A Different Type of Hahn (not Hilary) Entirely

March 2, 2011 at 07:49 PM ·

Perhaps I'm late to the game. He's been around for a few years, apparently, but he never made it onto my radar.  But today, avoiding actual work, on my daily Internet walkabout, I stumbled upon upon this article in the New York Times: www.nytimes.com/2011/02/24/fashion/24HAHNBIN.html

And then went to his website, where one can find some performance videos: 




Replies (63)

March 2, 2011 at 10:03 PM ·

Yes, I also stumbled upon him on the net a while back. Kind of the Boy George of the violin. And I don't mean that as a put down. He is what he is and that's fine. It probably helps to get audiences  that otherwise might not come to violin concerts. But I haven't heard enough yet of just what's coming out of his violin to be sure that w.o. all the makeup and rolling around on the piano sometimes, whether I'd be that impressed with his fiddling and musicianship. For now, if "Hahn", I'll take Hilary!

March 2, 2011 at 11:10 PM ·

I, too,  am a huge admirer of Ms. Hahn's playing.

March 2, 2011 at 11:13 PM ·

I too will take Hilary, hands down.

Not that this person can't do something for the market.

March 2, 2011 at 11:34 PM ·

Wierd guy -- great technique.  I remember he made the news a few years ago when he left his Strad in a cab. 

March 2, 2011 at 11:41 PM ·

Oy. Now I feel bad for the guy, and it's my own fault. I should have realized that my headline would make comparison of playing (rather than simply name) unavoidable.  I swear I wasn't asking anyone to make an either/or choice between HH. and HB (not really a fair contest, let's face it).... just pointing to an unusual talent is all...and, one, given the Karkowska adventures of the past few months, I expected to be all talk and no walk...and was surprised that he's talk and walk (on heels no less)..... 

March 2, 2011 at 11:47 PM ·

 sean, i am not going to say anything either way to make you feel uncomfortable, but i have a question that i have wanted to ask:

in the pic of the 6 donuts,,,what flavor is the one on the top left?  is that green?

i think that pic is quite symbolic of violinists of all flavors,,,darn,,,that is deep:)

March 3, 2011 at 01:08 AM ·

Nah...only uncomfortable that I inadvertantly pushed Hb into a contest with HH...but your donut comment....deep thoughts, indeed, Al.....observing life through the hole of a donut... 

I don't really remember much about that pic except that I was in a crazed search for a picture of (because I was craving) a donut from Doughnut Plant....where one can purchase and consume the most amazing donuts the world has ever known.... creme brulee donuts....or square donuts with homemade jam pumped throughout so every bite provides a taste of jam....tres leches donuts.......coconut glaze coconut cream donuts....blackout donuts...carmelized ginger glazed donuts....peanut butter glazed blackberry jam donuts...

I'm not sure I ever did find a pic from doughnut plant...though if I did...I would have to guess those green ones are pistachio donuts



March 3, 2011 at 01:28 AM ·

i can resist a lot of things except temptations:)

reading that paragraph, penned by a donut connoisseur,  will eventually lead me to get a scoop of ice cream later tonight.  


March 3, 2011 at 01:39 AM ·

Call me cynical, but it seems to me that Nigel Kennedy's 'hawk wasn't enough to save the world, so to speak.  I also have to wonder, since the haute couture and avant-garde art worlds are already pretty rarefied, if it's really drawing a "new" audience.  Not that there isn't anything to be said for showmanship...

March 3, 2011 at 02:15 AM ·

I think I might get a wardrobe and haircut like that and see what happens.

Anyway - Hilary's much sexier ...

March 3, 2011 at 03:05 AM ·

March 3, 2011 at 03:07 AM ·

What hath I wrought? Maybe it is I who should apologize re getting the ball rolling with Hilary, when I said "if it's Hahn, I prefer Hilary"! But I was reminded of a critic who didn't care for Richard Strauss. He said if it's "Richard" I'll take Wagner; if it's "Stauss" I'll take Johan.

