Anna Karkowska II

December 14, 2010 at 12:19 AM ·

 Look, if you go to this Youtube page, all the comments have been "air-brushed" away, so the only remaining ones are things like "She's better than Hilary Hahn!" and "Greater than Heifetz.? She is the next superstar on the violin. Thank you Anna for sharing your music with the world!"

I also had thought this one was taken down, but whew, it's still up, with its mathematical explanation of why she's "greater than Heifetz": 

Replies (83)

December 14, 2010 at 12:48 AM ·

I hadn't seen this, thanks, I laughed til I cried!

December 14, 2010 at 02:40 AM ·

Fabulous! Truly miraculous! Transformational! I could see again what I had eaten many, many hours prior to watching the video – a gastronomic time travel machine...

"Thanks" to recordings and the internet this delusional narcissistic obscene aberration will be available for generations to enjoy when parties need a second wind. Maybe NO taste is better than BAD taste, after all...

December 14, 2010 at 03:01 AM ·







"One stands out." 


She needs to sit down and never record anything again.



December 14, 2010 at 04:36 AM ·

I believe I've seen her perform live.  Her playing isn't bad, but it certainly is obscured by the ridonkulous vibrato.

I thought this video was clearly satirical?  Am I wrong?

December 14, 2010 at 05:04 AM ·

Ya know, I know a neurologist that could cure that for her.... maybe then I could stand to listen to the whole clip!

December 14, 2010 at 05:29 AM ·

 Okay, if you didn't watch the above video until you saw a pie chart, you didn't watch long enough. Really now! If you can't stand to hear the playing (understandable), just start at 1:42 for the good stuff.

This video was actually taken down for a while, which, combined with the scrubbing of all negative comments from the original, was what I found to be a bit Orwellian. There are some other satirical videos, too, but this one tickles me because of the "statistics" and over-the-top hyperbole which matches the over-the-top hyperbole in the original PR piece.

December 14, 2010 at 06:02 AM ·

in this one you will learn how she learned the vibrato at the age of 6.

December 14, 2010 at 06:38 AM ·

 I know, that one made my sides hurt from laughing, it's just totally silly!

December 14, 2010 at 10:43 AM ·

OK I started to watch this determined to have an open mind.  Well, I think I succeeded in keeping my open mind but could not control my open mouth, not my open tear ducts.

The question that springs to mind is: since when was music defined by mechanical measures?  I have yet to hear anything from the Worlds Best Vibrato that pleases my ear.

However, it does beg the question - is there any form of violin playing that would benefit from such an extreme (and gratented micro-atheletic) vibrato?  Two forms come to mind - gypsy and indian sitar music. 

Else what is pojected in that video (if it is indeed serious and not a spoof - but her participation seems sadly to favor the former is) is a circus freak-show - the 'woman with the beard', the 'two headed man' and now I present: 'sea-sickness vibrato'. 

December 14, 2010 at 11:04 AM ·

It is a kind of vibrato that I call the Blues vib, and Regina Carter uses it in this clip:-

Stuff Smith used it, as have done many jazzers.

I apply it very sparingly. VERY sparingly.


December 14, 2010 at 11:32 AM ·

Are there any plans for Anna K performing with Sir Roger Norrington?

December 14, 2010 at 12:52 PM ·

Graham - that was fabulous.  I had never heard Regina play before.  She MUST be classically trained (look at that bow arm) but what terrific constraint with expression.  And the vibrato is entirely in sync with the playing/music.  Fantastic - I'm a new fan!

But one could hardly imagine a bigger difference than to the subject of this topic....

December 14, 2010 at 02:30 PM ·

Laurie, you've interviewed so many of  today's greatest violinists -- Mutter, Hahn, Bell, Fischer -- but one blazing star has so far failed to streak -- like a naked runner at a 1970s basketball game --  across the sky.  

In the vast world of living and dead violinists, she stands alone. Completely alone.  A woman whose  talent and skill  boggles the mind. 

Oh, please, pretty please, would you interview Anna Karkowska for  

I'm sure we all would accord this Florence Foster Jenkins of the violin world all of the respect and admiration that she deserves.     

