most accomplished violinist

July 18, 2004 at 06:51 AM · I think itzhak perlman is amazing, I really would like to play like him, but I heard some opposite views on him? technique wise, which the most accomplished violinist out there right now?

Replies (309)

July 18, 2004 at 01:29 PM · Perlman is as great a violinist as they come. However, I also love Repin, Shaham, and Mutter.

July 18, 2004 at 01:35 PM · I think Perlman has made the most recordings, and he is probaly the most accomplished violinist living today, but I don't really like his playing that much(my opinion). I prefer Heifetz,Kogan,Mutter,Hahn.

July 18, 2004 at 07:24 PM · perlman isn't up there anymore...his arms shake and his wrist spasams sometimes...i just saw 2 recent performances. Ilya Kaler is still at his peak...technically he is as close to perfection as it gets. Never gets unwanted scratch, never plays out of tune, never misses shifts; it always seems that what he is playing is easy for him - like hes not even trying; hes in a state of relaxation that is unbelievable. His Ysaye recording for Naxos/Ongaku exemplifies this the best.

Leonidas Kavakos is also suberb technically - his playing is very fluid.

July 18, 2004 at 07:56 PM · I think that James Ehnes is the finest player around today, based on my limited hearing of his recordings. I realy like Christian Tetzlaff's Lalo Symphonie Espagnol and hope to hear more of him.

July 18, 2004 at 08:05 PM · Rick,

You cannot compare Perlman with Hilary Hahn, she's not even close to perlman...

As professor Louis Persinger puts it in is book (why the violin):

"No actor is equally successful in every character role he undertakes, and no violinist can hope to perform every type of music with like skill. This is also true of every other genre musician, I believe.

The two principal classes of players are the lyric and the brilliant, of course, but those may be subdivided into many further classifications; the dramatic, the scholarly, musicianly, the purely virtuoso type, the extremely conscientious, glib, brittle, etc. A really satisfying and all-encompassing combination is very rare.

It annoys me exceedingly to see any one player labelled the "greatest" violinist. How can one single performer be called that? None exist or have existed without blemishes and shortcomings of some sort in their musical armor and simply because thousands of people have flocked to ear a certain player cannot mean that that particular violinist was "the" greatest. And to call one the greatest, just "relatively" speaking, is a poor compromise. All the great ones, past and present, have had certain attributes and musical qualities to be admired, or envied, or found fault with. No single one could or can play every work equally well."

Persinger hardly needs an introduction to the American musical public, he succeeded Leopold Auer at NY's Juilliard. Some of his students have been Menuhin, Ruggiero Ricci, Isaac Stern and many other great violinists.

I hope this info can help some of you, it's like saying that there is only one way of playing Bachs Sonatas and Partitas, that would be a very poor observation!

Just my 2 cents, keep the change,



July 19, 2004 at 12:19 AM · Heifetz I think was the greatest player all-round even compared to anyone today. That's how I feel. In terms of living violinists I would say Hilary Hahn is more technically accomplished than almost any violinist to ever pick up the instrument. If you don't like her playing on an artistic level that's an entirely different thing altogether.

Looking at her playing ont a non-subjective level she possesses technical tools on the fiddle such as intonation, rhythm, bow control, etc., that top everyone today by a long shot I think. Let's keep practicing guys!

July 19, 2004 at 01:54 AM · "It annoys me exceedingly to see any one player labelled the "greatest" violinist."

I think that the beauty of these "who's the greatest violinist" discussions is that people can mull over the strengths and weaknesses of good performers rather than definitively concluding with the world's greatest player.

July 19, 2004 at 02:46 AM · I agree with Nate to a degree, but I think to be an accomplished violinist you need to play more 'musically' and fit the style WAY better than Hahn. Those Bach recordings...

Heifetz had her technical capacity (better even) but far surpasses her artistcally. I hate hearing music played robotically and i always enjoy watching a passionate concert that might have some minor technical issues more than someone who gets up and machines through the piece 'perfectly'. That's not what music is about.

July 19, 2004 at 04:52 AM · claire,

while i agree that up to this point heifetz is way above her level, i still think that many of hahns recordings are quite "artistic" and surely passionate (not that i've had the pleasure of seeing her live). try her brahms, it's wonderful.

matthew feldman

July 19, 2004 at 07:24 AM · Hilary Hahn plays in excellent taste. It seems to me that anyone who does not go overboard with rubato and so-called 'passion' is vindicated for not having the appropriate musicality. I would much prefer to hear Hilary Hahn play Beethoven or Mozart (or Bach for that matter) than Vengerov or Bell or even Heifetz.