So if it's "Bin" I'll take Ladin. No, I won't! Why don't I stop while I'm ahead???

PS Again, as I said above, "I don't mean... a put down. He is what he is and that's fine. It probably helps to get audiences  that otherwise might not come to violin concerts."

PPS And if it's "Raphael", I prefer Sanzio! ;-)

March 3, 2011 at 03:23 AM ·

 on this hahn thread, it is clearly safer and nicer to talk about hilary.  but, if hahn-bin is truly true to his artistic inclinations and pursue them through the stares and whispers,  as if a freak is on the violin,  i respect him and his acts, no pun intended.  

you guys always talk about having an individual voice.  here is one and you complain it is perhaps too individual:)

hahn-bin is living his dream in a hurry.

meanwhile, we fantasize we will do this and that after we retire...

give the kid a break!

(besides, he plays better than i do.  not sure i can say the same about you guys, haha)

March 3, 2011 at 04:51 AM ·

His technique is not very good. His intonation isn't very good. He sounds like a conservatory student, possibly a grad student. I find it embarrassing that he believes his musicality lives up to his flamboyant artistic persona. If he could match it, musically, then he would deserve to be talked about.

March 3, 2011 at 05:06 AM ·

I say more power to him, he's actually getting out there and performing, going for something overall in the way he presents himself and his music. His playing is fine and he doesn't deserve to have the vitriol dumped on his playing because you GUYS don't like his black lipstick. :) 

March 3, 2011 at 11:35 AM ·

"His technique is not very good. His intonation isn't very good. He sounds like a conservatory student, possibly a grad student. I find it embarrassing that he believes his musicality lives up to his flamboyant artistic persona. If he could match it, musically, then he would deserve to be talked about."


I will look forward to your enhanced video you will now post for us, showing greater taste and perfect intonation and better technique and musicianship. But perhaps I won't hold my breath!!

Maybe in answer to Laurie, people should at least admit to being possibly anti gay? Personally I'm just pro violin and music, and I don't give a stuff how they look and how they might be.

March 3, 2011 at 12:07 PM ·

The black lipstick is fine... it's just that he's made a serious artistic blunder by not having matching bow hair. ;-)


"Maybe in answer to Laurie, people should at least admit to being possibly anti gay? Personally I'm just pro violin and music, and I don't give a stuff how they look and how they might be."


What's up with that? Would you have us assume from his appearance that he's gay?

March 3, 2011 at 12:24 PM ·

"Would you have us assume from his appearance that he's gay?"

No, not at all, but some people might think along those lines, like someone I know did when I played the clip. I'm thinking of black lipstick too, but I don't agree about the black bow hair, I think it should be bright orange, to match my complexion ... (It always goes that colour when I'm on v.com ...)

March 3, 2011 at 12:37 PM ·

Whether the hair should be black or not, leaving it white is a serious faux pas. ;-)

I tried to find a picture of one of Pasewicz's multi-colored rehairs, but couldn't come up with one right now. Maybe he'll notice this and put one up.

March 3, 2011 at 12:59 PM ·

This comment will probably get me in trouble.  I have nothing against gays, but after watching his interview, I would be quite surprised if he is NOT gay.  If people hold that against him, then that is truly unfortunate

March 3, 2011 at 02:16 PM ·

 i think the society at large has this thing against guys who are soft, feminine or artsy.   the common lingo among the younger generation is: he is so gay; i don't think it means what he means.  it is less of an homophobic put down and more of a derogative term against people who do not fit the macho image.  heifetz next to john wayne looks gay with that line of thinking. that is why football players pick on kids carrying a violin case.

therefore, as far as i am concerned, any males who play the violin or like classical music are gay.   so admit it, claim the prize and be happy about it! :)

over the spring break on vacation i was watching a tv fashion show with my older one.  the main character is straight blond and her assistant, brad, is gay (i think so and it will definitely pass the smiley test).  but he makes the show;  he is just funny, engaging, thoughtful and brilliant. meanwhile, her husband is such a bore and whiner. :)

i think in general the neanderthal males have much to learn from gay males to be more sensitive and tolerant.  perhaps also with personal hygiene, haha.

