Hilary Hahn

Violin

Biography

Three-time Grammy Award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn matches expressive musicality and technical expertise with a diverse repertoire guided by artistic curiosity. Her barrier-breaking attitude towards classical music and her commitment to sharing her experiences with a global community have made her a fan favorite. Hahn is a prolific recording artist and commissioner of new works. She is taking a year-long sabbatical over the 2019-20 concert season; she will return to performing in September 2020.

Hahn’s 2018-19 season revolved around the music of Bach, a constant in her musical life. Upon her admission to the Curtis Institute of Music at the age of ten, Hahn dedicated part of nearly every lesson to solo Bach; at 17 she made her recording debut with Hilary Hahn Plays Bach, consisting of three of Bach’s pinnacle works for solo violin. In October 2018, she released the remaining three of the same set of pieces after two decades of anticipation from fans and critics alike, bringing her relationship to this music full circle with a worldwide solo Bach recital tour.

The season was also dedicated to another mainstay of Hahn’s artistic practice: collaboration. In 2019, Hahn premiered two new works written for her: Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Two Serenades for violin and orchestra, completed posthumously by Kalevi Aho, and Lera Auerbach’s Sonata No. 4: Fractured Dreams. The season was bookended by another major release: her most recent solo commission, 6 Partitas by Antón García Abril. García Abril, Auerbach, and Rautavaara had been contributing composers for In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores, Hahn’s Grammy Award-winning multi-year commissioning project to revitalize the duo encore genre. A print edition of the complete sheet music was recently released by Boosey & Hawkes; it contains Hahn’s fingerings, bowings, and performance notes, ensuring that the encores become part of the active violin repertoire.

Hahn has related to her fans naturally from the very beginning of her career. She has committed to signings after nearly every concert and maintains and shares a collection of the fan-art she has received over the course of 20 years. An avid and early blogger, Hahn hosts on her website a variety of original writing dating back to 2002. Her “Postcards from the Road” feature, a series of personal updates from her travels around the world, evolved from an initial year-long postcard project that she began with a classroom of third-graders. She has also published articles on music in mainstream media and created a mini-video-masterclass series around 6 Partitas.

Most recently, Hahn has pioneered two new projects aimed at dispelling traditional barriers in classical performance. Through #100daysofpractice, her Instagram-based practice initiative, Hahn aspires to transform the typically grueling and isolating practice process into a community-oriented, social celebration of artistic development. Since creating the hashtag two years ago, Hahn has completed the project three times under her handle, @violincase; fellow performers and students have contributed nearly 300,000 posts under the hashtag. Her Bring Your Own Baby concerts, developed over recent residencies in Vienna, Seattle, Lyon, and Philadelphia, create opportunities for parents of infants to share their enjoyment of live classical music with their children in a nurturing, welcoming environment. Always free and offered on an infant-friendly schedule, they build on Hahn’s history of performances in unconventional venues such as community dance workshops, yoga studios, and knitting circles.

Hahn is a prolific and celebrated recording artist whose nineteen feature albums on Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, and Sony have all opened in the top ten of the Billboard charts. In addition, she can be found on three DVDs, an award-winning recording for children, and various compilations. Three of Hahn’s albums—her 2003 Brahms and Stravinsky concerto album, a 2008 pairing of the Schoenberg and Sibelius concerti, and her 2013 recording of In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores—have been awarded Grammys. Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto, which was written for Hahn and which she recorded along with the Tchaikovsky concerto, went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. In 2017, she released a fan-oriented retrospective collection that featured new live material recorded with classic direct-to-disc technology and showcased art from her fans.

Hahn has also participated in a number of non-classical productions. She was featured in the Oscar-nominated soundtrack to The Village and has collaborated 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. In 2012, Hahn launched Silfra, a free-improv project with experimental prepared-pianist Hauschka, following an intensive period of development.

Hahn is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions. In 2001, she was named “America’s Best Young Classical Musician” by Time magazine, and in 2010, she appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. In 2014 Hahn was awarded the Glashütte Original Music Festival Prize; she donated the prize money to the Philadelphia music education nonprofit Project 440. She also holds honorary doctorates from Middlebury College—where she spent four summers in the total-immersion German, French, and Japanese language programs—and Ball State University, where there are three scholarships in her name.

Recent News

Hilary Hahn Releases New Suzuki Violin Recordings

The International Suzuki Association, in conjunction with Alfred Music, has announced that Hilary Hahn, with pianist Natalie Zhu, has recorded the Suzuki Violin School, Volumes 1 – 3. The much anticipated recordings will be available in spring 2020. Ms Hahn said, "I...

Reviews

“I cannot think of a single performer who begins to compare with Hilary Hahn. This is quite simply magnificent violin-playing”

Rob Cowan

Gramophone Magazine

“Hilary Hahn was and is the epitome of violinist perfection.”

Egon Bezold

Nürnberger Nachrichten

More Reviews

“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.”

Christiane Peitz, Der Tagesspiegel 

“because there is a category that stands above all others: the sheer musicality and musical passion of this violinist.”

Helmut Mauro, Süddeutsche Zeitung 

“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.”

Michael Bastian Weiß, Abendzeitung 

“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.”

Duncan Druce, Gramophone 

“Her playing was at once impetuous and authoritative, brilliant and beautiful.”

Anthony Tommasini, New York Times 

“Hahn proved once again […] that she is one of the great Schoenberg interpreters of our time”

Jutta Rinas, Hannoversche Allgemeine 

“Hilary Hahn is and remains a phenomenon.”

Felix Stephan, Berliner Morgenpost 

“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.”

Jeremy Eichler, Boston Globe 

“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.”

Steve Smith, New York Times 

“At 33, [Hahn] sits atop the pantheon of stellar violinists.”

Tom Aldridge, NUVO 

“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.”

Matthew Guerrieri, The Boston Globe 

“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.”

Zachary Woolfe, New York Times 

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