December 14, 2010 at 03:45 PM ·

Uncle Norman weighs in:


From The Strad, December 2010:

"The controversy centres on whether her project is an elaborate post-modern hoax, a brilliant boomerang joke, or whether pitch control is no longer relevant in playing the violin."


December 14, 2010 at 04:18 PM ·

 If you were in the LSO, how would you keep from laughing during a recording session?  I feel like there should be respect between soloist and orchestra, but if I were a tutti violinist, I would not have been proud to be in this project. 

December 14, 2010 at 04:26 PM ·

Elise, I was just pointing out the similarities between the two Mss vibrati


December 14, 2010 at 06:58 PM ·

 @ Michael Divino - Have you watched the documentary all the way through, just watching the orchestra players in the background? They roll their eyes - bite their lips - cringe - make total "WTF" expressions at their stand partners... It's totally worth watching the documentary just to watch the musicians in the background.

And for those of you wondering if this is real or's real. I have it on good authority.

December 14, 2010 at 07:46 PM ·

 I'm sure this is a hoax-- it's all in fun, a satire.

December 14, 2010 at 08:53 PM ·

But Florence Foster Jenkins was no hoax...

December 14, 2010 at 08:57 PM ·

Lending some credence to the "hoax" (or as I prefer to think of it, The Spinal Tap) theory, Ms. Karkowska's biography states that the Stradivari Society has loaned her the Sennhauser Guarneri. The Stradivari Society lists that violin -- which has previously been on loan to the likes of Leila Josephowicz , Gil Shaham, Maxim Vengerov and Sarah Chang -- as currently in the hands of Emily Hyun. 


December 14, 2010 at 09:19 PM ·

 It's an elaborate piece of "performance" art, utilizing the internet to fuel the hoax; those who believe the hoax are unwitting participants in the project/social experiment. Well, that's my theory. How could this be anything but a joke? If we thought she were sincere, it would be uncomfortable to laugh at her. There is a difference between laughing with genuine derision and laughing at satire. 

December 14, 2010 at 09:27 PM ·

Anna Karkowska is also on the Stradivari Society's list of recipients.....

December 14, 2010 at 09:41 PM ·

i think it's funny that violinists would be insulted by this performance. I would like to see some accomplished violinists duplicate the performance. I bet they would find it quite challenging.

I really don't understand why if someone doesn't follow the regimented, played a thousand times classical pieces, that they are a rotten violinist - and to suggest she put down the violin of all things. Let's have some fun once in a while, play outside the box for a day - have fun. It's obvious she's having fun.

I'm gonna go practice my regimented music, because I want to play well, but I will give 10 or 15 minutes to "fiddling" and having some fun.

Thanks for listening to me and,

Happy Bowing


December 14, 2010 at 09:47 PM ·

I forgot about the vibrato. Why is half inch vibrato wrong and bad? I'm sure she can do a technically correct vibrato.

Happy Bowing,


December 14, 2010 at 09:53 PM ·

Thanks, Graham. You're right. I missed that in my quick search for the violin she claims to play -- her name is indeed listed as a recipient, though not of what specific instrument.  Which makes one wonder who, exactly, and in what state of mind they would assign a priceless violin to Ms. Karkowska -- if she really plays the way she plays on that DVD.  I don't know if that info bolsters the case for hoax or not.  Maybe. The whole thing boggles the mind.   

December 14, 2010 at 09:59 PM ·

The webpage for the "Sennhauser" Guarneri of the Stradivari Society is not up-to-date, nor is the list of past recipients complete. The current recipient is Ilya Kaler, not Emily Hyun.  There is no evidence to suggest that Anna Karkowska is not a past recipient.

December 14, 2010 at 10:00 PM ·

 "...or whether pitch control is no longer relevant in playing the violin."

I get to hear a good number of people who would like this to be true! Certainly would help making preparing for auditions less stressful. :)

December 14, 2010 at 10:28 PM ·


I don`t understand why everyone has missed the crucial point so beautifully expressed in the documentary provided ta the beginning of this thread:   `the use of a vibrato that offers a choice of three differnet notes is fundamentally democratic.  Not only does this offer us more politically correct versions of a given work,  it also allows for significant progress  in human creativity.   To whit,  if the listener selects from those three notes those that were never present in the score a whole new , hitherto undicovered work is manifested.   I feel this point deserves a great deal more emphasis.   It is the next logical step in the process of transcription IE the soloist can offer a personalized cocnerto based on the Beethoven cocnerto. One can even integrate ones name with the new work. Thus we might have the Burioven cocnerto,  the Burihms,   the Moburi and so on.