Hilary Hahn is a subtle musician. She can sustain a line or phrase and plays very beautifully.

Why it has become fashionable to overdo everything and show off is probably a problem that was initially caused by Paganini and Listz. The best/greatest violinist is the one who makes you least aware of their own presence and more aware of the composer's, if that makes any sense.


July 19, 2004 at 07:25 AM · Excellent points Carl.

I wonder how excessive vibrato, pulling a really long face and trying to cramp one's neck while playing the violin, quantifies as being emotionally extravagant and therefore a great violinist.

July 19, 2004 at 01:38 PM · LOL

July 19, 2004 at 05:59 PM · yup...first thing they teach you at juilliard - the assortment of faces you can make onstage ;)

heifetz never made any...stood in one spot...didn't move much. Still lost 3 pounds a concert and played more passionatly and with more emotional expression than just about anyone i can think of

July 20, 2004 at 02:13 AM · He didn't move to make it easier on himself...that's his way. I do believe if you move while you play it does help bowing sometimes...look at Elman.

The most accomplished violinist is Itzhak Perlman. Gil Shaham is on the rise so everyone look out.

July 20, 2004 at 07:45 AM · It perhaps helped Elman (who by the way is not the best example to use for great bow technique) because he was very small and chubby and couldn't draw a straight bow at the tip without compensating somehow.


July 22, 2004 at 08:58 PM · Hi,the question was the most acomplished player NOW and then i have to say Repin,who has the most natural mix between fiery tecnique and soulfull musicallity and also has the nerve to bring it all out!!


July 22, 2004 at 11:35 PM · oilveira, ehnes, repin, chung, mintz, zukerman, perlman, shaham, kaler, kavakos

July 24, 2004 at 02:58 AM · I agree with Dan. Heifetz was an amazing player who didn't move at all - which I like. He played very beautiful - but all he aimed to do in my opinion was to see how fast the piece could actually be played..

Still - he was truly amazing.

July 24, 2004 at 07:12 AM · "Kaler Never gets unwanted scratch"

Do not agree! Have heard recording with scratches and bad phrasing!

Hillary Hahn is barely 25 years old and will propably become much better.

Vengerov would propably be the best if he took more time study the pieces and in the process make the strad sound much better.

He never liked to practise either and his mom forced him to practice all the time when he was a child.

It´s still quite common that he doesn´t touch the violin the last days before an important perfomance.

July 24, 2004 at 11:40 AM · Stefan Jackiw...(hope you're reading this Stefan) :)

July 24, 2004 at 02:08 PM · I think Frank Peter Zimmermann gets overlooked way too often. His recordings are more technically accurate than most that I have heard, and he is even better live.

The other one I like is Nikolaj Znaider. But I haven't heard enough of his newer stuff (since he relearned how to play) to judge whether it'll stay as good as his CD "Bravo. "

July 24, 2004 at 02:49 PM · I forgot to mention the only violinplayer that made me look at the violin in an entirly new way and that´s L.Shankar.

Shankar is one of the greatest ever for sure.

July 24, 2004 at 04:28 PM · How about 2 I haven't seen mentioned...Nigel Kennedy and Lara St. John?

July 24, 2004 at 05:36 PM · Technically most accomplished? I have to say Viktoria Mullova...

July 25, 2004 at 02:40 AM · Oistrakh!

July 25, 2004 at 05:25 AM · Milstein, Oistrakh, Heifetz are my top 3.

July 26, 2004 at 03:09 AM · If we are talking about most accomplished as in bring a new standard to violin playing (for me, at least) and helping the modern composers in inspiring new works and promoting them to the audience, I think Anne-Sophie Mutter should be added in the list as well.

July 25, 2004 at 07:42 PM · "Right now" would not include Oistrakh, Heifetz or Milstein!

July 25, 2004 at 09:21 PM · ^ Good one!!! ^

You have a good eye!! I didn't even noticed that part!!

July 26, 2004 at 02:50 AM · well to add my 1 cents worth. I think when thinking about accomplished technique, I would equate it a bit with being able to play naturally. The feeling you get from the performer is such that everything comes so nataurally to him and all techniques are just like your everyday actions you use in life. And then being able to translate all these to serve the purpose of the music and bring it out in the best manner to you. : )

July 26, 2004 at 07:29 AM · ""Right now" would not include Oistrakh, Heifetz or Milstein!"


