Hille Perl (born Hildegard Perl on 9 March 1965, in Bremen) is a German virtuoso performer of the viola da gamba and lirone. She is considered to be one of the world's finest viola da gamba players, specializing in solo and ensemble music of the 17th and 18th centuries. She has a particular interest in French Baroque repertoire for seven-string bass viola da gamba. She also performs Spanish, Italian, German, and modern repertoire for the instrument and has released many CDs.
Her long-time performing partner is Lee Santana, who plays the lute, theorbo, chitarrone, and baroque guitar. In addition to an original 18th-century gamba made by Matthais Alban in Tyrol, 1687, she plays a seven-string Tielke replica made by Ingo Muthesius and a six-string Italian gamba made by Claus Derenbach.
Her main instrument, the Alban gamba, was discovered in 1952 in an Austrian convent, and was restored by Ingo Muthesius. Muthesius replaced the neck, while retaining the original lion's head scroll and peg box. Claus Derenbach has made a new bridge and fingerboard. The body remains original. Unusually, no sister instrument has been found to date, though the top-wood corresponds with violins surviving from Alban's workshop in Bozen, where he worked with his two sons until 1712. The instrument was bequeathed to Perl in the previous owner's will.
Her father Helmut Perl was an organist, musicologist and author who specialized in Mozart. She decided to play the viola da gamba after attending a Wieland Kuijken concert when she was five years old. She studied with Niklas Trüstedt (Berlin) and Pere Ros and Ingrid Stampa (Hamburg). Her daughter Marthe Perl (born 25 December 1983) and niece Sarah Perl also play viol.
Perl lives on a small farm in Niedersachsen, northern Germany and teaches at the University of the Arts Bremen. She has co-founded several ensembles, including the Sirius Viols and Los Otros. She appeared in Michael Haneke's 2017 movie Happy End, playing gamba.
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