I for one am excited by his unexpected development in the violin world.



December 14, 2010 at 11:17 PM ·

@Emily Liz - "Have you watched the documentary all the way through, just watching the orchestra players in the background? They roll their eyes - bite their lips - cringe - make total "WTF" expressions at their stand partners... It's totally worth watching the documentary just to watch the musicians in the background." - surely this is all part of the hoax?

Well, I (like others) was fooled the first time round in the previous "Anna K" thread. After watching the vids that Laurie posted, I just laughed .. but I have to say for a publicity stunt (or whatever you want to call it) it does seem quite bizarre. As Graham Clark pointed out, full-tone, finger-sliding vibrato can have its place in certain types of music. As for Anna's vibrato, it's just plain silly, and  sounds atrocious too. A lot of the time she's not even contacting the fingerboard with her vibrato finger.

I said this before : I think she does have an incredible technique, and it's a pity that there's such a difference between what she is obviously capable of, and what does does now. It would be nice to hear her play "properly".

December 14, 2010 at 11:31 PM ·

 While I agree that is good to branch out into new styles (Hilary Hahn, Regina Carter, Anne Akiko Meyers)  I think we can all agree that you must first SOUND GOOD.  


Anna K. does not sound good.  

December 14, 2010 at 11:34 PM ·

Y Cheung, exactly!  One of the few verifiable facts online is that she, in fact, was at some point a recipient of a violin from the Strad Society.  And that simple fact, when merged with the quality of her playing, is enough to cause entire world views to crumble. 

December 15, 2010 at 12:59 AM ·

I hear many singers  who sound like this to me.

Is Anna K emulating that?


December 15, 2010 at 01:14 AM ·

or vice versa?

December 15, 2010 at 04:40 AM ·


rates Anna Karkowska the same as Vanessa Mae. I disagree. I can listen to Vanessa Mae while Anna Karkowska playing makes me cringe and makes me stop the recording. Some of Vanessa Mae's tunes are entertaining and fun to watch and on top of that she's not pretending to be the best violinist ever.

December 15, 2010 at 07:58 AM ·

If only Schoenberg had realised ther infinate possibilities of the three note choice his music would have taken on three dimensions.Great version of Verklaerte Nacht.A vibrating chamber orchestra gives the listener multiple choicesd, not only of the melodic line but also the harmonic line.We can now consider not only quarter tones but eighth tones.This really expanda the oprions of future composers.

December 15, 2010 at 01:24 PM ·

Graham, good point about some singers' wide vibrato (it irritates me intensely .. but I can't think of any examples offhand).

There still appears to be some disagreement in Miss K's intentions / playing standard, so let's poll! Is she :

A  - playing (to our ears) badly, and being serious about her playing, having extremely unconventional ideas about how vibrato should sound?

B - playing (to our ears) badly, and doing it as a total spoof, whilst actually being perfectly capable of executing standard, skilful, classical vibrato, thus avoiding messing up the adjacent notes just before and just after said vibrato? Simply answer A or B ...

December 15, 2010 at 03:09 PM ·

 Has it occurred to us that the real Anna K could be part of the joke-- kind of like a latter-day Peter Schickele? It's been pointed out that she is a technically accomplished violinist-- of course she is; only an accomplished player could create this kind of satire. If she were truly inept, she could not pull it off. 

December 15, 2010 at 04:53 PM ·

 But who would pay for such an elaborate hoax?

December 15, 2010 at 05:41 PM ·

 It could be a movie or a publicity stunt-- why not? Schikele made his career with musical humor. 

December 15, 2010 at 05:43 PM ·

Perhaps its more likely that she has fallen into someone else's scheme - someone who has little or no understanding of the way that classical music works.  I'm thinking of a svengali.  Who actually put together the video and uploaded it?  However, she would have to be at least gullible to fall for it ....

I guess the only way to find out would be to actually ask her.

BTW did she perform with the LO?  Or was that just a recording session?

