Hilary Hahn

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Hilary Hahn
Hilary Hahn 2.jpg
Hahn in 2006
Background information
Born (1979-11-27) November 27, 1979 (age 39)
Lexington, Virginia, US
Genres Classical
Occupation(s) Violinist
Instruments1864 J.B. Vuillaume ( Il Cannone Guarneri reproduction)
Website www.hilaryhahn.com

Hilary Hahn (born November 27, 1979) is an American violinist. In her career, she has performed throughout the world both as a soloist with leading orchestras and conductors and as a recitalist. She also built a reputation as a champion of contemporary music. Several composers have written works especially for her, including concerti by Edgar Meyer and Jennifer Higdon and partitas by Antón García Abril.

Violin bowed string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths

The violin, sometimes known as a fiddle, is a wooden string instrument in the violin family. Most violins have a hollow wooden body. It is the smallest and highest-pitched instrument in the family in regular use. Smaller violin-type instruments exist, including the violino piccolo and the kit violin, but these are virtually unused. The violin typically has four strings tuned in perfect fifths, and is most commonly played by drawing a bow across its strings, though it can also be played by plucking the strings with the fingers (pizzicato) and by striking the strings with the wooden side of the bow.

Violin concerto concerto for solo violin (occasionally, two or more violins) and instrumental ensemble

A violin concerto is a concerto for solo violin and instrumental ensemble. Such works have been written since the Baroque period, when the solo concerto form was first developed, up through the present day. Many major composers have contributed to the violin concerto repertoire, with the best known works including those by Bach, Bartók, Beethoven, Brahms, Bruch, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Paganini, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak and Vivaldi.

Edgar Meyer is an American bassist and composer. His styles include classical, bluegrass, newgrass, and jazz. His collaborators have spanned a wide range of musical styles and talents; among them are Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn, Yo-Yo Ma, Jerry Douglas, Béla Fleck, Zakir Hussain, Sam Bush, Stuart Duncan, Chris Thile, Mike Marshall, Mark O'Connor, Christian McBride, and Emanuel Ax.


Early life and education

Hahn was born in Lexington, Virginia on November 27, 1979. [1] She began playing the violin one month before her fourth birthday in the Suzuki Program of Baltimore's Peabody Institute. She participated in a Suzuki class for a year. Between 1985 and early 1990 Hahn studied in Baltimore under Klara Berkovich. [2] In 1990, at ten, Hahn was admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where she became a student of Jascha Brodsky. Hahn studied with Brodsky for seven years and learned the études of Kreutzer, Ševčík, Gaviniès, Rode, and the Paganini Caprices. She learned twenty-eight violin concertos, as well as recital programs, chamber works, and assorted showpieces. [3]

Lexington, Virginia Independent city in Virginia, United States

Lexington is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. At the 2010 census, the population was 7,042. It is the county seat of Rockbridge County, although the two are separate jurisdictions. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Lexington with Rockbridge County for statistical purposes. Lexington is about 57 miles (92 km) east of the West Virginia border and is about 50 miles (80 km) north of Roanoke, Virginia. It was first settled in 1777.

Suzuki method teaching method

The Suzuki method is an internationally known music curriculum and teaching philosophy dating from the mid-20th century, created by Japanese violinist and pedagogue Shinichi Suzuki (1898–1998). The method aims to create an environment for learning music which parallels the linguistic environment of acquiring a native language. Suzuki believed that this environment would also help to foster good moral character.

Peabody Institute Conservatory and university-prep school

The Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University (JHU) is a conservatory and university-preparatory school in the Mount Vernon-Belvedere neighborhood of northern Baltimore, Maryland, United States, facing the landmark Washington Monument circle at the southeast corner of North Charles and East Monument Streets.

