Hilary Hahn - Biography
Three-time Grammy Award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn is renowned for her virtuosity, expansive interpretations, and creative programming. Her dynamic approach to music-making and her commitment to sharing her musical experiences with a broad global community have made her a fan favorite.
Hahn’s distinct stylistic choices honor the traditional violin literature while delving into the unexpected. Since last season, in recital tours across the United States, Europe, and Japan, Hahn has been premiering six new partitas for solo violin by composer Antón García Abril. The works are Hahn’s first commissioning project for solo violin and her first commission of a set of works from a single composer. “In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores” is Hahn’s multi-year commissioning project, started in 2011, to revitalize the duo encore genre. Hahn’s 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. A special vinyl edition of the recording will also be released.
Hahn’s 2015-16 artist residency at Vienna’s Konzerthaus featured her performing Mozart with the Camerata Salzburg, Dvořák with the Vienna Symphony, and Vieuxtemps with the Vienna Philharmonic, plus a solo recital. As part of her residency Hahn piloted free – and sometimes surprise – concerts for parents with infants, a knitting circle, and a community dance workshop as the live music for their end-of-year performance. The 2016-17 season will see Hahn in residence with both the Seattle Symphony and the Orchestre National de Lyon. In conjunction with her performances with those orchestras and her recitals in Seattle and Lyon, Hahn will create outreach activities customized to each city. She will also continue her free community-oriented concerts, encouraging music lovers to combine live performance with their interests outside the concert hall. Other activities in the 2016-17 season include European concerto tours with the Czech Philharmonic, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and the Orchestre National de Lyon; appearances with the Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, and National Symphony Orchestras, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Frankfurt Radio and Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestras, and the Spanish National Orchestra; and recital tours with pianist Robert Levin throughout North America and Europe.
Hahn took her first violin lessons in the Suzuki program of the Peabody Institute in her hometown of Baltimore at the age of three, and at five she began lessons with Klara Berkovich, who had just emigrated from St. Petersburg. At ten, Hahn was admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia to study with Jascha Brodsky, a former pupil of Eugène Ysaÿe and Efrem Zimbalist. Hahn completed her university requirements at sixteen, 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. Hahn continued her studies for three more years, delving into languages, literature, and writing, and received her bachelor’s degree at nineteen. 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 Ball State University and Middlebury College.
Hahn has released sixteen 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. Spanning an extremely wide range of repertoire, including Bach, Stravinsky, Elgar, Beethoven, Vaughan Williams, Mozart, Schoenberg, Paganini, Spohr, Barber, Bernstein, Ives, Higdon, and Tchaikovsky, her recordings have received every critical prize in the international press and have met with equal popular success. All have debuted in the top ten of the Billboard classical chart.
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. In 2010, she premiered her recording of Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto along with the Tchaikovsky concerto. Higdon’s composition, written for Hahn, 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. Her latest album, Mozart 5, Vieuxtemps 4 - Violin Concertos, pairs concerti that have played an active part in her repertoire for more than 25 years.
Hahn is an avid writer, having posted journal entries for two decades on her website, hilaryhahn.com, and published articles in mainstream media. On her YouTube channel, youtube.com/hilaryhahnvideos, she interviews colleagues about their experiences in music. Her violin case comments on life as a traveling companion, on Twitter and Instagram at @violincase. In 2001, Hahn was named “America’s Best 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.