March 3, 2011 at 02:57 PM ·

Pretty strange that who "don't gives a stuff how they look and how they might be." is the first to mention the eventual gay element here...

IMO the guy, as he "sells" himself, is a pretty proficient violinist but also represents the ultimate triumph of packaging over content: Modern times...

And @Nicole: The bit with "Nigel Kennedy's 'hawk  wasn't enough to save the world" is priceless... ;-D

March 3, 2011 at 03:06 PM ·

For my part, I spent less time speculating about his sexual orientation than I did enjoying the memory of the so-called testimonials on Ms. Karkowska's website as I read the undoubtedly legit comment from Mr. Perlman in the Times:

“He is an extremely talented violinist who is very, very individual. He combines music with drama and a visual element. It’s very personal to him. When an artist feels it that personally, the audience does, too.”

And along with everything else, I got a kick out of Hb's sense of humor:

"Honestly, to get onstage and balance in my shoes is a lifetime achievement in of itself.”

Fun stuff.  And some impressive playing.  Why the heck not?   Like Laurie said, more power to him 


March 3, 2011 at 03:56 PM ·

claudio mahle

Well, you can be as cynical as you like, but it was pointed out by a female when I downloaded the clip, that he might be gay, it hadn't occured to me. Women notice these things more.

March 3, 2011 at 05:02 PM ·

Wow, I don't like a guy's playing and suddenly I'm anti-gay. I have absolutely no problem with the way he dresses. If it brings more people to the concert hall that's awesome. I just don't think he's that good a violinist to match his flair.

March 3, 2011 at 06:54 PM ·

 believe it or not, if i read each post individually, i can see where each poster is coming from.

but taken as a whole, i think this thread is reflective enough or quite accurately of what is out there, in terms of how people look at violin players, how violin players look at violin players, how violin players who are different in one way look at violin players who are different in another way.

and so, this gives me yet another affirmation to not to encourage my kid or kids around me to pursue violin seriously and professionally.

for the amt of effort that one puts in,  to get onto the prof level, to share what one has to share, and then have to deal with the general negative sentiments  within  the brethren, is simply not a good idea.  it is not worth the bother.  bad, bad idea.

March 3, 2011 at 07:04 PM ·

 I remember Hahn-Bin Yoo (before he dropped his last name) from ENCORE, the Cerones' summer music festival in Ohio.  He studied with Mr. Lipsett there and, even as a teenager, dressed in a very "individual" way.  However, his playing was absolutely solid and very interesting.  If I'm remembering correctly, I believe he played Vieuxtemps and Sibelius very, very well.  

I believe Hahn-Bin is channeling Johnny Weir and Lady Gaga in that he is trying to shake up in the industry in an individualistic, yet organic way.  When you remove the eyeliner, Phantom masks, and stilettos, the playing is quite sensitive and lovely.  If some people are put off by his stage actions, that is their problem.

Here is an introductory video to Hahn-Bin:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psq5cQenrG0

March 3, 2011 at 07:12 PM ·

 or intonation game thanks to you!

i heard fiddlerman is going to offer the game in cash;  for each point you get, you get a dollar.

forget school; lets turn pro.

March 3, 2011 at 07:59 PM ·


"Wow, I don't like a guy's playing and suddenly I'm anti-gay. I have absolutely no problem with the way he dresses. If it brings more people to the concert hall that's awesome. I just don't think he's that good a violinist to match his flair."

So, we are still awaiting your video giving examples of good technique, intonation, and musicianship. We are not concerned about your position, anti-gay, or otherwise. Just remember to use the black lipstick though.

March 3, 2011 at 08:35 PM ·

Uh oh, what if we asked for the same from all the famous violin teachers, and the professional music critics? ;-)

March 3, 2011 at 08:54 PM ·

Could be interesting!!

