What would you ask Hilary Hahn?

October 18, 2007 at 04:08 AM · I'm delighted to report that Hilary has joined us as a member of Violinist.com!

I'm going to be interviewing her in the next few days, since she is giving a recital here in southern California this Friday. I'll be chatting with her about her upcoming album (Schoenberg/Sibelius) with Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting in Stockholm.

Of course, this is all for you guys. So tell me, what are your questions for her?

Replies (62)

October 18, 2007 at 04:16 AM · OMG! She's my favorite violinist of all times! I'm so excited! Welcome, Hilary!

October 18, 2007 at 05:30 AM · I love you Hilary!

Please send me an autographed picture. I saw you and Josh in Greensboro, and having driven 5 hours was way too exhausted to wait and get your autograph. The Partita CD rocks!

I wrote to your label, but I guess the mail is backlogged.

General Delivery,

War WV 24892

p.s. Your practice advice is my mantra.

p.s.s. Please forgive Buri in advance--he will say something about prunes shortly.

p.s.s.s: the question:

I think I remember you saying somewhere that had it not been violin, it might of been any of a number of instruments. If this is so, what are your thoughts on musicality and how it evolves?

October 18, 2007 at 04:23 AM · Greetings,

that`s wonderful. I hope she is goign to be able to live with the ocassional very personal columns.

Do you think she has ome good recipes with prunes to share with me?



PS Hilary I think your Paginini recording is a truly great artistic achievement. But I am really pissed off that your Shostakovitch (?Iforget)was released on a Sony disc that requires a differnet cdplayer. Luddites such as myself don`t know about these things. Please don`t do it again.;)

Sorry -Question

What would you advise a violnist who wanted a larger tone to do?

What scales do you practice and how?

Which violnist has influenced you the most?

October 18, 2007 at 04:25 AM · When not busy with the violin, what are some of your hobbies?

October 18, 2007 at 04:40 AM · Ahh! She is one of my FAVORITE violinists. Actually, I guess I can use second-person here since you are presumably reading this. I love your solo Bach recording! It's one of the CDs that made me decide to become a professional violinist, and I still listen to it all the time. Anyway, questions.... let's see...

Who is your favorite musician (classical or otherwise) living today?

Who is your favorite living composer?

What career (other than music) would you like to try?

Would you like to be on faculty at a music school/conservatory some day?

and the most important one:

Want to play a duet with me on my Master's recital next year?

October 18, 2007 at 05:10 AM · Which violinist have inspired you?

October 18, 2007 at 05:56 AM · Besides classical music, what types of music and artists do you like to listen to?

I'm always interested in this question, because I've asked many violinists and the answers have always surprised me (Josh Bell and 50 Cent, Sarah Chang loves Beyonce, and Rachel Bartine_Pine loves heavy metal...etc)

October 18, 2007 at 05:59 AM · Here's another one,

For what reasons have you kept your Vuillaume throughout all these years? Have you performed and played with any other violin (maker?) besides your current Vuillaume? and could you describe the characteristics of your violin that constantly win you over time and time again?

October 18, 2007 at 09:02 AM · What a great opportunity for us! Thanks a lot for taking your time!!

Soloists used to be stigmatised, sometimes in a very personal way. These are like urban legends, which are repeated over and over again (player X plays with german efficiency, player Y has technical problems, player Z has nothing but a pretty face and plays Bach sometimes etc.) - how annoying is that for an artist like you, and does it affect your art (e. g. choice of repertoire)?

What was your biggest artistic nightmare on stage yet (memory slip, conductors etc.)?

Is chamber music important for you?

Do you have must-exercises per day (let's say 15 minutes) and which are they?

What was the dumbest question you'd ever been asked in an interview?

You recorded a CD for kids (some snippets and a video here) - what are your suggestions to introduce kids into classical music?

You're playing on the highest niveau - which technical detail troubles first, if you don't work on it constantly?

October 18, 2007 at 06:08 AM · I notice she likes playing Ernst's works quite a bit. I was wondering if she has ever played Ernst's F# minor concerto.

Also I'd me interested to know of any daily etudes/scale routines she does.

October 18, 2007 at 06:40 AM · Ok, here are a few that I don't see listed yet...

What pieces do you most love to perform, and why?

What pieces did you hate learning, and why?

If you had to give up the violin for another instrument (which you would play equally magnificently), which would it be?

What chamber music do you enjoy playing?

October 18, 2007 at 01:56 PM · What are you planning to record next?