Okay, sorry, I forgot about we were talking about current violinists.

My EXTANT top 3:

Hahn, Perlman, Shaham.

July 26, 2004 at 03:43 PM · In terms of technique, I would have to say Vengerov is the most accomplished, currently performing artist. Those live videos of Le Ronde des Lutins from his website are incredible, and he also recorded Ernst's Last Rose of Summer Variations when he was only 15... Artistically speaking however, I can't stand Vengerov! His squelched tone, ridiculous facial expressions, and extreme exaggerations make all of his interpretations seem... "circus-ey" . In response to the remarks about Elman, he did have an incredible bow arm, that allowed him to produce his immensely sonorous tone. The first time I heard a recording of Elman I wasn't sure that I was hearing a violin! Also, Elman influenced Auer to a significant degree in aspects relating to the bow arm.

July 26, 2004 at 04:01 PM · "Artistically speaking however, I can't stand Vengerov! His squelched tone, ridiculous facial expressions, and extreme exaggerations make all of his interpretations seem... "circus-ey" "

That´s not fair. He can play very tastefully to. I personally like a violinplayer to play wild and aggressive sometimes. It tends to get a little boring otherwise I think. Perlman is a bit to tame for my taste and his Paganini Capriccis are


July 26, 2004 at 04:19 PM · lol. Listen to Perlman's live recording of the 3rd Brahms sonata (I think with Argerich) and tell me if you think he is too "tame".

July 26, 2004 at 04:32 PM · LOL

July 26, 2004 at 05:22 PM · I don't know, but I personally think my teacher's pretty darn awesome and "up there", and I'm completely serious...considering he graduated in the same class as Perlman and Zuckerman from Juilliard....etc etc..

July 26, 2004 at 07:10 PM · Cynthia, who is your teacher? When I was in highschool, I studied with a teacher in the Davis area...I think I remember him telling me that he was standpartners with Zukerman in the Juilliard orchestra. :)

July 27, 2004 at 02:20 AM · this is an interesting topic. i think in order to answer the question who is the most acomplished violinist today takes some thought. it depends on what you mean by "accomplished". when i think "acomplished" i think mostly of aaron rosand, but also of ida haendel and itzack perlman. these violinists are accomplished i think in every aspect of their art and truly define what it means to be accomplished. although everybody here has favorite violinists and there's soo many that are accomplished (ex.shaham, hahn, vengerov, etc), not many i dont think can be said to be the "most accomplished". also, in my mind, most accomplished doesnt always have to be the most popular people or the most technical people. alot goes into being accomplished and (this is just my opinon) i dont think anyone mentioned above can hold a candle to these three. i could talk on this subject forever( there's alot to it)but i wont..

July 27, 2004 at 01:01 PM · I think the most accomplished violinist is Itzhak...he has the most experience i think. technique wise...i would say Sarah Chang, Itzhak, Midori, SHaham....maybe even chung....there are so many greats out there that they all are accomplished in their own ways....

I think Sarah Chang is pretty accomplished. Performing paganini con. #1 with the NY phil. without rehearsal on one day's notice at the age of 8? that's spectacular...

July 28, 2004 at 02:51 AM · Isaac Stern was one of the best ever.

Hey, at least he didn't run phrases together like that dead fish face Heifetz. Nothing against Heifetz, but he sure can't play Bach's Chaconne artistically for anything.

July 28, 2004 at 05:59 PM · wow.i disagree

July 28, 2004 at 07:22 PM · Whose interpretation,in your opinion, of the Bach Chaconne is the most artistic one then?

July 28, 2004 at 07:23 PM · Agree with what? That Isaac Stern was a great violinist? That Heifetz wasn't? Both? I think both Stern and Heifetz were great violinists, even if I don't always agree with Heifetz interpretations. I hate the way Heifetz rushes through the beginning of the Tchaikovsky concerto, but his Bruch Scottish Fantasy blows me away every time I hear it.

July 28, 2004 at 09:11 PM · I like Heifetz's chaconne, but by far my favorite recording of it is Menuhin's. Particularly at the end of the Art of the Violin documentary.

July 28, 2004 at 09:22 PM · I love Julian Sitkovetsky. In general, if I had to pick the top 5 recordings of that piece (in no particular order)they would be:

Milstein, Heifez, Grumiux, Sitkovetsky, and Enescu.