December 15, 2010 at 06:02 PM ·

Speaking cynically, an indulgent "sugar daddy" might be more than willing to pay for such an elaborate hoax.

December 15, 2010 at 07:31 PM ·

 I had more to say, so here's a blog:

December 15, 2010 at 09:41 PM ·

 At 5:15 in the "Virtuosity 2/4" video by Ms. K, the face of the violinist on the right and those wires in front her oddly resembling a devil's pitchfork indicate we've entered violin hell. (I'm sure if I posted this on Youtube, it too would mysteriously vanish)

December 15, 2010 at 10:14 PM ·

One thing is for sure: Miss Karkowska is by no means intimidated by composer's intentions. Which is no problem assuming the composer did not have any. And this assumption would ease quite some pain performing musicians experience from time to time.


December 15, 2010 at 10:54 PM ·

For those that are taking this seriously, did you know that the word "gullible" is not in the dictionary?  Seriously, look it up.

This is a brilliant publicity stunt.  I am posting to a thread devoted entirely to her.  How many other relatively unknown violinists can make that claim.  I guess not even her, because now she is no longer "unknown."

December 15, 2010 at 11:16 PM ·

 This may be true, but if her true ultimate goal was to have this be a lucrative stunt, I doubt that it will get to that point.  

December 15, 2010 at 11:48 PM ·

"For those that are taking this seriously, did you know that the word "gullible" is not in the dictionary?  Seriously, look it up."

Very clever, Smiley :)


December 16, 2010 at 01:04 AM ·

She wobbles my world !

December 16, 2010 at 01:25 AM ·

for axis praxis take ex-laxis?

December 16, 2010 at 03:27 AM ·

Yes, this is clearly a case of prune overdose.  Someone, find that woman a bathroom, quick!

December 16, 2010 at 04:36 AM ·

I know I'm only a fiddler, so my opinion doesn't count as much. That said, any discussion of the technical merits or the intention of the artist vs the composer don't matter to me as much as the simple fact:

I find it disturbing to listen to. I find it a very unpleasant sound variation. I would rather suffer the same duration of mid-level physical pain rather than hear that vibrato.

The problem may be me, however from the discussion, I do not think so. I'll take credit for other problems, but not this one.

December 16, 2010 at 06:57 AM ·

Fortunately, there is still musical music around:


December 16, 2010 at 07:01 AM ·

So after spending more time on her website, I am more confused than ever.  The sound clips are entirely normal and pleasant to listen to, especially the Mozart, but her Mendelssohn video sounds exactly like I remember it from the live performance (I knew it -- a flamboyant young Pole with an insane vibrato and a penchant for strapless dresses, who else could it be?) and I had no indication at that time that there was anything, well, less than serious in her deportment.

Well what do you know, the sisters got invited back earlier this year:

December 16, 2010 at 01:44 PM ·

 Like Graham said, there are opera singers with vibrato like this and yet it's quite the convention in that world. I never liked it myself but she does mention in the video that she hears the music as opera.

December 16, 2010 at 03:47 PM ·

Yes, I believe she's fond of a little known operatic period known as Opera Hysterica,  which is also sometimes referred to Opera Emetica -- that is, opera designed to make the listener nauseous and inspire violent emesis.  As you can see, she is very, very good at this.

December 16, 2010 at 04:45 PM ·

Almost non-vibrating? The vibrato is slightly less than in the Virtuosity album, but it is still noticeably...Karkowska-like.

December 16, 2010 at 07:11 PM ·

“stunning...better played than Itzhak Perlman's own recording”
Mark S. Jordan, Mount Vernon News

“Remember this name: Anna Karkowska, She is destined for stardom”
Don Estep, News Journal

“...a very gifted young violinist”
Daniel Barenboim, Music Director, Chicago Symphony Orchestra

JoAnn Falletta, Music Director, Buffalo Philarmonic

“...immensely talented young violinist”
Krzysztof Penderecki, Composer, Conductor, Grammy Award Winner

“...a young artist of extraordinary gifts”
George Zak, Music Director, Lexington Philharmonic

Yeah, that clears everything up, Don. Case closed.   Or maybe you're kidding. I can't tell.  

