Professor & Professional Bassoonist
Multiple Grammy-nominated Estonian-born bassoon virtuoso, Martin Kuuskmann’s charismatic and commanding performances throughout the world have earned him repute as one of todays leading solo instrumentalists.
The New York Times has praised his Kuuskmann’s performances as “amazing…dynamic…Kuuskmann played stunningly .”
Martin has taught at the Manhattan School of Music and is currently a Professor of Bassoon and Chamber Music at the University of Denver. A graduate of Manhattan School of Music and the Yale School of Music, both under full scholarship, his mentors include Stephen Maxym, Frank Morelli, Rufus Olivier, Vernon Read. After starting his music studies with piano followed by clarinet, he started the bassoon at the age of 15 with Ilmar Aasmets and graduated from the Tallinn Music High School just before heading to further his studies in the United States.
As a soloist, he has performed with many of the worlds leading orchestras including MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, Baltic Sea Philharmonic, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Lukes, National Orchestra of Chile, Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra, and the American Composers Orchestra. He has performed under conductors such as Neeme, Paavo and Kristjan Järvi, Robert Spano, Gudni Emilsson, Tõnu Kaljuste, Anu Tali, Daniel Bjarnason, Leonid Grin, Jose Luis Gomez, Risto Joost, Mihhail Gerts, and David Delta Gier. He has performed in worldwide concert halls including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln and Kennedy Centers, Sala Sao Paulo.
Martin's exceptionally wide repertoire spans from traditional works to 13 concertos written especially for him by some of todays leading composers including Christopher Theofanidis, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Tõnu Kõrvits, David Chesky, Eino Tamberg, Gene Pritsker and Miguel Kertsman. His current bassoon concerto commissions extend to 2023/24 season and include multiple Grammy winning composers Jennifer Higdon and Charlie Porter, and an Icelandic composer, Pall Ragnar Palsson. He has also partnered with a renown cellist, Johannes Moser, in commissioning a double concerto for amplified bassoon and cello from the Los Angeles based composer, Ted Hearne. Praised for his versatility through different musical styles, Martin has collaborated with jazz luminaries including Gerry Mulligan, Joe Zawinul and John Patitucci, latter of whom wrote Kuuskmann Caprice No.1 for bassoon and strings. Known for his deft performances of the monumental solo work by Luciano Berio, Sequenza XII, he was invited as a soloist in 2008 for the New York Philharmonic’s “Day of Berio” in Rose Theater at Lincoln Center, which the New York Times praised with “…Kuuskmann showed virtuosity and superhuman breath control…” For the last several years Martin has been involved on a Brazilian music project with the pianist/composer and multiple Grammy-nominee Jovino Santos Neto. Kuuskmann continues his partnership with a brilliant jazz pianist and composer, Kristjan Randalu, whom they have recently embarked on another project in reworking the entire song cycle of “Winterreise” by Franz Schubert.
As a recording artist, his CD’s range from Grammy Nominated Bassoon Concertos written for Kuuskmann by Christopher Theofanidis (2017, ERP Records) and David Chesky (2006, Chesky Records) to Miguel Kertsman’s Bassoon Concerto recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (2018, Naxos) under Dennis Russell Davies. His wide palette in musical styles is displayed from his duo CD “Archipelago” (CCn’C) with an accordionist William Schimmel to his collaboration with Tibetan Monks (Erdenklang) to Bach and Telemann Concertos with 1B1 Ensemble (Simax) along with the renown violist Lars Anders Tomter. In the 20/21 season Martin is set to be recording the much anticipated concertos by Tüür, Tamberg and Raimo Kangro as well as the concerto by Pall Ragnar Palsson. His recordings and performances of transcribed works have created several publications for bassoon and piano, including Arvo Pärt’s luminous “Spiegel im Spiegel” on Universal Editions and Daniel Schnyder’s Bassoon Sonata on Editions Kunzelmann. Through the years he has played, and transcribed, numerous works of Daniel Schnyder’s including his Bassoon Concerto.
As an in demand chamber musician Martin has often been invited as a guest member and soloist with the Berlin Philharmonic’s Ensemble Berlin and the Berlin Philharmonic Winds. He’s a frequent guest in chamber music festivals worldwide, including the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, Risør, Kuhmo, Bremen and Pärnu Music Festivals among many others. His collaborating partners have included Leif Ove Andsnes, Kirill Gerstein, Katherine Stott, Christoph Hartmann, Lars Anders Tomter, Ole Edvard Antonsen, Gordon Hunt, Florian Donderer, Tanja Tezlaff, Matt Hunt, Marianne Beate Kielland.
Martin has enjoyed a busy freelance career in New York, until his move to the West Coast in 2003, having performed regularly with leading New York City based orchestras including the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Lukes, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, “Miss Saigon” on Broadway and many others. He has been the solo bassoonist of the renown New York City based Absolute Ensemble since 1995. For several years he served as the solo bassoonist of the Estonian Festival Orchestra led by Paavo Järvi, the years he treasures greatly, having consequently recorded the orchestras first CD released on the RCA Gold Label (Schostakovitch’s 6th). His solo recordings can often be heard on NPR stations across the the United States and in the classical music stations worldwide. He has recorded dozens of major movie soundtracks, video games such as Zelda, Destiny, World of Warcraft as well as the entire bassoon sound library for the Cinesamples Winds orchestration software.
An avid educator, Martin regularly gives masterclasses in worldwide festivals and universities. Since 2010 he has been working closely with the Berlin based Baltic Sea Philharmonic as their woodwind coach. After years playing on a Heckel bassoon, he changed to be an artist of the German made Bernd Moosmann bassoons in 2011 and has been instrumental in the development of the Moosmann professional bassoon line. He is also an artist of Miller Marketing Company and Legere Reeds, a company he has been working closely since 2011 in the development of their synthetic bassoon reeds.