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The roots of the Hagen Quartet go back to the 1970s, when the four children of Salzburg-based violist Oskar Hagen formed an ensemble and undertook professional studies at the Mozarteum. They were officially founded in the summer of 1981 when Gidon Kremer invited the young quartet—at the time cellist Clemens Hagen was only 15—to his chamber music festival in Lockenhaus; they immediately caused a sensation. The ensemble garnered numerous competition awards in the years following, including at the Portsmouth, Évian, Bordeaux, and Banff Competitions, and of course invitations to appear at major festivals and in leading concert halls around the world. Since 1987 the Hagen Quartet has been playing in its current lineup, with Lukas Hagen as first violin, Rainer Schmidt as second violin, Veronika Hagen on viola, and Clemens Hagen on cello. The ensemble performs a wide repertoire encompassing the complete history of the genre, from works by Haydn to Kurtág. The Hagens additionally cultivate an active connection with contemporary composers: for example, they recently gave the world premiere of the String Quartet No. 6 by Georg Friedrich Haas at the International Mozart Week 2011. Their collaboration with such artistic figures as Nikolaus Harnoncourt and György Kurtág proved to be of central importance for the Hagen Quartet; important partners with whom they have appeared jointly in concert include Maurizio Pollini, Mitsuko Uchida, Krystian Zimerman, Heinrich Schiff, and Jörg Widmann. The Quartet’s artistic work is documented on some 45 CDs, the most recent of which is a recording of works by Beethoven, Mozart, and Webern that was released in February 2011. The four musicians also share their experiences with the younger generation by teaching at the Salzburg Mozarteum and at the Basel University of Music and by giving international master classes.
LUCERNE FESTIVAL (IMF) debut on 23 August 1980 in quartets by Joseph Haydn, Antónin Dvořák, and Graz˙yna Bacewicz.