In 1991, at the age of eleven, Hahn made her major orchestral debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. [4] Soon thereafter, Hahn debuted with the Philadelphia Orchestra, [5] Cleveland Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic. [5] Hahn made her international debut in 1994 performing the Bernstein Serenade in Hungary with Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra. Her German debut came in 1995 with a performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto with Lorin Maazel and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. [6] The concert was broadcast in Europe. A year later, Hahn debuted at Carnegie Hall in New York City as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra. [5] In a 1999 interview with Strings Magazine, Hahn cited people influential to her development as a musician and a student, including David Zinman, the conductor of the Baltimore Symphony and Hahn's mentor since she was ten, and Lorin Maazel, with whose Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra she performed in Europe. [7]

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra American symphony orchestra based in Baltimore, Maryland

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is an American symphony orchestra based in Baltimore, Maryland. The Baltimore SO has its principal residence at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, where it performs more than 130 concerts a year. In 2005, it began regular performances at the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda.

Philadelphia Orchestra American symphony orchestra in Philadelphia, PA

The Philadelphia Orchestra is an American symphony orchestra, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One of the "Big Five" American orchestras, the orchestra is based at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, where it performs its subscription concerts, numbering over 130 annually, in Verizon Hall.

Cleveland Orchestra American symphony orchestra in Cleveland, OH

The Cleveland Orchestra, based in Cleveland, is one of the five American orchestras informally referred to as the "Big Five". Founded in 1918 by the pianist and impresario Adella Prentiss Hughes, the orchestra plays most of its concerts at Severance Hall. As of 2017, the incumbent music director is Franz Welser-Möst.

By sixteen, Hahn had completed the Curtis Institute's university requirements, but elected to remain for several years to pursue elective courses, until her graduation in May 1999 with a Bachelor of Music degree. [3] During this time she coached violin with Jaime Laredo, [8] and studied chamber music with Felix Galimir and Gary Graffman. [1] She appeared on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, in February 2000, discussing her early experiences with the violin and performing a solo and a duet. [9] In a December 2001 interview on PBS, Hahn stated that of all musical disciplines, she is most interested in performance. [10]

Bachelor of Music is an academic degree awarded by a college, university, or conservatory upon completion of a program of study in music. In the United States, it is a professional degree, and the majority of work consists of prescribed music courses and study in applied music, usually requiring proficiency in an instrument, voice, or conducting. In Canada, the B.M. is often considered an undergraduate degree. Programs typically last from three to four and a half years.

Jaime Laredo American conductor and violinist

Jaime Laredo is a violinist and conductor. Currently the conductor and Music Director of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, he began his musical career when he was five years old. In 1948 he came to North America and took lessons from Antonio de Grassi. He also studied with Frank Houser before moving to Cleveland, Ohio, to study under Josef Gingold in 1953. He studied with Ivan Galamian at the Curtis Institute of Music until his graduation. From 1960 to 1974 he was married to the pianist Ruth Laredo. Laredo is currently a professor at the renowned Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. He served as artistic advisor for the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra and guest conducted the orchestra on April 18, 2009, in a program featuring his wife, the cellist Sharon Robinson. He was scheduled to again conduct the orchestra for two programs during the 2009–10 season. Laredo and Robinson were also featured soloists in a special concert conducted by Andrew Constantine, who became the Philharmonic's music director in July 2009.

Felix Galimir was an Austrian-born American-Jewish violinist and music teacher.

Musical career

Hahn began recording in 1996. [11] Her earlier television appearances include Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood in 2000 (episode 1755), where Mr. Rogers visits a local music store and she plays for him. She has released 16 albums on the Deutsche Grammophon and Sony labels, in addition to three DVDs, an Oscar-nominated movie soundtrack, an award-winning recording for children, and various compilations. Her recordings are often marked by a blending of newer and traditional pieces. [12] Her albums include pairings of Beethoven with Leonard Bernstein, Schoenberg with Sibelius, Brahms with Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky with Jennifer Higdon. [13] [14] [15] [16]

Deutsche Grammophon record label

Deutsche Grammophon (DGG) is a German classical music record label that was the precursor of the corporation PolyGram. Headquarted in Berlin Friedrichshain, it is now part of Universal Music Group (UMG) since its merger with the UMG family of labels in 1999. It is the oldest surviving established record company.

