarten holds a special position amongst concert guitarists of today. On the one hand, through his artistic stance, he belongs to the ‘Old School’, loyal to original works and uncompromising in his search for truth in music. On the other hand, wide and sustained success has brought him recognition far beyond the confines of the ‘guitar world’.
Born in 1958, he decided to take up the guitar in the 1960s, influenced by the rock music of the time. Some of his first teachers, among them the Paraguayan virtuoso Carlos Baez, encouraged him at the age of seventeen, before he had finished high school, to enrol in a course of concert class studies at the Academy of Music in Cologne.
After several years of study under Prof. Karl Heinz-Böttner and Hubert Käppel and a master course in Italy with Oscar Ghiglia, he withdrew to mold the fundamentals of his current style - in his own way.
During the 1970s, he taught himself to play saxophone and founded the ‘free improvisation’ band “Extempore”. The group caused quite a stir with numerous festival performances, radio productions and with their first LP recorded on the influential avant-garde JazzHausMusik label.
Following a second place in the Bundeshochschulwettbewerb (Federal University Competition) in 1981, he entered the international scene with a bang in the same year: doyen Andrés Segovia honoured him with the first prize at the Guitar Competition of Granada, combined with an extensive concert tour of Spain.
Immediately following his studies (graduating with distinction), he commenced his career as a University lecturer and has been performing as a soloist in almost all countries throughout Europe and the Americas.
He has played on the most important stages in the German-speaking world, such as the Berlin Philhamonic, the Kunst and Kongresshaus Lucerne, the Gasteig Munich, the Salzburger Festival, the Schwetzinger Musikfestspiele, the Schleswig Holstein Festival, MDR Musiksommer, the Niedersächsische Musiktage and numerous guitar festivals from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia and from Dublin to Havana.
His ever changing concert programmes are documented by continuous radio productions and live recordings. He has performed chamber music with a wide range of partners from the “ensemble modern” to specialists of ‘old music’ such as lute player Stephen Stubbs. Additionally, he regularly plays all major concertos for guitar and orchestra as a soloist.
For almost two decades, he has made reference recordings with weighty concept repertoirs on the adiophile label Musikproduktion Dabringhaus & Grimm, including a comprehensive interpretation of Bach’s solo violin works - using his own transcriptions. The French audio magazine Diapason simply wrote, “What we hear is not guitar, not Bungarten it is Bach”.
In addition to steady recognition by the music press, his CDs were awarded the “Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik” (German music critics award) and the “Audio Reference” (Audio Reference Prize).
2005 Frank Bungarten was honoured with the “Echo Klassik” as “Instrumentalist of the Year” for his CD “Cancion y Danza”. Most recently, Frank Bungarten was awarded his second "Echo Klassik" as "Instrumentalist of the Year" for his CD "Heitor Villa-Lobos: Complete Works for Guitar".
At present he holds chair at the renowned University of Music, Drama and Media in Hanover. He resigned his second professorship at Lucerne Academy of Music (Switzerland) in 2010 in favour of his artistic activities. Frank Bungarten conducts regular masterclasses and seminars for an ever increasing number of students from all over the world.
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