Diemut Poppen, Principal Viola

Diemut Poppen was a principal violist for 15 years, a founding member and for 7 years on the committee of the COE. Today she lives in Switzerland and works as a soloist, chamber musician, festival director and professor in four renowned International music universities.

“The COE is one of the best things I did in my life. I remember the incredible wave of enthusiasm for the music and for building this orchestra carried us through difficult times in the beginning. It gave us strength. In the first years we were not worrying about personal sacrifices, long unpaid rehearsals, difficult travels, sleeping on the floor etc. We were driven by the idea that the COE should become one of the best orchestras in the world. (And it did !)
The magic of the music and the shared joy of fulfillment in the concerts was uplifting. I particularly remember a simple but beautiful Mozart D major Divertimento with James Judd in St.Giles, Edinburgh: The sun was shining through the painted glass windows on us musicians and I thought: this is exactly what I want to do.
And then we were ready for Claudio Abbado to conduct the COE and my personal musical journey with him began, which lasted 36 years, until his death 10 years ago.
I am very grateful for all the beautiful concerts and inspiring moments COE gave me. The laughter of Jessye Norman at our first public presentation at Merchant Taylors’ hall is still in my ears.”


Diemut Poppen is one of the most outstanding violists of her generation. Born into a well-known musical family in Germany she started playing the violin at the age of seven, giving her first concerts as a soloist at the age of nine. She learned several instruments of which the viola became her favorite.

Diemut Poppen studied in Düsseldorf, Aachen, Cologne, Berlin, Bloomington (USA) and Paris. Amongst her teachers were the finest violists of our time: Y.Bashmet, K.Kashkashian, B.Giuranna, H.Schlichtig, P.Schidlof from the Amadeus-Quartet.

Nowadays, Diemut Poppen is one of the most sought after violists, playing concerts worldwide. As a soloist and chamber musician she has appeared in the most important music centres around the world. In London she appeared as a soloist at the Barbican Centre, the Queen Elisabeth Hall and she gave chamber concerts, amongst others, at the Wigmore Hall. Well-known musicians have invited Diemut Poppen to participate in their festivals – amongst others – C.Abbado, A.Schiff, G.Kremer, T.Mork, L.Kavakos, N.Gutman, A.Chaushian.

Diemut Poppen performed as a soloist under the baton of conductors such as Heinz Holliger, Frans Brüggen and Claudio Abbado (Carnegie Hall, New York). She has been awarded the European Music Prize. She is currently Professor for Viola and Chamber Music in Detmold, in Madrid, at the Escuela de Musica Reina Sofia and at Zürcher Hochschule der Künste. She was Artistic Director of several chamber music festivals, currently of Cantabile Festival Lisboa and Rigi Musiktage/Switzerland.

Diemut Poppen was co-principal in Lucerne Festival Orchestra under the direction of Claudio Abbado and principal viola and a founding member of The Chamber Orchestra of Europe.

Poppen’s repertory is exceptionally wide. It spans from the classical viola concertos to all combinations of chamber music as well as contemporary music. Several composers have written new pieces for her, solo as well as concertos, sonatas and chamber music. Diemut Poppen has recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, Capriccio, Live classics, EMI, Tudor, Ondine, amongst others. This season includes concerts in Germany,Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Israel, Russia, Armenia, the UK and USA.

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