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Hilary Hahn, violin


At the age of twenty, American violinist Hilary Hahn has already established herself as one of the most accomplished and compelling artists on the international concert circuit. Following her 1995 debut with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Lorin Maazel, the critic for Munich’s Süddeutscher Zeitung stated that her playing belonged “to those rare talents which one encounters once in a century.”

Recognizing Hahn’s promise, Sony Classical signed her to an exclusive recording contract in 1996 that made her one of the youngest exclusive artists in the label’s century-long history. Her first recording for Sony Classical, featuring a selection from Bach’s solo partitas and sonatas, was released in the autumn of 1997, just as the violinist was making her New York recital debut at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. In France, the disc won the country’s most distinguished recording prize, the 1998 Diapason d’Or for “Young Talent.” In America, it was “Pick of the Month” for Stereo Review and appeared for weeks as a bestseller on the Billboard classical charts.

The 1998/99 season brought the release of Hilary Hahn’s second disc for Sony Classical—a coupling of the Beethoven Violin Concerto and the Bernstein Serenade (SK 60584), recorded in the spring of 1998 with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and David Zinman, and produced by Thomas Frost. The disc has been a critical and popular success: Gramophone named it “CD of the Month,” and Diapason awarded it “d’Or of the Month.”

FonoForum in Germany and 24 Hours in Australia published cover stories about the violinist, and the disc appeared as a classical bestseller on the international record charts. This disc has also recently received a GRAMMY® nomination for Best Instrumental Soloist. Hahn’s next release with the label, due in March 2000, will feature Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto and the premiere recording of a new concerto by American composer Edgar Meyer commissioned for her. She will be joined by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

Highlights of Hahn’s 1999-2000 season include her debut in December with the Berlin Philharmonic; re-engagements with the Cleveland, Los Angeles and Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestras; and a 15-city recital tour of the United States and Europe, appearing in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Geneva, Hamburg, Milan, and Paris, among other cities. In the spring, she makes a number of international orchestra debuts—first in Scandinavia, with the orchestras of Oslo, Copenhagen, Helsinki, and Stockholm; then in Canada and England, with the Toronto Symphony and the Bournemouth Sinfonietta; and in the United States, with the Dallas and San Francisco symphonies. In addition, Hahn returns to Carnegie Hall as soloist with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and revisits American and European orchestras in cities from Phoenix to Jerusalem.

Admitted to Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music at the age of ten, Hahn made her widely publicized major orchestral debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in December 1991, aged eleven. Recent performances have included her debuts as soloist with the New York Philharmonic, the Pittsburgh and Detroit Symphony Orchestras, Philadelphia and Cleveland Orchestras, and the Budapest Festival Orchestra.

Hahn made her Paris debut in January 1998 with the Orchestre Philharmonique and conductor Marek Janowski, which was broadcast live throughout France. In the spring of 1998, she toured with the Bavarian Radio Symphony and Lorin Maazel, making concerto appearances in cities including London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Zurich, and Vienna. In the United States, Hahn gave her New York recital debut at Lincoln Center and returned to Carnegie Hall as soloist with the St. Louis Symphony and Hans Vonk. In the 1998-1999 season Hahn appeared with the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the National Symphony, among other orchestras across the United States and Europe. She concluded the season with a five-week tour of Australia.

As a recitalist, Hilary Hahn made her debuts at Ravinia’s “Rising Stars” series in Chicago and at the Phillips Collection Concert Series in Washington, D.C., in autumn 1994. She has also appeared in recital in Baltimore, Cleveland, and Philadelphia, as well as at the Festival de Sully et d’Orleans in France. She is an avid chamber musician and performs regularly at the distinguished Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont. In October 1997, Hahn also made her recital debuts in Rotterdam, Paris, Hanover, and Munich.

A student of Jascha Brodsky, Hilary Hahn began playing the violin a month before her fourth birthday in the Suzuki program of Baltimore’s Peabody Conservatory. From the age of five until she entered the Curtis Institute, she studied with Klara Berkovich, a native of Odessa, who taught for twenty-five years in the Leningrad School for the Musically Gifted. For the next seven years, she studied at Curtis with the legendary Jascha Brodsky—the last surviving student of the great Belgian violinist Eugene Ysäye—working closely with him until his death at the age of 89. Hahn has been taught by Jaime Laredo and has studied chamber music with Felix Galimir and Gary Graffman.

Hilary Hahn plays a J. B. Vuillaume “del Gesù” violin made in 1864.

June 22, 2000