Are the Bach Sonatas for Violin and Keyboard in the works?

October 18, 2007 at 08:59 AM · How aware are you of what your peers ie Julia, Sarah, Josh etc are doing, and does it in any way affect your own programming/recording schedules?

October 18, 2007 at 09:05 AM · I know that currently she plays a violin by Villaume .

Does she think to use a different one in the future or however does she use different violins in some circumstances?

One more question:

Do you think to bring to this site just ads of your concerts or also (hopefully) a technical and interpretative contribution partecipating at the discussions?

Hi Hilary welcome to this crazy community ;)

October 18, 2007 at 09:12 AM · Who are the contemporary italian violinists that you appreciate more?

October 18, 2007 at 09:27 AM · Ah an Inconvenient question:

Why did you play for Pope Ratzinger, just for work or do you agree (hopefully not) with the stupid things that man says?

October 18, 2007 at 12:01 PM · How many recordings do you have that aren't available in the United States?

October 18, 2007 at 11:53 AM · This is wonderful news! Welcome Ms. Hahn!

Considering her integrity as a musician and violinist, I would be interested in asking two questions...

First, how does Ms. Hahn evolve towards her conception of a work of music as she prepares it for a performance, or for a recording (which is different)?

Secondly, since she to be able to sustain such wonderful consistency in performance both technically and musically, does she have suggestions or ideas on things she finds important for being able to do so?

The last thing for me would be to thank her for all that she has brought to us as an artist!!!

Cheers to Ms. Hahn!

P.S. On a personal note, I hope that an event like this will finally convince those who make comments that are less than commendable about world-class performers on this site to reconsider their attitudes...

October 18, 2007 at 12:08 PM · Excellent and welcome!

I'd like to know how she approaches practice for a performance piece she hasn't played before vs something she has performed before. And her strategy for general practice, and how she divides her focus in practice sessions.

October 18, 2007 at 12:20 PM · 1. Does she have a set technical or warm-up routine that she regularly does prior to practicing repertoire?

2. Having been interviewed often, she's probably been asked certain questions time and again. Is there anything not previous covered that SHE would like to discuss?

October 18, 2007 at 12:35 PM · I would ask her to marry me. Please pass on the message.


October 18, 2007 at 01:18 PM · My daughter absolutely loves Hilary Hahn. Her recordings were some of the first that she has listened to.

What advice would you give to young students who want to become violin performers? Schools? teachers?

Looking back at your career, knowing what you know now, what would you change or do different?

October 18, 2007 at 01:23 PM · I would love to hear her fav Jascha Brodsky story...

October 18, 2007 at 01:22 PM · Hi Hilary! I'm going to see you in Oberlin later this year. :) You will loooove playing in Finney Chapel, it's gorgeous. :)

One thing I would be interested to hear your take on is, as Christian mentioned, the frequent disagreements about top violinists on this site! Or maybe just in general, what is your reaction to negative criticism? How do you handle it; do you see negative criticism as coming in useful varieties and useless ones; etc.?

October 18, 2007 at 01:42 PM · Welcome.

October 18, 2007 at 01:55 PM · WONDERFUL news! Hilary has become one of my favorite musicians, made more so after watching Deutche Grammophon's excellent Hilary Hahn, a Portrait. An artist who's a true role model to today's kids, musicians and non-musicians alike, and I'm so impressed at how she's willing to reach out to communities (this one now too!) and share her skills and her message.

I love that she plays a Vuillaume, and would love to hear anything she has to say about it (ie - what she likes most about it, what she feels it offers over a Strad, etc...)

October 18, 2007 at 03:29 PM · Two questions: 1) For those still learning, what are your thoughts on coaxing tone and expression from a violin?

2) Which Harry Potter book is your favorite?

By the way, you are an inspiration to many, including my daughter who plays in chamber orchestra in middle school.

October 18, 2007 at 04:14 PM · These are great questions! Thanks you guys; I'll keep you posted on this.

Will I be seeing anyone at her recital tomorrow night?

October 18, 2007 at 04:17 PM · "Will I be seeing anyone at her recital tomorrow night?"

I wish!!!! Watching her bow arm, has helped me immeasurably. Every time I start getting wild with the notes, that image brings my bow back into focus.

October 18, 2007 at 04:35 PM · Only if you can move it to Boulder :( it's the end of the school quarter and I'm crazy busy at work

Re: wedding proposal: I thought we were welcoming Hilary not scaring her!!!!

