Viktor van Niekerk

viktor-van-niekerkViktor van Niekerk was born in 1981, in Johannesburg, and educated in South Africa and Australia. He is active as a musician, visual artist, researcher, writer and teacher.

By the age of twelve he publicly performed on 6-string guitar and Baroque mandolin such standards as Fernando Sor’s Variations op. 9 and the Vivaldi concertos. Since 1995 he has performed exclusively on the 10-string guitar. From 1996 to 2006 he studied the 10-string guitar with Fritz Buss, a favourite alumnus as well as teaching assistant of the legendary Narciso Yepes, innovator of the 10-string guitar. Adamant that there is much for guitarist to learn from the classical mainstream, he has supplemented his study of musical interpretation with various specialists, among others: Bruno Brys (conductor/pianist), Dr G. Florian Messner (composer/musicologist), harpsichordist John Reid Coulter, and pianists Pauline Nossel and Malcolm Nay.

He has performed in Australia, Asia and South Africa, including the National Arts Festival. As scholar, he has won numerous awards for academic excellence, not only in music, but literary studies and the arts in general. Among these merit awards was a scholarship from the Australian government for postgraduate research on music, myth and the novels of J.M. Coetzee.

Recently, under the practical and academic supervision of Fritz Buss and Prof. Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph respectively, he has been writing up a dissertation in Music Performance on “Transcribing Baroque Lute Music for the Ten-String Guitar and the Debate around Werktreue [or Fidelity to the Work]”. The culmination of this project will be the publication, in 2014, of an anthology of complete Baroque lute suites, sonatas and partitas for the 10-string guitar, a first of its kind.

In addition, he has written the first method book for the 10-string guitar following Yepes’s authentic approach: a collection of technical studies and fifty original transcriptions or editions in celebration of the 10-string guitar’s 50th anniversary. This book has been described by Buss as “the continuation of the creative and scholarly work begun by Narciso Yepes”. He is also author of www.tenstringguitar.info.

Though dedicated to the revival of lesser known Early Music, he maintains a relationship with contemporary composers and has given various South African premieres, as well as Australian premieres of South African music. Composers who have dedicated new works to him include Bob Dickinson (UK), Gerald Florian Messner (Australia), Fritz Buss (South Africa) and David Hoenigsberg (South Africa/Switzerland).

Between 2010 and 2011 he took a yearlong sabbatical from scholarly and artistic work to experience life in China and the metropolis of Shanghai. He describes himself as an eclectic, or citizen of the world. As Yehudi Menuhin wrote: “For me, then, music is very much a meeting with and in a common humanity … a language which is in some ways more precise and more emotionally certain and more revealing than words can ever be”.

Viktor van Niekerk has performed exclusively on a 1974 Ramirez model 1a since 2001.