Three-time Grammy Award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn is renowned for her clear and brilliant musicality, expansive interpretations of an incredibly varied repertoire, and organic connections with her audience. Her creative approach to music-making and her commitment to sharing her experiences with a global community have made her a fan favorite. She recently created the Instagram project #100DaysOfPractice for which she posted videos of herself practicing for a hundred days straight, openly sharing her behind-the-scenes work with her fans to break down perceived barriers around the creative process.
Hahn devotes much of the 2018-19 season to a thread that has bound her entire musical career together. In October she released Bach’s Partita No. 1 and Sonatas 1 and 2, after the two decades of anticipation from fans and critics alike that followed her first album, Hilary Hahn plays Bach, released when she was only 17. Throughout the fall and spring, she performs solo Bach recitals in Vienna, Paris, New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Toronto, Tokyo, Seoul, Berlin, London, and Munich. Also in 2018-19, she is Artist-in-Residence at the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, with whom she will perform Sibelius in Austria, Germany, France, and Spain and premiere the final violin concerto of Einojuhani Rautavaara, written for Hahn and completed posthumously by Kalevi Aho. She takes Mozart’s fifth concerto to Japan and Korea with Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, performs Prokofiev’s first concerto with Järvi and the Philharmonia Orchestra in Germany, and returns to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Sibelius.
Bach has been a part of Hahn’s life from the beginning of her musical studies, including with her first teacher, Klara Berkovich. At ten she was admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia to study with Jascha Brodsky, a former pupil of Eugène Ysaÿe and Efrem Zimbalist, who dedicated part of nearly every lesson to solo Bach. She often incorporates movements of the partitas and sonatas into her free – and sometimes surprise – concerts for knitting circles, community dance workshops, yoga groups, art students, and parents with their babies. She developed these mini concerts as part of recent residencies in Vienna, Seattle, Lyon, and Philadelphia, and will continue to do so this year at Radio France, encouraging music lovers to combine live performance with their interests outside the concert hall and providing opportunities for parents to enjoy live music with their infants.
In addition to honoring the traditional violin literature, Hahn constantly delves into the unexpected. Her latest commission, her first for solo violin and her first of a set of works from a single composer, is six partitas by Antón García Abril, which she premiered in the United States, Europe, and Japan. García Abril was also one of the composers for In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores, Hahn’s multi-year commissioning project to revitalize the duo encore genre. Her album of those encores won a Grammy for Best Chamber Music/ Small Ensemble Performance in 2015, and the print edition of the complete sheet music will be released by Boosey & Hawkes. Complete with Hahn’s fingerings, bowings, and performance notes, the sheet music will ensure that the encores become part of the active violin repertoire.
Hahn’s curiosity extends beyond music. After having completed her university requirements at the Curtis Institute at sixteen and having already made her solo debuts with the Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Utah, and Bavarian Radio symphony orchestras; the Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Budapest Festival orchestras, and the New York Philharmonic, among others, she chose to continue her studies for three more years, delving into languages, literature, and writing. She spent four summers at the Marlboro Music Festival and another four in the total-immersion German, French, and Japanese programs at Middlebury College. She holds honorary doctorates from Middlebury College and Ball State University, where there are also three scholarships in her name.
Hahn has released eighteen albums on the Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, and Sony labels, in addition to three DVDs, an Oscar-nominated movie soundtrack, an award-winning recording for children, and various compilations. Hahn’s first Grammy came in 2003 for her Brahms and Stravinsky concerto album. A pairing of the Schoenberg and Sibelius concerti spent 23 weeks on the charts and earned Hahn her second Grammy. Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto, which was written for Hahn and which Hahn recorded along with the Tchaikovsky concerto, went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. In 2012 Hahn launched Silfra with experimental prepared-pianist Hauschka. The album was produced by Valgeir Sigurðsson and was entirely improvised by Hahn and Hauschka following an intensive period of development. In 2017 she released a retrospective collection that also contained new live material and art from her fans, in keeping with a decades-long tradition of collecting fan art at concerts.
