Having received his basic musical training at an early age in the boys choir of his hometown Basle, Switzerland, Martin Bruns went on to study violin at the Basle Musikhochschule, became a member of the Berne Symphony Orchestra for a few seasons, and then studied voice in Fribourg, Zurich and, as a student of Daniel E. Ferro, at the Juilliard School in New York. Other important teachers were Irwin Gage, Martin Isepp, Albert Fuller, Ernst Häfliger, Arleen Augér, Phyllis Curtin and Mary Morrison in masterclasses and at festivals such as Aldeburgh, Siena, Banff and Tanglewood. After winning the New York State Metropolitan Opera Auditions and the Joy in Singing Award, his career began at the Wiesbaden Opera in leading roles like e.g. Papageno, Guglielmo, Figaro (Barbiere), Donner (Rheingold) and Silvio. Guest appearances have also taken him since to the opera houses of Düsseldorf, Freiburg, Berne and Munich (Bavarian State Opera).
His versatility is displayed through his vast repertory spanning from Monteverdi and Bach to Mozart, Mahler and Schönberg on to contemporary music. This has led to the collaboration with conductors such as Marcello Viotti, Ivor Bolton, Eric Ericson, Yoav Talmi, Heinz Holliger, Peter Ruzicka, Gerard Schwarz, Avi Ostrowsky, Oleg Caetani and Jonathan Nott.
Martin Bruns has been a soloist with major orchestras in Europe and overseas, e.g. the Choir and Symphony Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio in Munich, the Scharoun Ensemble of the Berlin Philharmonic, the NDR Symphony Orchestra Hamburg, the New York Chamber Symphony and the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra. In the field of early music he has also sung with the Ensemble of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and the Academy for Early Music Berlin. Yet he feels equally at home in contemporary music as show his appearances e.g. with Ensemble Resonanz Hamburg and Ensemble Contrechamps Geneva as well as numerous first and premiere performances of works by composers such as Aribert Reimann, Wolfgang Rihm, Earl Kim, John Musto and Frangiz Ali-Zadeh, including the world premiere of Paul Engel’s cycle "Getäuscht hat sich der Albatros" together with the Vienna Piano Trio in Munich.
A sought-after recitalist, he has appeared at major concert halls and festivals in, among others, Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Bonn, Zurich, Geneva, Lucerne, Salzburg, New York, Seattle, San Diego and Ottawa. Frequent partners are pianists Jan Philip Schulze, Christoph Hammer (fortepiano), Ulrich Eisenlohr and Stephane Lemelin. Besides the core romantic repertoire, Martin Bruns places particular interest in performing lesser-known works of the 20th century, e.g. by Ferruccio Busoni, Ignace Strasfogel or David Diamond.
Together with pianist Kolja Lessing he recorded Strasfogel’s “Dear Men and Women” for Decca as well as a CD of songs and chamber music by Philipp Jarnach on the Divox label. His recording of Schubert/Schiller songs with Ulrich Eisenlohr for Naxos prompted Opera News to write: "Bruns and Eisenlohr are hardly household names, but maybe they should be." On the same label he released the first recording of Ferruccio Busoni’s songs, also with pianist Ulrich Eisenlohr. Most recently, a CD (“In der Frühlingsmondnacht”) with Romantic songs for voice and fortepiano (Christoph Hammer) was released on the “Ars Produktion” label.
A longstanding artistic relationship connects him with Swedish guitarist Mats Bergström, with whom he arranged and published Schubert’s “Die Schöne Müllerin” for baritone and guitar (Gehrmans Musikförlag, Stockholm).
Martin Bruns also enjoys musicological research: in celebration of the 700th anniversary of Francesco Petrarca in 2004 he published the first ever overview of the musical settings on Petrarch’s poetry from the 15th to the 21st century, edited two compilations of songs on poems by the Italian Renaissance poet (Editio Bärenreiter & Classical Vocal Reprints, New York), and founded the “Festival Petrarca Musicale” near Augsburg, Germany.
Highlights of recent seasons were the
premiere performances of Antonin Dvorak’s cycle “Cypresses” in the rediscovered
original version for voice and piano in Ludwigshafen and Ljubljana, the world-wide
broadcast of his recital “Fliegt, ihr meiner Jugend Träume” at the
Beethovenhaus in Bonn by the European Broadcasting Union, a US tour with his new recital program "Hafiz in the West", a double-bill
production of Carl Orff’s “Die Kluge” and Gian-Carlo Menotti’s “The Telephone”
in Basel, and the performance of Othmar
Schoeck’s “Notturno” together with the Sonos String Quartet. He also appeared
e.g. in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with the Orchestra and Choir of the Fundacion
Gulbenkian in Lisbon, in Mendelssohn’s “Paulus” at the Tonhalle in Zurich.
As a teacher, Mr. Bruns has served on the vocal faculty of the University of the Arts in Zurich, Switzerland, and, every summer since 1995, at the "Daniel Ferro Vocal Program" in Greve in Chianti (Italy).
Recently, he was appointed professor of voice at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne/Aachen. He also holds a position of visiting professor of voice at the Hanns Eisler Hochschule für Musik in Berlin.