Piano Duo Friederike Haufe Volker Ahmels

Worldwide research and ”discovery” of composers (and of their works) who were hindered by the Nazi-Regime in exercising their artistic profession, who were driven into exile or were deported and murdered in extermination camps, are some of the main topics in the lives of both these artists.

Their first meeting in 1998 in Israel, with pianist Edith Kraus gave rise to their intense preoccupation with “Ostracized Music”, until then a largely unknown theme.

Edith Kraus had been the youngest student in Arthur Schnabel’s Berlin Masterclass, after which she began a promising career in Prague. In 1943 she was deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp, where she was one of the most prominent musicians.

Right up to Edith Kraus’ death in 2013, Friederike Haufe and Volker Ahmels stayed in regular touch with her.

Piano duo Friederike Haufe and Volker Ahmels recorded their first CD for Medien Kontor Hamburg in 2006, with Franz Schubert’s famous F minor Fantasy, Franz Liszt’s symphonic poem “Les Préludes” in the rarely played version by the composer himself, for four hands, as well as the piano waltzes for four hands “devised” by Wolfgang Rihm.

In 2012 a CD titled “Der Ochse auf dem Dach und andere Verbote” (The Ox on the Roof and further banned music) featuring works by Darius Milhaud, Hans Gál, Arnold Schönberg, Leo Smit, Erwin Schulhoff and Ernst Toch was published in Vienna by Gramola.

To introduce young students to the world of Piano Music, the Arts of the 20th century and to Ostracized Music the Piano Duo developed the federal school project “taste for school®”.

As from 2016 the piano duo began promoting the publication and the renewed performance of works by Hamburg born composer Ingolf Dahl, who had been forced to emigrate to Los Angeles because of his Jewish roots. They found Dahl’s piano manuscripts for four hands amongst his estate at the USC archives.

In 2017 Medien Kontor Hamburg in co-operation with the Centre for Ostracized Music at the Rostock College for Music and Theatre published these works as a scientific first edition of Dahl’s complete piano music for four hands. The première of Dahl’s “Four Intervals” can be heard played by Friederike Haufe and Volker Ahmels on the CD called “Ingolf Dahl Intervals” that was published by the same co-operation.

Due to the COVID-19-pandemic they produced the Film Concert “Serenade meets Blues” in May 2020. Honoring Ingolf Dahl who died 50 years ago the Film Concert combined documentaric elements with recitation and chamber music. 

As early as 2014, the piano works for four hands by Dutch composer Dick Kattenburg have been forming part of their concert repertoire. They performed them several times in Hamburg and Amsterdam, but also in Los Angeles and Vienna. During the international Festival Verfemte Musik (Festival for Ostracized Music) in Schwerin, they played the world première of Dick Kattenburg’s 1938 Ouverture for two pianos op.3 No1. In 2021, the piece among others has been recorded on CD for the first time. At the same time Donemus Amsterdam published the reviewed edition of all scores for this combination, edited by Friederike Haufe and Volker Ahmels.

They met at a young age whilst studying the piano with Bernard Wambach. Internationally renowned for his interpretations of contemporary music, this pianist and later professor at the Folkwang Arts Academy in Essen, inspired a deep and lasting interest in 20th Century music in both young pianists.

In 1996 they joined forces to form a piano duo for their first international appearance in Israel and the autonomous Palestinian territories.  In both parts of Jerusalem, in Tel Aviv and Haifa, as well as in Bethlehem and Ramallah they gave performances of piano works for four hands of the classic and romantic periods. Later they also included works for two pianos in their repertoire, such as Mozart’s complete opus for this combination and Bach’s piano concerto in C major BWV 1061, that they performed at the Schwerin Theatre with the Chamber Orchestra of the Mecklenburgische Staatskapelle.

They appeared at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, at the Musiksommer Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, at the International Piano Duo Festival Bad Herrenalb, several times at the Klavierfest Ammersee as well as the “Tons Voisins” Festival in Albi. Concert tours furthermore took them to France (Paris, Marseille), Austria (Vienna), Denmark (Odense), Spain (Tenerife), Poland (Pila), to the Czech Republic (Prague and Terezin), the Netherlands (Amsterdam) and on a regular basis to the USA (several times to both Los Angeles and Philadelphia, but also to Cleveland, San Diego and Washington). 

In 2019, Friederike Haufe was nominated to be honorary chairperson for the Deutsche Tonkünstlerverband (DTKV) in Hamburg. In 2009, she founded Artist Coaching in Hamburg offering a coaching program especially for creative professionals and artists. 

In 2018 Volker Ahmels was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit by Germany’s President, for his contribution to the cause of ostracized music as Managing Director of the “Zentrum Verfemte Musik” at the Rostock College of Music and Theatre as well as Festival Director of the International Competition and Festival for Ostracized Music Schwerin.