July 17, 2010 at 11:08 PM ·


I've read a lot on this site about imitation of famous violinists - I'm almost ashamed to admit that I really don't know many at all! I thought it might be helpful to sort of make a list of people that are recommended to listen to, the best of the best?

Thanks! Han Li

Replies (44)

July 17, 2010 at 11:33 PM ·

Well off the top of my head these are my favorite recording artists:

Christian Ferras, Ginette Neveu, David Oistrakh, Jascha Heifetz, Nathan Milstein, Joseph Hassid, Michael Rabin, Fritz Kreisler, Ida Haendel and Vadim Repin.  

There are many who I'll probably feel bad about not mentioning in a moment but these are the people who I generally listen to the most.

July 18, 2010 at 01:17 AM ·

Han Li:   Lots of great names to explore in the post above and I would very highly recommend that you look out this DVD:

It has clips of the playing of a fine assortment of great violinists and I found it a fascinating and highly enjoyable way to experience and compare their different characters and playing. 

July 18, 2010 at 08:38 AM ·

 Milstein, Kreisler, Menuhin, Heifetz, Oistrakh

They are probably something of the bare minimum everybody should listen intently to.  For Bach I think everybody has heard Szeryng at least once as well.  

July 18, 2010 at 09:05 AM ·


July 18, 2010 at 10:28 AM ·

A great place to start if you don't know many violinists is the "The Art of Violin" DVD documentary by Bruno Monsaingeon. While there are not many complete works presented, it is a great opportunity to hear a large number of the very best performers from the 20th century, with recorded audio recovered and restored from early storage mediums to the best of the producer's available technology at the time.

From there, EMI publishes a variety of DVDs with specific performers featured on each one. One of my favorites is the disc on Nathan Milstein. His Bach, Paganini, Mozart, and Brahms are just fantastic, and being able to *see* him play (and how effortless yet precise he is) is thrilling!

July 18, 2010 at 02:06 PM ·

 If it is purely for listening pleasure all the names of the greats will be repeated on this forum ad nauseum. If you want to improve,  listen to any player that is better than yourself. They can teach you more than dwelling in the stratosphere. Keep your feet on the ground, the moon may be too far.  The hard yards will have to be put in by yourself and your teacher.

I'm battening down the hatches and waiting for the stones.

July 18, 2010 at 08:06 PM ·

Joseph 100% agree!  Kreisler, Milstein, Heifetz, Menuhin and Oistrakh are certainly great great choices!  Not to forget Ida Haendel who is certainly as good as these Mrs!!!


July 18, 2010 at 09:31 PM ·

Don't forget Perlman!

Loved Dion's comment by the way.  Good one.



July 18, 2010 at 10:41 PM ·

Dion - yes.

Apparently, we're throwing rose petals not stones.  You have to try harder :D

July 19, 2010 at 03:33 AM ·

 I second Gene Wie's mention of "The Art Of Violin."  It's a GREAT place to be introduced to the greatest players of all time... and you can watch it over the course of many years and still get something new out of it each time.

July 19, 2010 at 04:05 AM ·


actually I think your point is a very good one.  With an open mind one ca learn from anyone.

Sometimes people throw rocks here too. However, this should not be equated with someone disagreeing with you.   This is a forum for debate,  not preemting debate in any particular way.

As it happens I think your other statement is incorrect and will say so.  The part I refer to is:

>If it is purely for listening pleasure all the names of the greats will be repeated on this forum ad nauseum. If you want to improve,  listen to any player that is better than yourself.

The reaosn I think this is wrong is that in order to be a fine player one must train oneself relentless to have the most beautiful sound concept as  possible.  The importance of this cannot be overstated and the best sounds obviously come form the best players ever.  Quite a few very greta teacher son this site ave made this point over the years.  It is importnat because it can surprisingly often an aspiring violnist does not take the time to listen to the greats because they are too wrapped up in an excess of practice for its own sake.

It`s interesitng thta Heifetz used to fine his Masterclass students for failing to attend and (presumably) learn from a visiting great.  One might also note that Auer notes in his little book that he did much of his learning from hearing as many of the master players of his day as possible.

I hope you don@t interet this as throwing st¥ones.  I just happen to disagree. That`s all.



July 19, 2010 at 11:24 AM ·

Elise lol, even stones from you will seem like rose petals.   

(I do not know what lol means but I assume it is not offensive).

Personally I like listening to Perlman and Zuckerman because of  their beautiful sound.

Every one else sounds amazing to me. The Japanese, Chinese and Koreans have really impressed me with their technical skill. They are up there with the best and if I could tell their names apart I would list them too.

I always thought of Menuhin as one of the absolute greats but he seems to have flown under the radar for most people. Was playing jazz and other genres the kiss of death for him?


