To find the roots of the Viennese native, one must travel to Bohemia, Slovenia, Transylvania, and even Holland. His father, a music-loving physicist, and his mother, a professional pianist, taught their son never to let a day pass without music.
When he was awarded the "Premier Prix du Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique" in Paris in 1967, his teacher, André Navarra, predicted somewhat skeptically:
"You will play too much chamber music in your life."
Years later, when he heard him with the Alban Berg Quartet, he declared Valentin Erben - this time with admiration - as a "virtuoso of chamber music."
Günter Pichler, the first violinist of the Alban Berg Quartet, calls him the "angel of the string quartet."
Valentin Erben was born in Pernitz in 1945. From 1947, his family lived in Augsburg. His mother, a pianist, and his father, an amateur violinist and cellist, regularly invited friends to chamber music gatherings at home. This led Valentin Erben to be exposed to music at a very early age. He received his first "cello" - which was actually a modified viola - at the age of four. After his initial steps on the cello under his father's guidance, he started taking lessons with Paul Freidel, the principal cellist of the Municipal Symphony Orchestra and a student of Julius Klengel, at the age of eight.
Influenced by many beautiful musical experiences and encounters - numerous concerts at the Herkulessaal in Munich, including unforgettable impressions of Rudolf Serkin and the Vegh Quartet, as well as a trip to Pablo Casals in the French Pyrenees - he already harbored the desire to become a cellist at a very young age.
In 1960, Valentin Erben began his cello studies with Walter Reichardt at the University of Music and Performing Arts Munich. In July 1963, he had an encounter in Siena that would be of great significance for his future path: he met the famous cellist and pedagogue André Navarra, as well as other renowned cellists such as Maurice Gendron and Paul Tortelier.
In 1964, he graduated in Munich and then continued his studies in Vienna with Tobias Kühne, a former student of Navarra. In February 1965, he performed Schumann's Cello Concerto in the main hall of the Vienna Konzerthaus.
From 1965 to 1968, Valentin Erben experienced a happy and intensive period of study with André Navarra at the Conservatoire de Paris. He also received chamber music lessons from Jean Hubeau and Josef Calvet. In May 1968, he received the "Premier Prix" for cello and chamber music, and thus returned to Vienna.
In the spring of 1969, the Alban Berg Quartet was founded in Vienna, a fateful and successful association of four musicians who would shape and dominate the international string quartet scene for nearly 40 years.
From 2004 to 2007, Valentin Erben was also a member of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra under the direction of Claudio Abbado.
In June 2013, Valentin Erben retired from the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, where he had taught for over 40 years.
Valentin Erben plays the famous cello by Matteo Goffriller from 1722, known as the "Ex-Pierre Fournier" and "Ex-Yo-Yo Ma."
In addition to an active concert career as a soloist and chamber musician, he now also gives musical
lectures, chamber music masterclasses - including in Paris with ProQuartet - and collaborates with composers, singers, and dancers.