July 29, 2004 at 04:07 PM · Mariko honda

July 29, 2004 at 04:07 PM · takako nishizaki

July 29, 2004 at 04:07 PM · perlman

July 29, 2004 at 10:18 PM · this is sort of a silly thread i think, but i'd like to point something out. heifetz does move, watch him, he doesnt sway to the music at all, but he's constantly shifting his weight around to keep perfectly balanced, i dont konw why everyone says he stands so still.

July 29, 2004 at 10:44 PM · I agree with your observations about Heifetz. He does move.

Not anymore :)

November 13, 2004 at 06:43 PM · Personnally, I never heard a more "accomplished" violinist than Itzhak Perlman. In my view, he is not only the most accomplished, but also the greatest living violinist (and perhaps of all times). I know that this blunt statement can't be proven, but that's not the point: many true things can't be proven. Today, many people agree that J.S. Bach is the greatest composer of all times, and I think they are right. Itzhak Perlman has everything: technique (in this area, he leaves everybody behind him, as another great violinist, Isaac Stern, one day humbly recognized), musicality, passion, a great tone that he can vary in a great number of ways, understanding of the musical "message", subtility... you name it. Recently, a box named "The Perlman Edition", became available. I intend to buy all 15 CDs in it. I am very greatful that a musical genius like Perlman lives in the same world at the same time like me.

November 14, 2004 at 03:33 AM · Sarah, my teacher is William Barbini, and he is absolutely phenomenal.

(Sorry for the delay; I lost track of this thread for a little while :-D)

November 14, 2004 at 07:34 AM · Last week I went to see Alexander Markov and his technique is unbelievable! He played a few of the Paganini Caprices and it was amazing. Actually, amazing is an understatment. It blew my mind. I didn't know fingers could move that fast. I don't know if he's the best, but he's good. Very good!

November 14, 2004 at 07:39 AM · As far as Perlman is concerned, there is no doubt he has great technique. But I don't think I have ever thought about his playing in a technical way. Whenever I listen to him, he takes me beyond technique and right to the heart of the music. Perlman, more than any one else I have listened to, plays in such a way that you know he is feeling every note he plays. I think of Yehudi Menuhin in the same way. Ofcourse when you watch Perlman play, the heart he puts into it is even more evident. Over all I would have to agree with many of you that Perlman is the greatest around today and for many other reasons than technique.

November 14, 2004 at 09:01 AM · Finding the best violinist is akin to finding the most tasty dish; highly subjective.

November 14, 2004 at 11:06 AM · Greetings,




November 16, 2004 at 06:33 AM · Well, well, well... After reading so many varying answers, with Perlman as the recuring theme, I feel, as a musicologist and violin lover, I can put in my two cents too.

First off, Perlman alike Heifetz, will live on forever as 'that' icon of violinistic perfection. Of course the notion that Heifetz could even be considered great, to me is a load of bolderdash. However, the name and the myth, and more importantly, the discography/filmography of that cold showster will continue to live. So is the case with the leading violinist of the latter part of the 20th century, Maestro Perlman.

I should point out right away, that I was at his NY Philharmonic debut last year, where he gave an admirable, yet, not flawless, rendition of Bach's concerto in a, followed by a really nice Mozart symphony #29. The Dvorak symphony #8 that followed, however, showed a lack in conducting personality and conviction; or, to give him some credit, t'was a bit premature, and on the part of the orchestra there was not too much cooperation, even in the presence of one of the greatest violinists in history.

Having said that, I shall take the praise for Perlman a step further. His name is Ilya Gringolts. Quite new on the market, only a bit older than I, yet extremely gifted, and a true rising star worthy of our look out. Within the roster of really young violinists one finds him in the artistic section, whilst Hilary Hahn finds herself at the very end of a career in computerized Bach, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, etc. micro-chip performances.

After seeing her off in the crash of a system that does not work, we can evaluate what might happen to the young Julia Fischer. Is she going to follow that blinding quest for dead center tonality, or can she pull off a Ginette Neuveu? I just wish, and hope she doesn't follow in the flawed footsteps of her fellow German violinist collegue Anne Sophie Mutter. That would be a travesty.

What surprises me about this whole discussion is the total overlooking of two of our greatest violinists today. In passing, Pinchas Zukerman was mentioned. Not much respect for the one who deserves it...And what happened to Gideon Kramer? He no longer figures as the great musician whethered music lovers, who had known the playing of Heifetz first hand, reveared in the past and still do today? Both technicaly and musicaly, he is worth more accolades than any of us can muster.