October 18, 2007 at 05:06 PM · Heard you play the Schoenberg concerto in Gotheburg, Hilary, and your playing was amazing.

Will you record it in the near future?

Will the diary on your official site be updated soon?

I would love to hear you perform more contemporary music, Like the Ginastera concerto and Offertorium perhaps.

October 18, 2007 at 06:34 PM · Laurie,

Please ask her about her violin(s). I saw her with Valentina Lisitsa Tuesday night at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley. Her tone was exquisite. My favorite pieces of the evening were the Franck A Major Sonata and the Ysaÿe 5th Sonata for Unaccompanied Violin.

Thanks, Marty

October 18, 2007 at 07:27 PM · Q: What subjects other than music have you studied that you feel contribute significantly to your development as an artist and musician?

October 18, 2007 at 07:52 PM · Does she plan on writing an autobiography in the future?

What does she mean when she says mathematical equations can help interpretation?

Be sure to tell us the results of the interview! :) Thanks

October 18, 2007 at 07:56 PM · Hi Hilary,

I am so pleased that you have joined violinist.com. Welcome. I would like to know what advice would you give to violinists in search of the perfect violin in lieu of budgetary constraints which limit buying. My current violin is $1300, and truthfully I get to levels where the violin will just not perform in technically challenging pieces of music. I feel that a violin must work with your spirit and inspire you. When one hears a rich, beautiful, clear and balanced tone, you know it. How would you deal with luthiers in something like this or is that $1300 dream violin an elusive dream?

October 18, 2007 at 08:41 PM · Is Ms Hahn going to paricipate in the forum or only going to give an inetrview?

October 18, 2007 at 09:32 PM · "I thought we were welcoming Hilary not scaring her!!!! "

Maybe it's not scary the 500th time. Welcome! I don't have any questions...yet.

October 18, 2007 at 10:02 PM · Laurie,

One of the things I truly love about this site is the opportunity to rub shoulders with some real top level performers and players, to trade thoughts and interact.

I have no questions for Hillary, I just want to welcome her to this fabuluous network of people.



October 18, 2007 at 10:15 PM · Laurie,

I live in Venice and wish I had know about the recital two weeks ago. I have an engaugement to perform at a dinner party the same night. otherwise I would have loved to go to the rectial. Who knows when Ms. Hahn will be Southern California again...

October 18, 2007 at 10:15 PM · I have a question for Hilary Hahn. Will she come to Boston to give a recital on the Luis and Clark carbon fiber violin in the near future (i.e. within 5 years)?

October 18, 2007 at 10:13 PM · Wow!! I'm pretty late to jump on the bandwagon here, but welcome to violinist.com, Hilary! I had tickets to see your concert in Columbia, MO and was really disappointed to hear it had been snowed out. I hope you have some concerts in the midwest soon.

My question is:

What is your favorite way to warm up before a performance?

October 18, 2007 at 11:13 PM · Wow. I just saw H.H. and pianist Valentina Lisitsa perform in a recital @ Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, CA. two nights ago. A local wag at the San Francisco Chronicle cited H.H.'s "extraordinary technique, intellectual resourcefulness and emotional eloquence," yet he noted "lapses in intonation" and "awkwardness." How dare he! Please let H.H. know that, though nice person the local critic might be, that he has cotton in his ears and that her performance as well as V.L.'s was stupendous and her Ysaye unaccompanied violin piece left the audience gasping for air as her musicality and her bow technique were nothing short of stunning.

Please ask her if she is going to record Vivaldi's Four Seasons anytime in the future and being a great genius and technician of the violin if she would ever compose much like other violinists like Ysaye. Thank you!

October 19, 2007 at 12:22 AM · Question to HH:

When are you coming down-under (to Australia) ?

October 19, 2007 at 12:34 AM · "Care to join me for dinner?"

October 19, 2007 at 02:17 AM · For those on the East Coast, Hilary will be at beautiful Brevard College on Novemeber 1....

God! I wish I could go!.

October 19, 2007 at 01:30 AM · WOW! I love her...

October 19, 2007 at 02:14 AM · Does she have perfect pitch?

October 19, 2007 at 03:55 AM · Hi everyone,

I just talked with her, what a lovely person. I wasn't able to ask ALL of your questions, even though she was very generous with her time! You can look for the interview in the next day or so.


October 19, 2007 at 04:34 AM · Even though the interview has already concluded, I want to thank you, Hilary Hahn, for inspiring so many people with your performances, recordings, DVD, and website. I'm also glad that you pay so much attention to children and music. I hope you will contribute to our discussions some times. You have so many experiences and so much insight to share. A very warm welcome to v.com.

