How star violinist David Garrett earned his first million

Star violinist David Garrett
Star violinist David Garrettdpa

David Garrett, 38, born in Aachen as David Christian Bongartz, got his first record contract at the age of twelve. He is one of the best violinists of his generation and became world famous for his combination of electric and underground music. With his greatest hits album “Unlimited” he is going on tour in 2019. Mr. Garrett, you started playing the violin at the age of four, and you practiced up to eight hours a day as a child. Your strict upbringing and tense relationship with your parents are well known. Have you cursed your instrument many times?

DAVID GARRETT: I always liked to play, but practicing is hard. There were regular disagreements with my parents. I got private lessons and had so much less contact with children of the same age.

You played your first concerts when you were five years old. What motivated you to do this?

My parents are very classical-loving: my mother is a ballet dancer, my father has an auction house for string instruments. When my older brother got a violin at the age of six, I emulated him and always practiced it when he wasn’t playing.

Did you have other dream jobs?

My path was very clear from the start. I worked with very good teachers and famous musicians early on who advised me to play the violin because I have an amazing talent for it. As a child, I felt the responsibility to do the job. I wasn’t always comfortable with that either.

When you were 18, you moved to New York – or fled?

The decision was groundbreaking. In the first 18 years playing the violin was more of a duty, in New York I found that I really wanted to do it. It was also important to learn to be able to make more independent decisions about my life.

Were you financially independent?

My parents were not enthusiastic about the move, so I financed my studies in New York myself with part-time jobs. In the four years I had to turn every penny ten times. This is how I learned to appreciate the value of money. If I buy something today, it will be cherished and not taken for granted.

Initially, no record company was convinced of their cross-genre crossover style. Why did you insist?

The beginning was difficult. That has shaped me and will ground me for a lifetime. But what you build up over the years and pursue with passion usually leads to success.

When did you make the first million with your music?

In 2013 the tour operator organized a party in Frankfurt after we sold the millionth ticket. That was when I first realized how many people I had played live over the past five years.

You made millions. What do you invest in?

In instruments. I have acquired a great deal of specialist knowledge over the years. It was also a big dream that I could afford the first apartments.

You recently had a herniated disc and could hardly move your left hand. What does that mean for your career?

I was in terrible pain, had been doing physiotherapy for months, and hadn’t played at all. Through the break, I now feel great euphoria and energy again – which maybe faded a bit due to the pain.

The article comes from the print edition 01/2019 by

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