March 3, 2011 at 09:00 PM ·

 I actually find Hahn Bin incredibly arrogant and annoying. I can't believe he used the words "strange fruit" in his NYT interview to describe himself. He  postures and pretends he's a poet (his poetry, which used to be posted on his website, is silly) and pretends he's going to rescue classical music in our culture-- but he misses a major cultural reference with grotesque insensitively. The claims by his current manager, that he "speaks to his generation" are understandable because this is the way artists managers always talk about emerging talent, but, honestly, this sort of navel-gazing self-importance is not what classical music needs to grow its relevance in our culture. Arrogant, posturing artists create a sense of distance and remoteness and alienate potential audiences. 

March 3, 2011 at 09:39 PM ·

I think I've lined up some veteran, highly successful musicians to help him improve his wardrobe and makeup. They thought it would be an interesting project, and as you can see, gave me the "thumbs up" when I asked if they would participate.

March 3, 2011 at 11:50 PM ·

@E.Smith: You make a compelling argument, as always.  Sounds like you've known about him for awhile.  Rereading the NYTimes article with a more critical eye in light of your post made me tune in more closely to the posturing. Referring to himself as a creator of an entirely new genre (really?) slipped by me the first time -- I guess I was more amused than annoyed by it, or maybe I was temporarily blinded by his Eyes-Wide-Shut masquerade party mask.   I do find myself wondering if he was aware of what he was saying with the "strange fruit" reference...so perhaps insensitivity by way of ignorance(?)...or, wait, that's what you were saying -- how can he save a culture that he doesn't even understand (I'm slow on the uptake today..more than usual).  I've never read his poetry, but I don't need to (I'll take your word for it).  The stuff about saving classical music I mostly  attributed to his manager and dismissed as marketing drivel.  And his self-importance I put down to his youth...and excused, mostly because I was amused by his unusually theatrical  presentation (the crack about playing in heels helped) in conjunction with more legit violin chops than i had  anticipated -- the anti-karkowska effect, if you will.   

March 4, 2011 at 12:13 AM ·

Ref: David's photo

That guy has a really long and pointy tongue.  If he played violin, he might be able to use it to play some of the really high notes -- kind of like an extra finger.  I'll bet Paganini couldn't do that. :-)

@Al, never knew I was gay, but now that you mention it, I guess I'll wear the label proudly.

March 4, 2011 at 01:15 AM ·

smiley i think you might have misunderstood when i mentioned the smiley test.:)  it was not about you but your ability to assess who is what on the preceding post.

overall, i do not understand why someone who plays the violin with a story to tell visually or stylistically needs to be dissected in such detail, as if he needs to answer to certain standard or be held accountable for the marketing rhetoric.   he is different; unless we are like him, most of what he does will not be agreeable to our taste.  isn't that what the theme is...to shock our senses?    what if he is dead serious that he is saving classical music?  is his being grandiose any different from performers wearing diamond studded coats?  is this not one form of artistic expression, however high or low level?  isn't this entertainment to those who bought tickets to attend the shows? 

his teacher is perlman who said very clearly that this student of his is very very individualistic.  i guess in the end we agree, so lets move on!   




March 4, 2011 at 01:27 AM ·

So, I can only have an opinion of someone if I'm better than them? Can I not have an opinion of a pianist (I don't play piano). Am I not allowed to be critical of pop singers, since I'm not a singer? 

March 4, 2011 at 01:51 AM ·

 Sean wrote: << I do find myself wondering if he was aware of what he was saying with the "strange fruit" reference...so perhaps insensitivity by way of ignorance(?)...or, wait, that's what you were saying -- how can he save a culture that he doesn't even understand (I'm slow on the uptake today..more than usual).  I've never read his poetry, but I don't need to (I'll take your word for it).>>

He's been in the US more than half his life and is fluent in English-- he considers himself a poet. Of course he understands Western culture-- he's adept at manipulating the media for attention (see instrument-left-in-taxi stunt, 2009.) Even if he were ignorant of the very famous Billie Holiday song or the poem it's based on, he has some echo of the phrase in his head and is responsible for knowing its genesis before using it as a vehicle for self-congratuation.


