Isabelle  - profile

Isabelle Briner

1st violin


If you could play another instrument what would it be? Instead of singing through the violin I would sing with my voice.

The first piece of music you fell in love with: Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen by Gustav Mahler (sung by Kathleen Ferrier!).

What would you do if you weren’t a musician? The same! But without playing professionally. I would live my creativity in all ways.

How do you spend your free time? Collecting impressions and memories to fit into a (visual) common sense... and then I share them with others.

The most inspiring composer: Gustav Mahler.


Isabelle Briner was born in Lucerne, Switzerland, in 1975. She joined the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra when she was still a student in Switzerland and the US, setting the stage for her professional career. Appearances as a soloist and chamber musician followed at numerous venues across Europe: the Lucerne Festival, the Stiftung für junge Musiktalente Meggen, Young Artists in Concert Davos, Berliner Festwochen, Heidelberger Frühling, Albert Konzerte Freiburg, Festival International d’Art Lyrique Aix en Provence, Gustav Mahler Festwochen Toblach, and the Musikfestival Mecklenburg Vorpommern.

In 1998 she joined the newly founded Mahler Chamber Orchestra led by Claudio Abbado and has since performed with the group at renowned music festivals all over the world. She has played with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra since its founding in 2003, collaborating on numerous award-winning recordings including the DVD set of the complete Mahler Symphonies.

Never losing sight of her love of chamber music, Isabelle Briner also appears regularly with her sister, pianist Sibylle Briner, and additionally formed a duo with violinist Henja Semmler from 1999 to 2004. They were honored together in 2004 with the Premio Internazionale Franco Gulli. In the same year the Europäische Kulturstiftung bestowed on Isabelle its advancement prize for nurturing great artistic talent and outstanding achievement.

With Cellist Eva Zahn, Isabelle founded a variable chamber music ensemble that ranges from piano trio to quintet.

Her curiosity and openness to new things has led the violinist into the realms of photography, music pedagogy, and tango – and to the ensemble Luz de Tango. A highlight among her performances was the Tango Evening at the Kleintheater Luzern, which took place under the auspices of the Switzerland-wide Tag des Tanzes (day of dance). On the occasion of the Mahler centennial celebrations in 2010/2011, Isabelle Briner showed her photographs in an art exhibit in Ferrara (Italy) and Lucerne, titled Gustav Mahler Perspectives. Insights – musically-inspired sketches in pictures.

Since 2007 Isabelle has also been a regular guest on Radio SRF 2 Kultur in Switzerland, as a music expert on the show Diskothek im 2.