Sony Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation

Sony Corporation is a Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Kōnan, Minato, Tokyo. Its diversified business includes consumer and professional electronics, gaming, entertainment and financial services. The company owns the largest music entertainment business in the world, the largest video game console business and one of the largest video game publishing businesses, and is one of the leading manufacturers of electronic products for the consumer and professional markets, and a leading player in the film and television entertainment industry. Sony was ranked 97th on the 2018 Fortune Global 500 list.

Ludwig van Beethoven German classical and romantic composer

Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in classical music, he remains one of the most recognised and influential of all composers. His best-known compositions include 9 symphonies; 5 piano concertos; 1 violin concerto; 32 piano sonatas; 16 string quartets; a mass, the Missa solemnis; and an opera, Fidelio. His career as a composer is conventionally divided into early, middle, and late periods; the "early" period is typically seen to last until 1802, the "middle" period from 1802 to 1812, and the "late" period from 1812 to his death in 1827.

Hahn has played with orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra, [17] New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, NHK Symphony Orchestra, and Singapore Symphony Orchestra. She debuted with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in March 2007, and played in Vatican City as part of the celebrations for Pope Benedict XVI together with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra and conductor Gustavo Dudamel, also in 2007. [18] [19] The concert was recorded and released by Deutsche Grammophon. [20]

London Symphony Orchestra oldest symphony orchestra in London

The London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), founded in 1904, is the oldest of London's symphony orchestras. It was set up by a group of players who left Henry Wood's Queen's Hall Orchestra because of a new rule requiring players to give the orchestra their exclusive services. The LSO itself later introduced a similar rule for its members. From the outset the LSO was organised on co-operative lines, with all players sharing the profits at the end of each season. This practice continued for the orchestra's first four decades.

New York Philharmonic American symphony orchestra in New York, NY

The New York Philharmonic, officially the Philharmonic-Symphony Society of New York, Inc., globally known as New York Philharmonic Orchestra (NYPO) or New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra, is a symphony orchestra based in New York City. It is one of the leading American orchestras popularly referred to as the "Big Five". The Philharmonic's home is David Geffen Hall, located in New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Boston Symphony Orchestra American symphony orchestra in Boston, MA

The Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is an American orchestra based in Boston, Massachusetts. It is one of the five major American symphony orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five". Founded in 1881, the BSO plays most of its concerts at Boston's Symphony Hall and in the summer performs at Tanglewood.

In addition to being a solo violinist, Hahn has also performed as a chamber musician. Since the summer of 1992 she has performed nearly every year with the Skaneateles Chamber Music Festival in Skaneateles, New York. [21] Between 1995 and 2000 she performed and studied chamber music at the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont, [22] and in 1996 she served as an artist and a member of the chamber music mentoring program of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. [3] In 2004, she toured Saint Petersburg, Russia, with the Poulenc Trio. [23]

On January 14, 2010, Hahn appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien for an interview in support of her album, Bach: Violin & Voice. [24]

Hahn has been interested in cross-genre collaboration and pushing musical boundaries. She began performing and touring in a crossover duo with singer-songwriter Josh Ritter in 2007 and with singer-songwriter Tom Brosseau in 2005. [25] She has recorded songs with "…And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead". [26] In 2012, Hahn released an album with German pianist and composer Hauschka entitled Silfra. The songs on the disc were completely improvised. Silfra was produced by Valgeir Sigurðsson. [27] [28] According to Hahn, "Other musicians cross genres all the time. For me it's not crossover—I just enter their world. It frees you up to think in a different way from what you've been trained to do." [29]

In June 2014 Hahn was awarded the Glashütte Original MusikFestspiel-Preis of the Dresden Music Festival. [30]

Beginning in 2016, Hahn has piloted free concerts for parents with infants, a knitting circle, a community dance workshop, a yoga class, and art students. She plans to continue to create these community-oriented concerts, encouraging people to combine live performance with their interests outside the concert hall and providing opportunities for parents to hear music with their infants, who might be barred from traditional concerts. [31]