March 4, 2011 at 04:24 AM ·

@Al, I did understand your "smiley test" comment.  It was your comment about any males who play violin and like classical music that lead me to the conclusion that I might be gay.  I'll try to get more in touch with my feminine side :-)

@Marty, Of course you are entitled to your opinion; and no, you do not have to demonstrate that you have perfect technique, or even good technique.  But, it would be much more compelling if you provided specific reasons why you think he has poor technique.  Perhaps my hearing is not that keen, but from what I heard, his intonation sounded spot on.  Maybe you can point out one of his youtube recordings and name a spot where his intonation is off.  I'd like to see if I hear what you're hearing.

BTW, did you try Pierre's hearing test?  Give it a go and see if you can get on the high scores.


March 4, 2011 at 05:00 AM ·

I see what you're saying.  It's reasonable to say that Hahn-Bin should know the "strange fruit" reference.  In fact, we should probably all know the reference.  It's just that I don't know that we do.  I don't know when I first learned about it...perhaps in high school, when I began studying jazz...definitely in college, where I remember clearly discussing the song during one of my jazz classes. Maybe it came up elsewhere, but I'm fairly certain the poem never surfaced in my lit classes. The problem is I just don't know what today's young people know about jazz songs (even famous ones) of the 1930s, or even of American history.  Maybe it does come up in American history classes, but I'm not sure.  So I don't know what's widely known by young people.  And I don't have a clue what Hahn Bin knows, even after having been here half his life and being a self-proclaimed poet. Maybe the phrase was echoing in his head (he did use it, after all), but if he didn't know the genesis of the phrase and its importance, then...well, he couldn't have known that he was responsible for knowing its genesis before using it. For him, it would have just been a convenient phrase like any other.  Brings me back to my statement about insensitivity by way of ignorance. Which is different than using it knowingly for grandiose self-promotion. On the other hand, if he did know, and used the phrase to draw a parallel between Juilliard students "teasing" (his word) him because he listened to Bjork and the lynching of African Americans in the South, well, frankly, that would be disgusting and unforgivable.  But, even accepting him as a skilled manipulator of the media and assuming that he purposefully left his violin in a taxi to drum up attention for his Carnegie Hall concert (what a potentially expensive stunt!), I just don't know what was in his head in this instance.  Anyway, I do hope he just wasn't aware.

(An additional random thought.  I found myself thinking about the writer of the article, Alex Hawgood -- and what he (or she?) knows about the "strange fruit" phrase and what he was trying to tell us, if anything,  by calling attention it.  I mean, Hawgood chose to set it off as a direct quote in the midst of a paraphrased statement from Hahn-Bin.  Maybe it was innocent (or ignorant), maybe it was a sinister attempt to reveal what he saw as a the true Hahn Bin in a seemingly positive profile..... who knows? I sure don't.    

March 4, 2011 at 05:10 AM ·

But then there is that  comic illustration depicting  some "dangerous neighborhood" with rough and tumble string players looking for trouble standing behind a  brick wall  which has some graffiti scrawled on it "Jascha was here!"  and a boy cowering, clutching his football close to his chest, as he warily walks past the string players as they  taunt him saying: "What's the matter, sissy, can't play the violin?!!"

March 4, 2011 at 05:38 AM ·

I saw that illustration, and that's why I started playing the violin. It was a joke?????

March 6, 2011 at 05:46 PM ·

Ronald, where can I find that cartoon? Just have to see it :)


March 7, 2011 at 02:39 AM ·

 I'd love to see it, too. 

March 7, 2011 at 01:15 PM ·

I don't have kids/teenagers or teach them, so my question for those on here who do have contact with these "young humans" is:   Does seeing/hearing someone like Mr Hahn make them more interested in violin and/or classical music?  Or do they just laugh at him and go back to their Sevcik studies or Playstation?

Maybe we could have the teachers/parents on here play the video to their youngsters and report back on what kind of reaction they observe?  