July 19, 2010 at 02:16 PM ·

 I switched on the radio now and heard Midori playing Sarasate with piano accompaniment and was bowled over once again. I am still trying to get my jaw in place. Such musicality must come from another world. Why is the latest recording I hear always the greatest? 

I would hate to be a judge, the last guy up would always be the winner.

July 19, 2010 at 02:52 PM ·

This is a decent starting point. They have two lists from the recording era, one from the twentieth century, and one contemporary (i.e., today). From the first list I would recommend (in alphabetical order, not order of greatness; that is subjective): Elman, Enescu, Ferras, Francescatti, Grumiaux, Hassid, Heifetz, Hirschhorn, Huberman, Kogan, Kreisler, Menuhin, Milstein, Neveu, Oistrakh, Rabin, Stern, Szeryng, Szigeti, and Thibaud (if you buy Art of the Violin you will see most of these players). If you're not familiar with any of them, I'd personally say the top five to seek out are Heifetz, Kreisler, Milstein, Oistrakh, and Rabin, but other people here would have a "top five." From the second list (once again, alphabetical order, not order of preference): Bell, Chang, Kyung Wha Chung, Ehnes, Fischer, Hahn, Midori, Haendel, Jansen, Josefowicz, Kavakos, Mintz, Mutter, Perlman, Barton Pine, Repin, Ricci, Salerno-Sonnenberg, Shaham, and Vengerov. Once again, people will argue over the top five to listen out for, but if I was in charge of the list, I'd say Ehnes, Hahn, Kavakos, Perlman, and Shaham.

So there you go. Go to youtube and try Heifetz, Kreisler, Milstein, Oistrakh, Rabin, Ehnes, Hahn, Kavakos, Perlman, and Shaham. ;) "Rating" violinists is not a game I like to play because we all have our own subjective feelings, but I don't think anyone would disagree that anyone I put in that list of ten is not a world-class artist. And you have to start somewhere, right? We can't fit all of our favorites in, and that's my personal list. It's a start, leastways. Soon you'll be able to make your own personal list of favorites, I promise!

And I agree that one has to start listening to the best violinists, and differentiating between "really good local violinists" and "world-class artists." You can still love and appreciate and get incredible joy out of the first group, but I think when it comes to training your ear, more often than not you will learn the most from the latter group. Especially if you have the opportunity to see them perform live. I think if I had seen live performances when I was first playing the violin - or even had youtube to watch the great violinists - I would have taken my studies a lot seriously a lot earlier.

Happy listening...

July 19, 2010 at 03:39 PM ·

It is a shame that nobody mentioned Mr. Gidon Kremer, who has a huge discography to his credit. Salvatore Accardo is great for Paganini.

July 19, 2010 at 03:41 PM ·

And don't forget to hear Sarasate by Sarasate and Kreisler by Kreisler.

July 19, 2010 at 06:20 PM ·

@John Cadd 

"... Who else can give you a jazz version of the Bach double concerto..."

That idea came from Stéphane Grappelli and Eddie South, who recorded it with Django Reinhardt:

July 19, 2010 at 07:51 PM ·


John,  I`d just listened to Menuhin playing the Scherzo Tarantella before I read your post.  I agree with Dion that heseems to slip under the radar somewhat. That version is for me ,  superior to Heifetz,  Milstein et al by some distance.  Ironic that one of the great musically thinking viloinists shoudl be so bloody good at a piece which was never intended ot be the intellectual event of the epoch.



July 19, 2010 at 11:14 PM ·

Today: Kremer, Mutter, Ehnes, Hahn, Fisher, Barton Pine and among the new comers, Benjamin Beilman and Augustin Hadelich.

The past ones: Kreisler, Oistrach,Toscha Seidel, Heifetz, Ginette Neveu, Hishorn, Kogan, Milstein, Grumiaux.

These are my favorites.


July 20, 2010 at 12:23 AM ·

 Glad to see someone mentioned Kogan.  How about Szeryng or Szigeti?

July 20, 2010 at 01:19 AM ·

Both were great artists!!!

July 21, 2010 at 11:11 PM ·


John, that`s beautiful.   Note that Vanessa Mae doing a just passable job of the Bach e major prelude gets 1 473 913.  I suppose its 914 now....



July 24, 2010 at 10:29 PM ·

Alexander Markov, Hilary Hahn, Mark Wood.

July 31, 2010 at 02:01 AM ·

Joshua bell, sarah chang, Hilary hahn, stern, anne-sophie,,,,what was her full name? Im not a big fan of david garret however

July 31, 2010 at 02:11 AM ·

Has anyone mentioned Barnabas Kelemen? He's a very interesting violinist, winner of one of the Indianapolis International Violin Competitions, has a DVD available of all the Mozart Concerti and the Sinfonia Concertante with his wife.