Those quotes clear nothing up. They only raise questions....not least of which is their veracity, especially since they're on Ms. Karkowska's own website.  In the one review I found of her playing that wasn't on her website, the critic tiptoes extremely carefully, but reading what was clearly indicated between the lines, the guy found her playing bizarre, to say the least.  

It is absolutely  inconceivable, based upon the horrendous quality of her playing -- as evidenced by her  audio and video samples -- that any violin expert would make those claims.  Honestly, it's not even a judgment call.  It's, plainly, not possible.  

Better than Perlman?  Really?   

December 16, 2010 at 08:27 PM ·

Maybe not better than Perlman.  But definitely better than Heifetz. 





December 17, 2010 at 01:44 AM ·


Hint: Heifetz  is currently dead.

December 17, 2010 at 02:39 AM ·

this whole thing has such a scandalous stench to it...ugh.  different \= better. i hope nobody in the general public buys into this hype

December 17, 2010 at 06:30 AM ·

 awww, you guys, you just never know what went around those ellipses, for example it could be: 

(Julia Fischer's Paganini is..)“stunning...better played than Itzhak Perlman's own recording”
Mark S. Jordan, Mount Vernon News 

“Remember this name: Anna Karkowska, She is destined for stardom”  (of a dubious sort, for this crazy stunt)
Don Estep, News Journal

(I recently recorded Mozart piano trios with Nikolaj Znaider, who is) “...a very gifted young violinist”
Daniel Barenboim, Music Director, Chicago Symphony Orchestra

(The concert is over,) “...bravo” 
JoAnn Falletta, Music Director, Buffalo Philarmonic

(I'm looking for an) “...immensely talented young violinist” (to play my next concerto)
Krzysztof Penderecki, Composer, Conductor, Grammy Award Winner

“...a young artist of extraordinary gifts”(should never waste them)
George Zak, Music Director, Lexington Philharmonic

December 17, 2010 at 07:20 AM ·

 where is the like button on this site, Laurie??

December 17, 2010 at 09:09 AM ·

Having worked with Dennis Simons for many years I am amazed that he should endorse a violinist like Anna. If anyone played with a vibrato like hers he would have been the first person to object. I wonder what has persuaded him to change this view.

December 17, 2010 at 09:24 AM ·

Why not ask him Nigel?  We'd all love to hear his answer...

December 17, 2010 at 09:38 AM ·

 Yes, why don't you ask Nigel, and in particular, ask how much he accepted! 

December 17, 2010 at 09:42 AM ·

How interesting.  If you search the web for 'Anna Karkowska' 95% of what comes up is by - Anna Karkowska or linked to her web pages.  Much of the rest is to the recording she made, and the music commissioned for it, with the London Symphony Orchestra.  I get the impression that this as a recording session commissioned by Anna herself.

Other than that its hard to find anything about her, good or bad with the occasional groupie on Flicker or some such.  Thats very odd: you would have thought that a virtuoso would have a trail of critiques from knowledgeable sources - but virtually nothing. 

There is one voice in the night - and thats Lauries posts here, which seem to me now like the famous child in the story: "The Emperor Has No Clothes....".  Though in this case I suppose there are at least necessaries ...

December 17, 2010 at 01:42 PM ·

 Probably a technologically virtuoso publicity stunt, or joke, or a seriously tongue-in-cheek, or even cynical statement about the uniformity of today's soloists.

December 17, 2010 at 02:58 PM ·

I believe the google search is if we need any more evidence beyond the DVD.  Google virtually any serious violinist these days and you're bound to bump into numerous and diverse references to concerts, competitions and other things.  My own 15-year-old daughter has a violin-playing google trail about a mile longer than Ms. Karkowska's.  As has been obvserved, almost all hits are on her own site.

December 17, 2010 at 03:18 PM ·

"A model of treacherous ambition"?

Not so much.

More like grandiose misplaced, misguided, self-delusional, self-financed and doomed ambition.  (Although I think her name will live on in teaching studios when kids are learning vibrato -- "Jimmy, a little less Karkowska in your vibrato please.")

She put herself out there -- in a big, aggressive and also ridiculously schmaltzy way that only someone with money to burn can do.  Right from the name of her "project," through the playing, and the insane testimonials hyping her  as the second coming of Heifetz and Oistrakh...

it's an engraved invitation to all of us (to either attend her silly party or decline), and so  my little comments here can be read as my polite RSVP.