It is easy for those of us who are of a certain age to make comments about his clothing and appearance but I really want to know what his obvious potential target group think of him.  Personally I don't particularly think he is an especially amazing violinist but then I guess I'm not the kind of person he would expect to rush out to buy his CDs or videos...

March 7, 2011 at 01:45 PM ·

 when my kids saw the clip, no offense to the hb if you happen to read it, they go: Eeeeeeeeell!  

on the other hand, what he does is his own brand,,his artistic model, his business model.   it is his responsibility, his business.  

in one of the interviews on his website, he stated that he has noticed that 50% of concert goers fall asleep.  perhaps an exaggeration, but he has a point.  some people do fall asleep, others, fearful to fall asleep, probably go not bother to go to classical concerts and do something else instead.  

is his goal to make sure no one falls asleep in his concert?  that is up to him to decide whether such a goal is meaningful or a good measure of his artistry. 

he has every prerogative to do whatever he likes with his violin, in whatever fashion, and claim whatever effects, just like coke and pepsi each claims it has the better cola.  but i don't think he explicitly and specifically claims he is the one and only  to rescue classical music from the decline.  and even if he does make that claim-because he feels like that and he can- and if  some believe him and others don't,  that is to be expected.   i think to expect him or make him a role model for every kid who is about to start violin is too far reaching.  if  a parent insists that hb's hardcore image is not appropriate for his/her kids, then tune out.  one does not have to listen to howard stern.  there is a choice.

ps.  i have fallen asleep during concerts and movies.  in concerts, it is soothing so i fall asleep.  in movies, because it is dark:)  i even slept through part of 2012,,,i swear.


March 7, 2011 at 01:53 PM ·

"in one of the interviews on his website, he stated that he has noticed that 50% of concert goers fall asleep.  perhaps an exaggeration, but he has a point.  some people do fall asleep, others, fearful to fall asleep, probably go not bother to go to classical concerts and do something else instead.  

is his goal to make sure no one falls asleep in his concert?  that is up to him to decide whether such a goal is meaningful or a good measure of his artistry. 

ps.  i have fallen asleep during concerts and movies.  in concerts, it is soothing so i fall asleep.  in movies, because it is dark:)"

I've fallen asleep in an opera whilste taking part, because there were about 50 bars rest and I was overtired. My desk partner nudged me awake just in time to play. She's lucky I didn't yell out, "where am I."

It's like the joke about Handels's Messiah, in which you have a nightmare that you are playing it, only to wake up and find you are!!


March 7, 2011 at 02:11 PM ·

 haha, that was worth the ticket:)   when i first read the word opera, i thought you fell asleep during singing, something out of a mr bean thingy..

so, if people fall asleep on your concert, brushing aside the knee jerk reaction that it must be boring, we must acknowledge that while it may be boring to some who will fall asleep elsewhere anyway, for some others it may be a demonstration that classical music is so powerful that it can control one's sleep-wake cycle!   

i am not ashamed if i fall asleep during the concert as long as it is not the entire concert.  it is the drooling part that concerns me a bit.

March 7, 2011 at 02:59 PM ·

I slept through the entire middle of Avatar. Woke up for Act III.  Pretty scenery. Who cares. Apparently, I don't.   Ditto 3-D.

(Re performers my kid cares about, she'll take Vengerov over just about anyone.  Saw a clip of Hb. Smiled wanly.  Moved on.)

March 7, 2011 at 05:11 PM ·

To those who asked, regrettably I was told about the cartoon/illustration but never saw it myself so I don't know anything further.


April 2, 2011 at 02:11 PM ·

I'm playing a concert with Hahn-Bin tonight, and we had a rehearsal last night.  He comes to rehearsal in full makeup.  He has a very nice and extremely loud violin which I heard was made last year in Michigan (I would love to know who the maker is).  He is certainly a competent violinist.  Unlike most of the soloists we have, he doesn't really communicate with the orchestra, but again, the music he's playing (Carmen Fantasie and Ziegeunerweisen) really only requires the orchestra to accompany, but he's easy to follow.

April 2, 2011 at 02:40 PM ·

Elaine - that's very interesting.

