David Garrett’s father sues publisher over ‘pressurised’ biography

David Garrett’s father sues publisher over ‘pressurised’ biography


norman lebrecht

November 06, 2013

Georg Paul Bongartz, father of the German-American violinist, has sought a court injunction against the publication of a biography of his son in which he claims he was made to practise the instrument eight hours a day as a child. Bongartz maintains the boy never had to practise more than four hours.

David Garrett, who took his mother’s maiden name, is described on his website as ‘the David Beckham of the violin’.

Will Beckham sue?



  • “David Beckham of the violin”. Well they both know how to score.

  • Perez says:

    Ah, and this “controversy” comes right at the moment David Garrett stars in a movie as Paganini… very humble of him.

  • Alberto Martinez says:

    the “will beckham sue ” bit is hilarious hahaa

  • The film is absolutely dreadful – saw it last week in Munich. But also, why is a nice looking long haired young man who has a talent for playing the violin a) believe the hype that he is a world class virtuoso, and b) think that he can act? Yes he can play well, but another Paganini? Give me breath! Makes me cringe with with embarrassment when he appears on the telly here in Germany with major orchestras, making a pretty ordinary meal of the standard violin concerto repertoire and showing exactly why he should not (cannot) really be considered a major world star, but rather (only) just a nice looking, good natured & hard working local violin playing lad.

    • Simon says:

      Indeed, David Beckham used to be a highly talented football (soccer, for our American friends) player, who, in the words of Alex Ferguson, “chose to be famous”. He became famous for being famous, with football playing only a minor role in his ife and fame – and him playing only a minor role in football.

      So, yes, David Gerrett might indeed be the David Beckham of the violin.

    • Perez says:

      That’s what cheap marketing is all about: tell others what they should think and someday they’ll believe it. His team promotes him constantly as a world class virtuoso (even if he doesn’t have a single reputable recording of any major violin concerto, even his early recordings for Deutsche Grammophon are neglectable).

      His PR team promotes him as a world class virtuoso, he’s getting bookings, so it’s unlikely he’ll change any of it as long as it keeps making him money. Regarding the acting, when he went to NY to study he was also doing some work as a model, so you know… the usual student mind when living in NY/Los Angeles, musician, actor, dancer, masseur… you name it.

  • Judy V. says:

    Yes, all may be true. But he is making bucket loads of money. So…. I would say possibly to get off of his back. For a musician today to make a good to great living, you need the X factor .

    If Andre can do it so can others. Just my humble opinion as an older dedicated musician.

    And don’t forget that parents tell their kids NOT to go into music because there is no money in it.


  • Mark Mortimer says:

    I remember a British TV documentary about David Garrett around 20 years ago. I think it was Abbado who spotted him as a child prodigy and gave him lots of opportunities.

    He was an angelic looking boy who played like an angel and spoke with an impeccable mid-atlantic accent, conversing in a very mature manner for someone his age.

    He’s now in his thirties, the ‘David Beckham of the violin'(whatever that means) and has gone totally pop- to no doubt earn tonnes more cash, which he wouldn’t as a more strait-laced touring virtuoso.

    He probably still plays wonderfully, but its strange what the Classical music industry does to promising young performers and how it ultimately corrupts so many of them.

  • Cara says:

    Well then… Seems all if this constant criticism toward Mr. Garrett is just plain envy. He is popular and the purists are furious that he has stepped outside the box to portray his inspiration. SHAME on those who repeatedly discredit him. He is simply doing what he loves most. As for Mr. Bongartz, out of respect for David, I’ll hold my comments.

    • Perez says:

      Commercial success does not equal virtuosity. Unless you’re another one who also thinks Andre Rieu is a virtuoso… oh well.

  • How much, how often has this half-American musician appeared in the US? I’ve barely heard of him!

  • Stephen says:

    Never heard of him, until now.

  • Zinnia Radhy says:

    Well, When I read what is written above, I really have a pretty good laugh, So thank you!! It’s clear that there is a huge amount of ”ENVY and IRRITATED GUT”, How funny!!.

    First of all: I never recall, even for once, that David Garrett has ever called himself David Beckham of the violin!!! It’s always been the media who does this job!!! As a British myself, I always remember that it was our British media and press who first and util now who maintain calling David Garrett as David Beckham of the violin, And that’s for the amount of pride we feel for David Garrett!!! So BIG SHAME on You to twist it in such ”Rather Funny” way!!! Then if David website ”Describe” him as David Beckham, Then I guess the pride they feel in calling him so, comes from our British pride, and we are so happy with that.

    Second: Let those who criticize David and trying to underestimate his pure genuine talent, Let them even be able to do what ”They think” of his bad music, before they try to talk about his genuine talent!!! I think that is fair enough!! 😉

    And Finally, From a ”Freedom of Speech” prospective, I can say: ”I don’t think what you are trying to do here can even harm ”The Least”.

    Thank You.