Hahn is also a noted champion of new works. In 1999, she commissioned Edgar Meyer to write a concerto. She later recorded the piece with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. [32] In 2010, a concerto written for Hahn by Jennifer Higdon and recorded with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music. [33]

Hahn commissioned 26 contemporary composers to write short encore pieces for In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores. Among the composers are David Del Tredici, Jennifer Higdon, Du Yun, Elliott Sharp, David Lang, Nico Muhly, James Newton Howard, Valentyn Sylvestrov and Max Richter. [34] For the 27th encore, she held an open contest that drew more than 400 entries and was won by Jeff Myers. [35] The international premiere tours, from 2011 to 2013, were met with wide critical and audience acclaim. [36] [37] [38] In November 2013, these 27 short pieces were released on Deutsche Grammophon. [39] The recording won the Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance.

In 2016 and 2017, in recital tours across the U.S., Europe, and Japan, Hahn premiered six new partitas for solo violin by Antón García Abril, her first commissioning project for solo violin, as well as her first commission of a set of works from a single composer. The relationship with García Abril was forged during In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores. Digital and physical editions of the complete sheet music will be released by Musicnotes and Boosey & Hawkes.

Film music

Hahn began her film recording career as the soloist for James Newton Howard's score for M. Night Shyamalan's The Village in 2004. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score. [40] Hahn's recording of Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto was used extensively in The Deep Blue Sea , starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston. The film uses the piece's second movement to accompany a nine-minute sequence. [41] In 2013 Hahn was the soloist on Andrew Hewitt's score for the film The Sea . [42]

On playing Bach

In 1999, Hahn said that she played Bach more than any other composer and that she had played solo Bach pieces every day since she was eight. [3]

Bach is, for me, the touchstone that keeps my playing honest. Keeping the intonation pure in double stops, bringing out the various voices where the phrasing requires it, crossing the strings so that there are not inadvertent accents, presenting the structure in such a way that it's clear to the listener without being pedantic – one can't fake things in Bach, and if one gets all of them to work, the music sings in the most wonderful way.

Hilary Hahn, Saint Paul Sunday [43]

In a segment on NPR entitled "Musicians in Their Own Words", Hahn speaks about the surreal experience of playing the Bach Chaconne (from the Partita for Violin No. 2) alone on the concert stage. In the same segment, she discusses her experiences emulating a lark while playing The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams. [44]


Hilary Hahn, violin, and Valentina Lisitsa, piano, Kuss Auditorium, Clark State Performing Arts Center, Springfield, Ohio, 2009 HilaryHahnSpringfieldOH03032009.jpg
Hilary Hahn, violin, and Valentina Lisitsa, piano, Kuss Auditorium, Clark State Performing Arts Center, Springfield, Ohio, 2009

Her violin is an 1864 copy of Paganini's Cannone made by Vuillaume. [45] In an interview on Danish television, she states that she almost never leaves her instrument out of sight. Hahn uses bows by American bow maker Isaac Salchow [46] and French bow makers Émile Ouchard[ citation needed ], Paul Jombar, and Emil Miquel. For her strings, she uses Thomastik-Infeld Dominants for the A (aluminum wound), D and G (silver wound) and uses a Pirastro Gold Label Steel E. [47]


Hahn's official website includes a section entitled "By Hilary". In the Strings Magazine interview, Hahn said that the idea for her "Postcards from the Road" feature originated during an outreach visit to a third-grade class in upstate New York. The class was doing a geography project in which the students asked everyone they knew who was traveling to send postcards from the cities that they were visiting, in order to learn more about the world. Hahn decided to participate after receiving a positive reaction from her suggestion that she take part as well. [3] Hahn enjoyed her first year's experience with the project so much that she decided to continue it on her new website. [48] A few years later, she expanded the postcards to a journal format. Journal entries usually include photographs from her tours and rehearsals.

Personal life

Hahn and her husband live in Cambridge, Massachusetts since 2016, after having lived in New York City for several years. [49] [50] They have two daughters. [49]


Partita for Violin Solo No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002, and Sonata for Violin Solo No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 1003.

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