On re-reading this thread I see what the problem for some people may be. He makes people feel vulnerable because he is so different.

So some have to try and find fault with his playing.


April 2, 2011 at 06:17 PM ·

i understand the association made to being gay but this, apart from the classical music world and the violin playing world, its a derivative look/style. when i say derivative, i don't mean to belittle at all..merely stating the obvious fact that it owes a lot to glam rock (david bowie, lou reed, new york dolls..etc) i.e. the allure of the heavil artificial adrogynous look as a stylisitic and highly romantic backlash against the moral/masculine rectitude in the context of post war depressions and thatcherism (of course in britain) etc. now glam rock was associated at least to bisexuality (the the persons of bowie and reed via declarations made at one point but then retracted i think) in reality and certainly, aesthetically and morally, to the queer underbelly of the era. others, who were not glam rock, such as boy george and marc almond were also in tune to this period. it was also the breeding ground for what later on would be the goth phenomenon. all very heavily made up very androgynous....but....this is not to say that we are allowed, in this day and age, to confuse an aesthetic sensibility with a sexual one.

to confirm this further, i am well aware of the inordinate number of gay men who are even more rabidly anti-camp/anti-male femininity than most open minded straight very "masculine" males. it is ironic and sad, this attitude of theirs, but its telling that :

1- if a man looks butch/masculine, that in no way implies that he is straight

2- if he dons women dresses and makeup, whether as a fetish or as a matter of aesthetico-political statement, that in no way implies that he is gay.

3- if he is strictly effeminate in behaviour that does not, necessarily, equate to him being gay

as violinists, i should imagine that if there are qualms about his playing these could be underlined without referencing his looks. and as laurie indicates, or i think she does, its good enough that we have one more visible violinist in the world, whether he wears a suit and a tie or a catsuit.

April 2, 2011 at 06:34 PM ·

come to think of it, its as irrelevant as citing vengerov's facial expressions as some sort of insiduous evidence to belittle his abilities pitted against the abilities of ...well...they name their favourite stoic violinist. some people are even so offensive as to call it a monkey face.  i fail to see the relevance. some people are just outwardly more expressive, their work may be better or worse than others but outward facial/body/constume expressivity should not factor in an evaluation of their playing. and i go back to practicing now.

April 2, 2011 at 07:19 PM ·

Haven't read all remarks.

Why do people not like H-B?

There's at least one very simple possible answer. It's a matter of taste. Is it ok to feel good when looking at a very attractive/beautiful person? Yes?

Then, by sheer logic, it is ok to feel bad having to look at him (what exactly beautiful or ugly means, is in the eye of the beholder; but people are not so different than one would think). For me it's easy: I don't like the appearance of this person. This is ok, it's only my true and personal reaction. It makes me sick to watch him, like it makes me sick to listen to techno or hip hop. That does not mean I don't like him. Maybe he's a nice guy, he simply does not look that way in my eyes. I honestly prefer the looks of Hilary Hahn, for example, and btw. she does not seem to need to pimp herself up like a cock (funnily that's the meaning of "Hahn" in german, it matches perfectly the style of H-B. ;-)

So we have the freedom of choice. I'm glad that there are so many fine violinists out there who don't challenge my narrow-minded and intolerant point of view ;-)

PS: I've written too many words again. It could have been so short:

Why do people not like H-B?

- Because he's ugly.

April 3, 2011 at 03:59 PM ·

The audience REALLY responded to Hahn-Bin's Sarasate.  Sure, it is a bit of "bread and circuses," but the house was rather full, and the performance was successful.  Calling him "ugly" is just superficial and mean.  I would not go to a concert because of the soloist's looks (that's just me), but I do believe that his "look" drew people to the concert who would otherwise not go.  And he drew young people.

I don't know if I would like to hear him play Bach or Beethoven or Mozart, but he's not presenting himself (or his management is not presenting him) as that kind of violinist.  They are presenting him as a celebrity of sorts.  Not everyone can go the pure class and route like Augustin Hadelich (Hahn-Bin's polar opposite, perhaps) and get hired as a soloist.