Hahn is known for her natural ability to connect with fans, from their art projects and her YouTube interview series (youtube.com/hilaryhahnvideos), to her violin case’s comments on life with a concert violinist on Twitter and Instagram (@violincase). She was an early blogger, sending her fans “postcards from the road” on her website, hilaryhahn.com, and publishing articles in mainstream media. In 2001, Hahn was named “America’s Best Young Classical Musician” by Time magazine, and in 2010, she appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. Hahn was featured in the Oscar-nominated soundtrack to The Village and has participated in a number of non-classical productions, collaborating on two records by the alt-rock band ….And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, on the album Grand Forks by Tom Brosseau, and on tour with folk-rock singer-songwriter Josh Ritter.
Three-time Grammy Award-winner Hilary Hahn releases Hilary Hahn Plays Bach – Sonatas 1 & 2, Partita 1 on Decca Classics. The recording has received a stunning 5-star review in The Times, with critic Geoff Brown writing: "Technique, feelings, heart and mind — every...
“I cannot think of a single performer who begins to compare with Hilary Hahn. This is quite simply magnificent violin-playing”
“Hilary Hahn was and is the epitome of violinist perfection.”
“Hahn conjured into being a cathedral of sound: spacious and full of dazzling beauty.”
Simon Chin, Washington Post October 2018
“Nothing [Hahn] does is for show. Technique, feelings, heart and mind are intuitively fused, as Bach always demands”
Geoff Brown, The Times October 2018
“Hahn went well beyond her customary excellent intonation and exceptional technique to present something brimming with emotion and enthusiasm, excitement and interpretive imagination.”
Rob Hubbard, Pioneer Press February 18th 2016
“[Hahn} removes the gravity and lets the song of her violin climb to dizzying heights with perfect beauty and gives this done-to-death piece a soul, as if it is being heard for the first time.”
“because there is a category that stands above all others: the sheer musicality and musical passion of this violinist.”
“Let’s simply say, she does everything right – just right. This becomes most evident whilst playing alone as with the Johann Sebastian Bach, whose Partita No.3 for violin solo was never played better in violin history even by the grand masters – indeed Hilary rather surpasses them through the naturalness of her music-making.”
“The Vieuxtemps [Fourth Violin Concerto] … is remarkable, with Hahn playing the role of melodramatic protagonist to perfection; she has a powerful presence and, in the finale, finds a truly heroic tone.”
“Her playing was at once impetuous and authoritative, brilliant and beautiful.”
“Hahn proved once again […] that she is one of the great Schoenberg interpreters of our time”
“Hilary Hahn is and remains a phenomenon.”
“This diverse collection of miniatures represents the fruit of Hahn’s ambitious commissioning project… Hahn was already a well-established virtuoso. This project marks her evolution as something far more interesting: a creative force.”
“Individually, the pieces represent an admirable span of ages, nationalities and styles, with veteran creators like Einojuhani Rautavaara and Valentin Silvestrov placed alongside contemporary concert-world stars — Jennifer Higdon, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Nico Muhly — and emerging artists. What impresse[s] most… [is] how well the package coheres — a matter of Ms. Hahn’s smart pacing — and how deftly Ms. Hahn negotiated constant shifts among disparate techniques and moods.”
“At 33, [Hahn] sits atop the pantheon of stellar violinists.”
“Throughout, Hahn was an unflappably confident advocate. The core of her technique is precision and refinement — elegant sound; frictionless, clean bowing and intonation; polished, rounded-off phrasing.”
“She deserved the ovation. Her performance began inauspiciously, with an authority that felt cool, even chilly. But as Bach’s lines wove together, her playing gradually deepened into something intense, adventurous and affecting. It was a microcosm of Ms. Hahn’s career. Born in 1979, she started out as a prodigy of rare clarity and virtuosity and has developed into a daring, mature artist eager for new collaborations and repertory.”