Technical? Purely technical? Well I'll tell you...If you are going to measure the technique of a violinist by his/her Paganini, then let me introduce you to Alexandre Dubach, of Switzerland. He means nothing more on CD than a set of all six Paganini concerti, he has not shared with the world any more, to my current knowledge. To tell the truth, I shudder to think what his Beethoven might sound like; but his Paganini at least tells us that there is someone out there that can bury Salvatore Accardo's sorry excuse for Paganini concerti.

At the end, I must conclude with the names of two concert masters here in the USA, who fit the bill of "Great Violinist." In NY, Glenn Dicterow reigns over the reveared, and often overrated, NY Philharmonic. (Of course it is not his fault that the Philharmonic has been declining steadily.) Across the country in sunny California, sits a great violinist, of the topmost caliber, Bruce Dukov. A pupil of Milstein, and a fine miniature composer/arranger, Mr. Dukov leads the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. His 'Happy Birthday' variations for two violins, composed for Milstein's 80th Birthday, and then performed by Dukov vs. Perlman, is a popular show piece for virtuoso violinists who find the music exhilirating, as does the audience.

November 16, 2004 at 07:33 AM · David,

Ilya Gringolts is well known on the board, as he occasionally posts here.


November 16, 2004 at 11:28 AM · dare I mention the rawness and guts of Nigel Kennedy? If music be about passion at all.

Ilya is great, just listened to him on the way to work this morning. Driving through the golden autumn leaves, I was in a different World. It was the Tchai/Shosta album. One of the Shostakovich movements (I forget which) has that curious melodic, whistling, almost human, unbelievably captivating :) The awesome powers of a Strad.


Actually it was the Sibelius with the "whistling" from the Prok/Sibelius album : 6 Humoresques for Violin and Orchestra: No. 5, Op.89/3: Commodo

My Ipod had moved into the second album ! I really was day dreaming :)

November 16, 2004 at 11:03 AM · I'm not sure who I would pick for today. I believe that when the violinists get to a certain point it isn't a matter of how "good they are" anymore. Because of the fact that their playing has become so perfected, it really becomes a matter of taste and how you like their phrasing etc... I think Kaler, Perlman, Zukerman, Zimmerman, Shaham, and (I hate to say it but..) Vengerov are all at this level (and I may have missed a few). If I had to pick the one that appealed to me the most it would be Kaler. His Ysaye is unmatched. I've tried to think of better ways to phrase it and I just can't. He does that with Paganini caprices as well. If I could play ysaye, paganini, and bach with just a fraction of the perfection that he has, and then not learn another piece for my entire life, I would be very conent.

November 16, 2004 at 10:52 AM · Greetings,

Don, it's not the Strad, it's the player. I sound lousy on a Strad, trust me.



November 16, 2004 at 12:50 PM · LOL... Hmm I bet I could make one sing.. err... well err more like bark like a dog at the moment.

I would just like to touch one :)


PS: Noone has mentioned Vanessa Mae !!!!!!! ;)

November 16, 2004 at 01:33 PM · Likely no one's meantioned her because she doesn't play that well and doesn't even come close in comparison to most of the names meantioned above.


November 16, 2004 at 03:52 PM · She's a very elementary violinist. Although I have to say that the music video I saw of her dancing on top of taxis is most inspiring :)

November 16, 2004 at 04:02 PM · Sorry that was tongue in cheek (Mae) so to speak.

Maybe Ilya should produce a video for Vivaldi's Summer playing in his trunks on the beach with a team of dancers in grass skirts.. :)

November 16, 2004 at 05:22 PM · L.Shankar! I don´t know about today but I haven´t heard any player match his phrasing and glissandos.

November 16, 2004 at 07:11 PM · I agree with just about all the names mentioned above (and of course with the comment that it really makes no sense to try to order players numerically in terms of greatness). But I do have favorites, of course. My favorites of the generation slightly younger than myself are (in no particular order) Hilary Hahn, Ilya Gringolts, and Sarah Chang.

They all have different strengths. I especially like Hahn's late classical and early romantic stuff, and other things with similar feel (e.g. I'm sort of vaguely lumping together Mendelssohn, Beethoven, and Bruch). I like Gringolts' Tchaik (which, being my favorite violin piece, is largely my benchmark for a violinist...that and solo Bach) the best of the current generation, but I haven't heard Hahn's. I prefer Gringolts for the modern stuff like Sibelius/Shostakovich, but I haven't heard much of Hahn or Chang in this regards (and I'm not saying the others are lacking, just that Gringolts rocks). I wish Hahn would record the Tchaik.