The thing is that he delivers what he promises to deliver.  We really shouldn't judge him on anything besides what we see and hear.  What we see takes considerable work and skill (diet, make-up, exercise, practice), and what we hear takes considerable work and skill (which everyone knows).  If the sound were less than beautiful, I could criticize it, if the playing were out of rhythm, I could criticize that, if he didn't play in tune, I could criticize that, and if the sound didn't project, I could criticize that.  I can't criticize him on any of those counts.

I watched some of his YouTube videos, and I was not terribly impressed.  But in real life things are different.  You can't really hear the projecting qualities of an instrument or of a violinist (or any musician) in a recording.  Isn't this kind of thing as good a case as any for actually going to a concert rather than getting your music from a video on a computer or through engineered recordings?



April 3, 2011 at 07:02 PM ·


Yes, you are right on every point!!

April 3, 2011 at 08:21 PM ·

"why do people hate him....because he's ugly"

at least have the humility of not generalizing for others and stopping at your own finding him ugly. you're only allowed that much.

  i agree , its thoughtlessly  mean what you're saying. personally, i'm glad the world has colourful people to offer. not everyone is living in a truman show, thankfully.

i'm sure this hahn is more beautiful a person than people who hold the above opinion.


April 4, 2011 at 05:38 AM ·

i'm sure this hahn is more beautiful a person than people who hold the above opinion.

Now, Tammuz,

I was clearly expressing my personal impression about the looks of  HB. You are questioning me as a person.

Now who's unfair?

(sometimes reading twice can avoid misunderstanding.)

April 4, 2011 at 02:00 PM ·

Tobias, i suggest you apply the read-twice dictum to yourself first. my specific qualm was over your opinion that "people don't like him because he's ugly" not that you personally don't like him because you find him ugly - of course that is your personal opinion (and its my personal opinion that finding someone ugly is not reason enough to mention that you find him or her ugly - its just basically mean spirited and morally cheap...but regardless) but your generalizing doesnt stop there. well, i'm people and i dont find him ugly and  neither do i like or dislike what he looks like. it is just what it is. i'm sure there are attributes in your narrow and inane way of looking at it (my opinion, mind you) that might render you ugly in other people's eyes as well. for example this opinion of yours. creatures are not just ugly or beautiful, they're too complex for that. only a simplistic mind that doesnt factor complexity can have this opinion of yours (my opinion).

please don't read this an attack on your person but as a defence of the poor man who's being decribed in undeservingly bad ways simply for his choice of attire and is not here to defend himself. shame on you.


April 23, 2011 at 10:17 PM ·

 I only 'discovered' Hahn Bin today and just wanted to say:

I love the way he looks

I love the way he plays

I love the way he express himself

I love everything about him

I am so happy I discovered this very interesting person, and I discovered him as I subscribed to Itzhak Perlman's Facebook updates! :)

But it seems I may be if not the only one 'almost' the only one in here who loves him this much HAHAHAHA (don't care though! ;))

April 24, 2011 at 12:44 AM ·


I am the same age as Mr. Hahn and could give my opinion for the "advice form the younger generation" question.  Or at least, just give my point of view

But I can't see any way to tell it in a way that would please everyone.  Even with the kindest words, it could be interpreted badly.

I'm willing to send it by email (again told in the kindest way I can) but not on a public forum. 

I respect everyone who likes such fashion/music mix!  Of course, one can't discuss personal taste.  And there will always be some people who like and dislike.  That's life...


April 25, 2011 at 11:33 PM ·

 Well, he can certainly play, no doubt about that.

I think the bottom line is imagination and depth of interpretation.  If you have those going for you, you don't need visual aids.  If you don't have them, no amount of visual aids are going to fool very many people for very long.

However, if you have them AND you feel compelled to go with the visual aids, be my guest--whatever floats your boat.  Just know that you'll attract some people who don't fully appreciate what you're doing musically and you'll probably keep away some who might otherwise be in your corner.

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