    • Donna says:

      Bravo Zinnia Radhy!!!! Could not agree with you more. And as for the United States, I can assure we are plenty who have heard of David Garrett and LOVE his music and the beauty and style of which he plays, and it never hurts to have “eye candy” when watching someone perform!! As for the movie…well, because I am a HUGE David Garrett fan..HE CAN DO NO WRONG!!! Thank you Zinnia. Looking forward to his performance in March 2014 in Chicago!!! Donna

    • helen shapiro says:

      first of all there is so much annoying music out there – it’s so refreshing that people of all ages are being exposed to the beautiful music David Garrett is fostering . I in Canada only discovered him few years ago on PBS. And I now have such an appreciation of the classical music – so he has singled handedly done this – if you are not a fan – you can go watch and listen to another musician. Please don’t be rude.

  • Mary says:

    Please people before you leave a negative comment, at least do a bit of research so you don’t SOUND as ignorant as you obviously are. If you don’t like someone’s music you are entitled to your opinion but don’t bore us with general ignorance.

    David Garrett is regarded by most in the Classical world as a genius. His teachers who included Stern, Hendle and Pearlman all saw his potential early on or they wouldn’t have wasted their time. Menuhin is quoted on record as saying he would be the greatest violinist of his generation. As for doing no classical music of note, l can only presume you consider Mendelsson, Brahms, Beethoven, Kreisler and Bach as dilettantes too!! Considering Mr. Garrett has performed their work.

    His work as a model was to pay for his tuition at Juilliard which his parents refused to do. His work in the pop gendre simple shows off how versatile an instrument the violin is. Much like the the work his hero Paganini did (now there’s a man who knew how to cash in)! Mr. Garrett has repeatedly exalted Paganini in his recent interviews and been embarrassed by anyone suggesting a comparison even though the former was on record as being able to play 12 notes a second whilst Garrett can play 13.

    His “pop” gets a younger generation interested in his classical work and lord knows IT needs a new audience.

    So by all means express your dislike of his music but don’t doubt his talent and remember the greatest crowd pleaser of them all, who only ever worked for money up front, who dressed in the latest fashions and who sought patronage from the rich and royalty. A man who really knew how and when to use his work was non other than William Shakespeare.

    Some of you might know him. He wrote some plays.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      “Mr. Garrett has repeatedly exalted Paganini in his recent interviews and been embarrassed by anyone suggesting a comparison even though the former was on record as being able to play 12 notes a second whilst Garrett can play 13.”

      Oh, wow, I didn’t know that! Perlman can only play 12.3 notes per second, while Oistrakh clocked in at 12.5. So at 13 notes per second, that clearly means that David Garrett is the greatest violin player of all time!

      How many letters per second could that Shakespeare fellow write? As many as Michael Crichton?

      • carolina torbet says:

        re shakespeare, he only had grammar school education so i think he was a front man for a great writer, not himself.

    • mm says:

      YAY Mary – entirely fab comments

  • Michael Schaffer says:

    Mila is obviously an expert, especially when it comes to the music of Jonas Brahm.

  • Phyllis Weiss says:

    Not surprising that jealous people would make unkind comments concerning David Garrett. As a retired art and music educator, what he is doing to bring back great music to our culture is wonderful. The organized noise I now hear on every station and they call it music,

    has to run it’s course and then there is the great music like David gives us. Art and music is unfortunately reflected in our culture, so what does that say about our western culture. Pretty scary.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      I wonder what it says about our “western culture” that some people think David Garrett has “brought back great music to out culture”. What great music that was lost has he brought back to us?

      I don’t think most if any of the negative comments above have anything to do with people being “jealous” of him. I am not the jealous type, but if I was, I could think of many people who I would be jealous of before David Garrett. If I wanted to be a violinist, I could think of a lot of violinists who I would envy for their playing abilities before I would get to DG. If I just wanted fame and fortune, I could think of a lot of rich and famous people who I would envy before DG.

      I think he is a rather sad figure because he pretends to be this individualist who does whatever he feels like doing without respecting “classical” conventions, but in reality, he is a very conventional figure crafted by marketing advisers to appeal to the lowest common denominator mainstream.

  • Mary says:

    Much though l hate to grant the troll his dinner. Comparing Shakespeare to Michael Crichton shows his obvious taste even though l get his simile. I reiterate not a question of taste but knowledge. At least be a educated troll. If you think DG is crafted by good marketing l suggest you sharpen your reading skills and learn more before passing judgement. If you think you have already done this and are commenting as an informed individual then l bough down to your superior knowledge as one of those well rounded know it alls. I do concurr however that l agree you are not jealous. An ass is not jealous of a thoroughbred as it does not know it’s just an ass.

  • Rina says:

    To all the so-called ‘critics’ out there – The Devil’s Violin was made by music lovers, for music lovers … Mr Garrett is not an actor … (his words) … He is an artist, a musician – a great musician who loves music … Yes, Brad Pitt might be a better actor, but as the movie is mostly about Paganini playing the violin this would have compromised the whole project, as Mr Pitt can’t play sh*t … If you don’t love music, don’t like listening to good music, don’t like the history of music, stay away! I think Mr Garrett was couragous and wise to do this project – as he is with his cross-over concerts – it all contributes to whetting the younger generation’s appetite to listen to classical music – and in particular the violin. And it’s working – look who’s attending his concerts these days – teenagers! Bravo, Mr Garrett!

  • Nicole Luana says:

    A troll he is for sure!