What inspired you to learn to play the violin, viola or other instrument?
It's one of the first questions I ask people whom I'm interviewing, because the answer can tell so much. For some people, it's their parents, especially if they have musical parents. They see their parents playing and they want to do the same. Or, it can be a parent who never really had the chance to play, who encouraged and supported their child's lessons. Maybe they enrolled their child before the child was even old enough to think about it, and it turned out to be a lifelong pursuit.
For others, a famous musician might be the inspiration, someone they saw in concert or heard in recordings, who became a kind of role model. And don't discount those appearances that superstar musicians such as Itzhak Perlman, Yo Yo Ma, Hilary Hahn and Joshua Bell have made on Sesame Street or other children's programs -- I've had people tell me that seeing a short segment on a child's show flipped the switch on for them, inspiring them to find this instrument and learn to play it!
Sometimes it's a recording itself -- the music -- regardless of who is playing it, that is the inspiration. And it might simply be a recording of a classical piece, or fiddle music, or musicals, that gets the ball rolling.
Some get their introduction to an instrument from a school program; this was the case with me. The music teacher at my elementary school came around to various classes, recruiting for the orchestra. She brought along a fourth-grader named Sara, who played for us, and I immediately knew that I wanted to play that instrument! A teacher can be very inspiring!
What is your story? Please cast your vote and then let us know in the comments!
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This week we're launching a new feature on Violinist.com called "For the Record," a weekly roundup of new releases of recordings by violinists, violists, cellists and other classical musicians. We hope it helps you keep track of your favorite artists, as well as find some new ones to add to your listening!
Tchaikovsky: Complete Works for Violin and Orchestra
Odense Symphony Orchestra; Alexander Vedernikov, conductor
In 1994, Jennifer Koh won the top prize in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Though she has performed works of Tchaikovsky countless times live, this her first-ever recording of Tchaikovsky works. Besides the famous ("unplayable") Violin Concerto, it also includes Sérénade Mélancolique, Valse-Scherzo, and Souvenir d'un lieu cher (Glazuonov's orchestration). Jennifer Koh plays "Meditation" from Tchaikovsky's "Souvenir d'un lieu cher":
Khachaturian & Glazunov: Violin Concertos
Bochumer Symphoniker; Steven Sloane, conductor
Philippe Quint continues his exploration of Russian repertoire with this new recording of Alexander Glazunov's Violin Concerto, written originally for Leopold Auer; and Aram Khachaturian's Violin Concerto, written for Soviet violinist David Oistrakh. Keep reading...
Music from the Suitcase, nearly three years ago, I immediately started thinking about a direction for my next project. This process was not simple and took many months. While Suitcase explored a collection of Russian miniatures my family brought out of the Soviet Union in the family luggage when I was five, I knew I wanted to pursue a completely different artistic direction.After I released my last album,
I "tried on" various concepts, including albums of specific regions, periods, and composer compilations, but nothing seemed to stick in my mind. One random day, I remembered a t-shirt I had seen as a kid in camp. On it, was printed the famous quote by Hans Christian Andersen, "Where words fail, music speaks." Even at the time, I recall being surprised that a literary author, whose bread and butter came from crafting words together, would be willing to go on record with such a statement. Being the first time I had seen or read that quote, I recall feeling a sense of vindication for my choosing to be a musician!
I suppose this little jolt of memory and inspiration forced me to go back to the basics, as it were, and examine why it is that 15 years later I still dedicate my life to music on a daily basis. Keep reading...
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