So I like Hahn's early to mid 19th century stuff, and Gringolts' modern and Russian romantic music. Both Hahn and Gringolts have excellent (very different) solo Bach in my opinion. I can't really come up with any vague generalizations about what music I prefer Sarah Chang, but I love her Sarasate Carmen Fantasy and Vitali Chaconne. Hahn is the only one I have heard live (Prokofiev, and Bruch, both excellent), and I look forward to the chance to hear the others. Overall I am just glad there are so many real individual artists performing now (and I could all of them as such).

Gil Shaham is excellent, too. I love his Saint-Saens Concerto, and his Tchaik has a nice old-fashioned sound in parts. (Oistrakh, Stern, Elman and Rabin are my all-time favorites for the Tchaik so far.)

So I have no idea who the "best" is, but I think it's a great time to be a violin fan.

November 16, 2004 at 07:28 PM · vadim repin

November 16, 2004 at 07:31 PM · My vote is for Buri...

November 16, 2004 at 08:10 PM · Ha Ha Tim! I agree, Buri has the knowledge about so much stuff relating to music it would be a mountain stack if we transcribed it onto paper! I've never heard Buri play but I bet his playing's excellent!

I've only really heard a few modern violinists and I think the best in technique would be Vengerov or Hahn.

One-Sim :)

November 16, 2004 at 09:44 PM · Here is the link to the thread on the great violinist David Nadien which I started this morning that has not been published:

November 16, 2004 at 11:37 PM · Greetings,

It`s funny that David Nadien`s name doesn`t crop up so much. My colleagues tell me he is doing a lot of work in Japan and are just bowled over by his playing. I never heard him but his sound is said to be extraordinary.



November 17, 2004 at 07:13 PM · Carl, I really agree with your points on going overboard with things -- that's why I don't like Midori, Vengerov, etc., but in my opinion saying Hilary Hahn is better than Heifetz is a bit too much. I don't think Heifetz goes overboard at all, if anything he's extremely controlled and everything is done in good taste -- except his bach. Now for what I think, after Perlman who is gradually declining, I would say Shlomo Mintz. It's a pity that he's not very well known in America, I find him to be pretty much the best out there. Full of soul, immaculate technique, everything one could ask for. I wish he would make more CDs or at least do some stuff in America. I highly recommend his recording of the Caprices. They're my favorite so far.

November 17, 2004 at 07:21 PM · Oh, and I'm not only judging him by his Caprices. I also heard a recording of his Mendelssohn on a cassette which I don't think exists on CD.

November 17, 2004 at 10:20 PM · Can't remember what I wrote, but I'm sure I didn't mean to say that Hahn was better than Heifetz - just a matter of preference in certain repertoire (I'm sure I would prefer Heifetz to Hahn in the Tchaikovksky concerto).


November 17, 2004 at 11:17 PM · Ah. Good. Although Shaham is good, I don't feel he'll ever surpass how Perlman was at his peak due to some fundamental errors in his technique. Like his out of control vibrato which only works on some pieces, and his shifting. Other than that he's great and I enjoy his playing. I still think Mintz is better.

November 18, 2004 at 03:46 AM · what's wrong with shaham's shifting?

November 18, 2004 at 04:50 AM · Greetings,

Bob this is a few back, but I think Heifetz` ashes were thrown in the sea so technically speaking he does still move about. As Owen said, the great man moved quite a lot but it was not so easy to detect. Does moving help? I love watching Oistrakh. He used the most perfec double spiral movement thoughout his body on the those efofrless up and down bows. Watch the way he goes from one foot another and back continuously and so balanced.

Clinton, why do you have a thing about Japanese violinists?



November 18, 2004 at 08:47 PM · sarah chang!!!

November 18, 2004 at 09:02 PM · Mutter! Mutter! Mutter!

As in Anne-Sophie Mutter!

You go girl!

November 18, 2004 at 09:51 PM · I actually don't really like Anne-Sophie Mutter's playing. Well, at least not her recordings of the Mendelssohn concerto (is that the correct spelling?) and mozart 5.

November 18, 2004 at 10:48 PM · i would definetely not consider mutter to be the most accomplished violinist today

November 18, 2004 at 10:55 PM · wow... i love mutter's mendelssohn.... i think it was because it was the first recording of the mendelssohn that i ever heard, and it just amazed me.... i definitely think she's up there with perlman, chang, and menuhin

November 18, 2004 at 10:57 PM · Unlike a lot of other people, I don't really like Heifetz's playing either. In my opinion, all he does is play fast...