December 17, 2010 at 03:32 PM ·

 I heartily endorse Nigel Jay's comments. It's not JUST the vibrato, though, it's the wayward intonation. "Centre the note", Dennis Simons would exhort us in his days as BBC Philharmonic Concertmaster.

December 17, 2010 at 03:38 PM ·

I think launching a successful career should probably begin with knowing how to play your instrument. 

December 17, 2010 at 03:48 PM ·

Sean is right, up to a point. But just as important is that 11th. commandment:- "Thou shalt not be found out " !!

December 17, 2010 at 04:03 PM ·

I wish her the best of luck in her endeavours.  Weirder things have happened.  Although I suspect she'll probably have to finance production of that CD herself.  Shouldn't be a problem.  She could hire P-Diddy to produce. 

December 17, 2010 at 04:20 PM ·

Sean - "(Although I think her name will live on in teaching studios when kids are learning vibrato -- "Jimmy, a little less Karkowska in your vibrato please.")

LOL!  And I love your perspective. 

Yuri Geller (remember the magician) tried the same thing - and is still remembered (hence my cite) - but not for being a great magician but for his Munchousen-istic buffoonery claiming superhuman abilities.

It should, however, be a fun ride that may at least draw into the public eye exactly what great violin playing really means.  The important thing (and here I give Laurie a big clap on the back) is that someone stands up to make the call that this is not it....

December 17, 2010 at 06:31 PM ·

Florence Foster Jenkins

Pia Zadora

Thomas Kinkade

Bernie Madoff

She comes from a long line of the "legend in his/her own mind" performers.  What I find a little amazing, is that she actually seems to slide her fingers rather than just roll them.  Has anyone tried running any of this through Auto-Tune?  As Buri pointed out, you might get a whole new piece!

December 17, 2010 at 07:25 PM ·

December 17, 2010 at 08:26 PM ·

Don: "I wanted to type a reply but my computer is strangely hissing.  Better check this out."

Are you sure that isn't a pronounced rapid wobbling sound - certified faster, bigger and louder than Heifperlmilstoysticci's vibrato?

December 17, 2010 at 09:02 PM ·

Almost 100 replies and counting.  We might need another thread for this.  Anyone still question whether this is a publicity stunt?  She is certainly getting no shortage of publicity.

December 17, 2010 at 09:08 PM ·

"Like Graham said, there are opera singers with vibrato like this and yet it's quite the convention in that world. I never liked it myself but she does mention in the video that she hears the music as opera."

And that's the main reason I can't get into opera - the prevalence of vibrato so extreme that I find it jarringly discordant, hardly musical at all.  Anna Karkowska's playing sounds like a cross between a theremin and an erhu - yet aside from the extreme vibrato she actually sounds quite accomplished.

Oh well... in the words of Abe Lincoln: "For people who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing people like."

December 17, 2010 at 09:17 PM ·

Smiley, All publicity is good publicity; and if gullible really isn't yet in your dictionary maybe it derives from gully-by-hole or some such quaint olde-worlde expression, shrivelled by careless every-day usage in the same way as "is it not" became "isn't it" then "innit". Dictionaries take AGES to catch up. Did the USA ever get Rolf Harris and his wobble-board ??

Not many gully-by-hole folk on Three cheers !!

To be serious, I think the talent's huge, just misdirected.

December 17, 2010 at 09:23 PM ·

 A visit (no doubt part of the strategy) to the composer's website (of the Concerto that Ms K. plays) reveals that a) the orchestra is important in the work, and b) the CD hasn't yet been released.

Is what is presented on these youtube clips a plausible mix for the work where even with youtube quality one can hear that the orchestra sound is muddy and in the background, and the soloist rather clear and forward by comparison? Hardly. Would I be surprised if what is eventually released on the CD doesn't sound at all like these youtube clips? Not at all. 



December 18, 2010 at 03:34 AM ·

Post 99

December 18, 2010 at 03:36 AM ·

Post 100.  Ok that's enough free publicity Ms K.  There are too many people in this world who have worked their butts off, and they can actually play.

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