Henja - profile

Henja Semmler

1st violin


When and where was your first concert with the MCO? 1997 in Landshut.

Can you tell us something about your instrument? My first violin was the most longed-for Christmas present of my life!

What is the most difficult aspect of your job? There’s always something that could be better, always more to discover, you always have to (you get to!) learn more... Sometimes that’s hard, but it’s also an answer to the next question!

What is the best thing about being a musician? See the previous question. Also, it’s the joy of forgetting myself and the world, while at the same time noticing everything that I experience while making music with the utmost intensity.

What do you do before a performance? Ideally I take a half-hour nap. Under all circumstances I eat well!


Henja Semmler, born in 1979, is a founding member of both the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA. Her teachers have included Rainer Kussmaul, Thomas Brandis and Gerhard Schulz, and her musical education was supported by grants from the German National Merit Foundation (Studienstiftung), the DAAD and the German Musical Instrument Fund. 

She has won prizes at the L. Spohr Competition, the German Music Competition (Deutscher Musikwettbewerb), the Competition of German Conservatories (Wettbewerb der deutschen Musikhochschulen) and at the Franco Gulli International Prize for Young Chamber Ensembles. 

As a soloist and in chamber ensembles with such performers as Kolja Blacher, Renaud Capuçon, Tabea Zimmermann, Natalia Gutman and Jörg Widmann, Henja Semmler has appeared at the Berliner Festwochen, the Rheingau Music Festival, Heidelberger Frühling, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, and Young Artists in Concert Davos. She gave her debut at the Berlin Philharmonic at age 17, and has soloed with the Staatskapelle Weimar, the World Youth Orchestra, and the Davos Festival Orchestra.

In 2006 Henja became a founding member of the Oberon Trio, with whom she has performed at venues such as the Wiener Konzerthaus and Laeiszhalle Hamburg, and with whom she has toured various countries. The Oberon Trio released its second CD in 2016 and will be performing with violist Tabea Zimmermann, tenor Ian Bostridge and lyric tenor Christoph Prégardien in the 2017-18 season.

Henja is also dedicated to the baroque violin and viola. Her regular collaboration with contemporary composers has led to her participation in many world premieres.

As a guest concertmaster, Henja has been invited to lead the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Münchner Kammerorchester, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Kammerakademie Potsdam, Ensemble Resonanz and Deutsche Radiophilharmonie Saarbrücken. 

Henja has taught in countries including Germany, Italy, Spain and Ukraine. She is teaching her own violin class at the Rostock University of Music, and has been appointed professor of violin at the Musik und Kunst Privatuniversität of Vienna, starting in 2018.