November 18, 2004 at 10:58 PM · oh... I listened to mutter's mendelssohn right after I listened to sarah chang's. And I liked chang's interpretation of the piece so much better.

November 19, 2004 at 12:15 AM · Hmmm... returning to this board, I would have to say that Vengerov is certainly the most technically accomplished (of currently performing violinists). As for musicality, I find most of the younger violinists to be either be extremely boring or tasteless. I prefer Perlman or Zukerman to them anytime. Old school all the way!

November 19, 2004 at 01:13 AM · Question: Can new school become tomorrow's old school, or is the quality something static? I mean did Perlman and Heifetz always sound old school, or is it acquired? Will Hahn become old school by the time she's in her fifties, do you think?

November 19, 2004 at 03:08 AM · I agree with Sean about Perlman and Zukerman, but not about Vengerov. And Mintz, for example, is pretty old school.

November 19, 2004 at 06:28 AM · Eduard Hanslick was a gifted young pianist, fresh out of school, when he decided he was going to become a lawyer. His love for music not withstanding, he figured his affiliation with music mustn't end with law. He turned to the distinguished and much despised career of 'music critic,' and successfully made a name for himself, albeit with much hatered on the part of the adventurous musician. In fact, he is credited with having instigated and created the infamous 'war' between Brahms and his followers, and Wagner and his gang. So conservative was he, that perfection, and only perfection, could elicit enthusiasm from his pen.

1861 was the first time Herr Hanslick encountered the artistry of the then young Joseph Joachim. He was so impressed, as you shall see, that as far as the music public new: if you made it with Hanslick, you've made it indeed.

With the masterful technique Herr Hanslick established for conveying thoughts of a musical experience, through words, I shall hereby, humblely, attempt to enunciate what was in the 19th century, what was brought into the 20th century, killed by Heifetz, and what our sorry situation today, violinisticaly speaking, is.

First off, without sounding weird or off the wall, all the greats, from Ysay, Enescu, Huberman, Joachim, Kubelik, and many others, through Sarah Chang, Hillary Hahn, Maxim Vengerov, ALL are alive. As long as you, with both your ears, can behold the sound any of the above mentioned coaxed/coax from the violin, they are very much alive.

The reason I say this is thus: we can hear for ourselves the playing that so impressed Hanslick, and the rest of Europe in the 19th century!

"The most important event of recent weeks was the appearance of Josheph Joachim...Young as he still is (he was thirty*), Joachim has been regarded for some ten years as the greatest living violinist; if Vieuxtemps (the greatest violinist imidiately after Paganini, though some argue that Ernst was more accomplished; Wieniawsky is not in this timeline*)is sometimes ranked with him, that in itself is proof of his greatness.

He (i.e. Joachim*) began with the Beethoven Concerto. After the first movement it must have been clear to everyone that here was no mere stunning virtuoso but rather a significant and individual personality. For all his technique, Joachim is so identified with the musical ideal that he may be said to have PENETRATED BEYOND THE UTMOST IN VIRTUOSITY-TO THE UTMOST IN MUSICIANSHIP. His playing is large, noble, and free. Not even the slightest mordent has the flavor of virtuosity; ANYTHING SUGGESTIVE OF VANITY OR APPLAUSE-SEEKING HAS BEEN ELIMINATED. This noble dedication is so striking in Joachim that only afterwards does it occur to one to consider his great technical equipment."

(*)=My insertions.

Now, you see there is something important to Hanslick.


Not a Heifetz that comes onto stage looking stiff like the Comandatore in the end of Don Giovanni, and demands your attention with a sorry excuse for a rendition of Bach or Mozart, because he has raizor sharp intonation.

Raizor sharp indeed, it cuts up the music to shreds, cuts right through my eardrums, and I still can't say I enjoyed myself, or even heard the music properly.

Thibaud, Jacques Thibaud, where does he end up? Elman, Zimbalist, Huberman, Enescu, all in oblivion.

I think Hanslick is forever right. I takes immaculate technique, but it takes too something far beyond technique. It takes the audacity of emotionalism. The first name that springs to mind, is the one and only, Nathan Milstein. All that Hanslick says about Joachim, applies to Milstein.

That holds true considering both raw virtuosity and mature musicality. Today, as many have suggested, we have, at least as far as musicality is concerned, Gil Shaham. Ilya Gringolts too, as I've previously asserted, masters the art of musicianship, albeit with a more impressive technique than that of Shaham.