I can't wait to read the interview. Thanks for doing this, Laurie.

October 19, 2007 at 04:43 AM · I would ask my standard question that I imagine asking all great violinists- Could you please tell me in detail about your early training (say, first three years)?

But alas, I'm too late...

October 19, 2007 at 09:02 AM · Hilary if you do read this, I want you to know that you are responsible for my picking up the violin eight years after quitting it in college. Thank you for coming to Alaska to play; had you not, I honestly can't imagine how different my life would be. Since I heard your performance nearly four years ago, I've joined the symphony, perform regularly, and keep a studio of thirty students. You can't even imagine how many people's lives you've changed here when you played.

Thank you.

October 19, 2007 at 11:23 AM · Hello from the guy in Shanghai who once asked you which violin you play (after your flawless recital). Your autograph is treasured. And, you are an inspriation for my daughter. Thanks!

October 19, 2007 at 04:12 PM · I would ask her if she would like one of my violins.

October 19, 2007 at 05:57 PM · Wow! A busy work schedule kept me away from V.com for a few days and what a joy to return to this news! Can't wait to read the interview, Laurie!

Hilary, you are a true inspiration to me, both as a violinist and a person.

October 19, 2007 at 06:27 PM · I was just looking at her website, and she has a feature there called "student essays," a collection written by middle school students when she visited their school in 2004. The essays are very well-written, mature, and quite sweet. I especially liked the one that describes the kid's quest for a teacher, trying two that didn't work out before he found the one he's still with 9 years later.

Well, it turns out that this middle school that Hilary visited, "Chenery Middle School near Boston," is a 10-minute walk from my house, and is where my daughter will be attending two years from now! In 2004, I had no idea Hilary was in the area, let alone visiting the middle school. So, my question is, Hilary, would you be willing to come back to Chenery in 2009?

October 20, 2007 at 04:18 AM · Ah... Too bad I'm too late as well. Otherwise, I would've asked to have one of Tommy Atkinson's questions expanded a little from:

"What career (other than music) would you like to try?"


"What career (other than music) would you choose if you had the talent and opportunity?"

In an interview for my 2nd full-time job as a computer programmer (w/ a traditional computer science background) back in the early/mid-90's, one interesting interviewer asked me that question. And my reply was either a top concert violinist or a top professional baseball pitcher. ;-) At the time, I had almost zero music training, but started toying w/ the idea of taking up the violin (some day) after delving into western classical music for a few years as an admirer/listener -- well, I did love the sound of bowed stringed instruments since childhood, but did not become an avid listener of western classical until the end of my college days.

Was very interesting to learn that Bach and mathematics aren't all that far apart -- and my sense of intuition for both music and math/science really agrees w/ such notions at various levels even though I'm far from being an expert at either. :-p And then, there's baseball too. Who was it that talked about baseball "as a metaphor for life"? :-p

Anyway, would've been fascinating to get such insights into such a great violinist as Ms. Hahn.

And yes, a very warm welcome to v.com, Ms. Hahn!


October 20, 2007 at 07:39 AM · And now for the question everyone forgot to ask: Where do you buy those one-hundred-yards-long bows, Ms Hahn?

I want one too!

A very warm welcome to you.

October 20, 2007 at 02:22 PM · I'd ask her how long she's going to be at IU Bloomington on the 3rd and if she'll come to a party if I throw one for her after her concert :)

Or maybe she doesn't party?

October 20, 2007 at 02:38 PM · OK, I've got kind of a silly question, Hilary: who is YOUR favorite violinist? :) (currently living and of all time.)

October 20, 2007 at 03:57 PM · She was really reluctant to answer those kinds of questions, "your favorite" so-and-so. I think she is open minded enough to have different favorites for different reasons and occasions. But I tried to pin down what her current favorite pop tune was, and she masterfully evaded the question! ;)

She had so very much to say that I want to share; she was really generous with her time. It's taking me a while to transcribe the 50-min interview and get it in shape for you guys. I've put up a review of her concert and will give you guys the interview ASAP, probably tomorrow or Monday!

October 20, 2007 at 04:02 PM · Looking forward to reading it. I hope you're not implying, though, that it's closed-minded to have a favorite violinist (or two or three)??

October 20, 2007 at 05:41 PM · how do you reach such a high level of concentration in a performance that allows you to play with such perfection?

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