Borletti-Buitoni Trust
BBT Artists Rewarding Musical Excellence
Kuss Quartet
String Quartet
BBT Fellowship 2003

Kuss Quartet - Biography

The Kuss Quartet was supported by Borletti-Buitoni Trust between 2003 and 2006.  For an up-to-date materials please visit

Jana Kuss violin
Oliver Wille violin
William Coleman viola
Mikayel Hakhnazaryan cello

With its unique approach to music-making, the Kuss Quartet ranks amongst the world’s most renowned ensembles. The two founder members, Jana Kuss and Oliver Wille (violin) have been travelling the same musical path for 25 years. Together with William Coleman and Mikayel Hakhnazaryan, they have pioneered concept-based programmes, revealing new and original musical perspectives.
Kuss Plus – the ensemble’s classical lounge series – has become legendary in its success, making a long-lasting mark on the Berlin music scene and combining quartets with many areas of the arts, including dance, slam-poetry, world music, and poetry.

In 2002 the Kuss Quartet won first prize at the Borciani competition and the following year it won the Borletti-Buitoni Award and was selected for the European Concert Hall Organisation’s ‘Rising Stars’ programme. Critics prizes include the Opus Klassik for a recent Sony recording.

The quartet’s international career has taken them from New York’s Carnegie Hall to Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, from London’s Wigmore Hall to the Philharmonie in Berlin, their home city. Frequent engagements at major festivals include the Schubertiade Schwarzenberg, Beethovenfest Bonn, Rheingau Festival and the Edinburgh and Salzburg festivals, as well as tours of the USA, Australia, South America and Japan.

The Kuss Quartet inspires the next generation of chamber musicians in numerous international masterclasses. Furthermore, William Coleman (at the Mozarteum Salzburg) and Oliver Wille (in Hannover and Birmingham) hold professorships at European music colleges.

A grant from the state of Lower Saxony, has enabled the quartet to commission new works; Enno Poppe’s Freizeit was premièred in November 2016, with Aribert Reimann’s Die schönen Augen der Frühlingsnacht following in 2017 and Manfred Trojahn’s Fifth String Quartet in 2018. In 2019 Bruno Mantovani’s Beethoveniana completes the series of new works.

Following the success of its album Bridges (Sony Classical), the English label Onyx Classics released the highly-acclaimed concept CD ‘Theme Russe’ and further releases by Onyx Classics include Schubert’s String Quintet with cellist Miklós Perényi, a musician with whom the quartet are particularly fond of working.

In 2020 the quartet will première a new collaboration with Nico and the Navigators, Force and Freedom, a Beethoven evening of quartet, multi-media, and dance.

Last updated: October 2018

Happily, there is an impressive array of organisations for the promotion and support of young artists. The Borletti-Buitoni Trust offers something, however, that is quite unique. It is an award that by nature supports artists in the crucial stage between initial breakthroughs and successes, and the period where one becomes fully established in the musical world. This period is often forgotten about and can cause huge problems, where the enormous costs of publicity, travel (a five-ticket affair for the beleaguered quartet and cello) and all sorts of other unforeseen costs are often not covered by the concert fees of young artists. What a wonderful, insightful foundation, unprecedented in the intelligence and imagination with which it is run. Helping young artists develop as serious musicians of integrity despite the difficulties of a modern and commercial world.

Photographs by Rüdiger Schestag