Ragna Schirmer made her CD debut by presenting J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations in 2000, the 250th anniversary of Bach's death. The experts pricked up their ears, for the young pianist had performed the unexpected feat of interpreting in an accustomed but convincing manner a work whose reading seemed to have been established by Glenn Gould. She lovingly brings out the character of each variation and, fully in command, she takes the time she needs to do that. In that way she succeeds in carefully illuminating the polyphony and in bringing an unexpected emotionality to light. A diverse tableau of Baroque forms and idioms emerges until everything returns to the simplicity of the beginning with the repeat of the Aria at the end.
Much followed in the wake of that debut, and today Ragna Schirmer can look back on many lasting successes. She has so far recorded a widely varied repertoire on nine albums, all of which have been highly praised and several of which have won awards. Her most recent recording of the suites of George Frideric Handel has brought her a second "ECHO Klassik" award and, in involving herself with Bach's great contemporary, she has returned to the Baroque music of her first CD.
What more is there to know about Ragna Schirmer? She was born in Hildesheim and studied in Hanover and Paris. She won fifteen first prizes at national and international competitions, including two at the prestigious International Bach Competition in Leipzig. Her career then developed rapidly. She played with the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta, the Orchestre National de France in Paris under Kurt Masur, the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig under Herbert Blomstedt and made her debut at the Salzburg Festival with the Salzburg Camerata under Sir Roger Norrington in 2005. Ragna Schirmer has also given an enormous number of solo recitals at home and abroad. The breadth of her repertoire is astonishing, her special gift for the music of the Baroque and early Viennese Classical periods being matched by her virtuosity and supreme skill in performing the great Romantic and modern works.
In addition to her extensive concert activities, Ragna Schirmer takes education seriously. She held a professorship at the College of Music and Performing Arts in Mannheim from 2001 to 2009 and now she teaches the highly talented at the August Hermann Francke Special School of Music in Halle. Her cultural interest also extends in a quite different direction, for she works on the board of directors of the "Circle of friends of Luther", an association founded in 2009 which supports the restoration of the places connected with Luther in Saxony-Anhalt, with a view to the fifth centenary of the Reformation in 2017.