August 24, 2010 at 06:06 PM ·

 John - who is Erich Gruenberg? I can not find him on YouTube.  Can you send a link. Thanks

August 24, 2010 at 06:55 PM ·

Just look at all of the major competition winners. Akiko Suwanai is one of my favorites.

September 16, 2010 at 05:42 PM ·

My favorites are Vasco Abadjiev, Heifetz and Franceskati. But Vasco my be is the best!!


September 16, 2010 at 08:34 PM ·

first on my list, i must say, would be Hulk Hogan

then, if we use the utubed chaconnes to make a triad:

but this is bach, francescatti does a most beautiful vitali. but the man does not play violin, he sings it; i think you have to be come from a lyrical culture to sing that beautifully :o)


September 17, 2010 at 08:56 PM ·

After looking through this list has anyone mentioned; Joseph Gingold, Arnold Stienhardt, John Dalley, Chloe Hanslip, Mark O'Connor, A. Grumiaux, Alma Moodie, Kathleen Parlow??????

September 19, 2010 at 04:59 PM ·

Can we add Oscar Schumsky, Aaron Rosand, and Franco Gulli?

September 19, 2010 at 07:49 PM ·

A friend sent me a hyperlink to a list of 10 ,essential greats to know.


September 19, 2010 at 08:50 PM ·

 While trawling through youtube, I found:

Maria Thoman

Wolfgang Schneiderhan

Edited to add: Ralph Evans

September 19, 2010 at 08:54 PM ·

All the great ones, search youtube and study them.

October 25, 2010 at 07:05 AM ·

There are a lot of great violinists that you should listen to.

Just to mention some of them: Heifetz, Oistrach, Milstein, Rabin, Perlman, Kogan, Szeryng, Repin, Quint, Markov, Francescatti, Ricci, Krylov and there are many many others.


October 25, 2010 at 07:35 AM ·

I think someone forgot to mention Anna Karkowska!

October 25, 2010 at 08:38 AM ·

There was a young lady Karkowsky

In need of frontal lobotomy

Her posture is fine

With confidence divine

But her hand vibrates like springs on jelly 

October 26, 2010 at 04:24 AM ·

Too funny, Jim.  Just had the though that six months from now, when that rollicking Karkowska thread from the weekend recedes from memory, some poor soul is going to chance upon this thread and hit upon your Karkowska recommendation. Karkowska?  Who is this great violinist I've never heard of?  A name uttered alongside such luminaries as Milstein and Oistrakh? How curious.  And then (oh my oh my), he or she will proceed innocently to youtube or perhaps even purchase her masterwork "vituosity" (assuming it actually becomes available).....and perhaps it will give rise to another befuddled and head-scratching post on Karkowska's merits...and we'll get to do it all again. Karkowska rules!

October 26, 2010 at 04:24 AM ·

October 26, 2010 at 04:59 AM ·

Ysaye, Kreisler, Sarasate, Seidel, Heifetz, Maude Powell, Thibaud, Enesco and many others. Birthday earlier than 1905 is almost a benchmark. Almost everyone on that list can be heard on Youtube.

Birthday from 1915-1935 can be interesting. After that not too much. 


Listened to Karkowska the other night with my teacher. It reminded him of The Schmenges from The Last Polka so we watched some of that on Youtube. Yes indeed.

October 26, 2010 at 05:18 PM ·

I enjoy listening to Joshua Bell, Gidon Kremer, Gil Shaham, Shilomo Mintz, Anne Sophie Mutter , and (although he's not famous) Ivan Zenaty.

October 26, 2010 at 05:48 PM ·

Luigi Alberto Bianchi (also a great violist).  Amongst numerous other recordings he has recorded on 9 CDs nearly all of Paganini's duets for violin and guitar – it's mp3 downloadable from Amazon.

The late Oscar Shumsky. Downloading from YouTube his performance of Rode's 24 Caprices is a must.

October 27, 2010 at 03:08 PM ·

Ooh, John, I like him!  I'm listening to him play Havanaise right now.  Thanks for pointing him out.

October 30, 2010 at 08:02 AM ·

I love watching violin competitions, especially the live broadcasts.  These young violinists represent the best of the new generation.   They play with so much heart, and awesome techniques.   If you haven't watched any, you're missing something precious.  Start with the most recent one, IVCI 2010 at Indianapolis.

Start with Clara-Jumi Kang's and Soyoung Yoon's finals on Sept 24 and 25, and work your way back.  There is a treasure trove of performances by them and others.

There are lots of other competitions that were broadcast on the internet: Queen Elisabeth, Hannover, Menuhin, Michael Hill.  And many more to come.

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