However, do you think for a moment that mechanics of any kind, even nicely musicized, is acceptable? Can we just stand by and tolerate the post-Heifetzian digitality, rampant in the concert halls of the world?

Enter the supreame musician, as well as a great technician of the immortal violin. Nadja Salerno Sonnenberg. Need I say more?

Of course all will question my comment with its clear paradox with the text of Hanslick. All know that Ms. Salerno Sonnenberg is a showy violinist. In fact, she has been the most taken to task for her irritating stage presence.

I say simply: close your eyes and listen...

Since the days Elman, Huberman, Thibaud, Sarasate, Ysay, Joachim, Kubelik, and the rest, nobody has dared to stand up and play the way Ms. Salerno Sonnenberg plays.

Stand aside Anne Sophie Mutter, Hillary Hahn, even Sarah Chang (whom I strongly admire), and make place for one violinist, who though chronologicaly followes, but musicaly precedes, even Perlman.

And then, I maintain the greatness of Gideon Kramer is boundless.

November 19, 2004 at 06:34 AM · Greetings

>Enter the supreame musician, as well as a great technician of the immortal violin. Nadja Salerno Sonnenberg. Need I say more?


Enescu is my personal favorite Bach along with Milstyeinn. Thibaud is still widely available and can produce pharses of such heart stopping beauty I stop the cd player an dlisten over and over to the same fragment. Listen to his ebntry in the Chausson concerto for violin and string quartet...

Heifetz remains the standard for player sliek Szeryng, Oistrakh, Perlman which must mean something. And if others tried ot copy his standards and went the wrong way is it fair to blame him? Maybe, maybe not...



November 19, 2004 at 07:21 AM · We must give credit to the one who invented the violin :)

Otherwise how could we have all these wonderful artists?

November 19, 2004 at 07:19 AM · Buri,

Did those violinists admire him musically or technically? If musically, why did they pick another violinist, when often the greatest musicians are not violinists at all (though I admit this is very contentious)?

I think Heifetz was a great intepreter. He can sound incredibly exciting, but maybe (and perhaps this view is shared by many) he was a limited interpreter. For me, Oistrakh and Perlman are so great because they can be convincing with virtually any piece, whatever the style - Heifetz is very convincing in some styles, but much less so in others.

Any thoughts?


November 19, 2004 at 07:39 AM · David - Lovely writing!

But I can't agree. Sorry!

Milstein in his time played very "unconventionally" and som said that it was without emotions und just technique. I even have a musicdictionary that goes so far that it says (1955) "Milstein had the talent to be one of the great violinist but his quest for technique took overhand". Today we hail him for his deep interpretations of the classics, Bach, Beethoven and Brahms.

Heifetz on the other han was praized fo "Bringing the outmost feelings out from the simplest pieces to the audiences".

To say that nobody dares to play like Nadja is to say to that nobody dares to play like Ponty, Mae or what ever.

There are a lot of violinist, and yes Great ones to, that makes music their own. That is what makes them great!

Take Mullova's non vibrato Bach, her period Mozart or her deathlonging Shostakovich.

Vengerov playing Bach on barock fiddle. There are hundreds of examples even Mutter that you mentions.

But I don't see how Nadja can be in this top notch category, yet that is :)

November 19, 2004 at 08:07 AM · "Stand aside Anne Sophie Mutter, Hillary Hahn"

I'm all for that

November 19, 2004 at 08:45 AM · Carl, I agree with what you say about Oistrakh, Perlman and Heifetz. Repeating what I said earlier, I have to add that I think Perlman really is the most accomplished violinist I know. I don't care if he is old school or not, this kind of category doesn't mean a thing to me. All that counts is the MUSIC that is created. Besides all Perlmans qualities I already mentioned, I have to add his courage, not only his courage that permitted him to overcome his crippling handicap, but also his musical courage, his bravoure. There are hundreds of examples of that. Take for instance the speed with which he takes certain musical pieces: really, really breathtaking and plenty of bravoure (one can think of the 'Presto' of Poulenc (violn/piano), the 'Perpetuum Mobile' of Otakar Novacek, the 'Zapateado' of Sarasate and so on and so on). Although there are many great violinists alive these days, only very few are "member" of the "top notch club". In my view and in my ears, not only Perlman is in this "club", but he even is at the head of it (I don't know though if the rumours that he is gradually declining, are true: I didn't hear him live recently). I have no problem is saying that he is the greatest I know (greater than well, to mention a few other giants, Isaac Stern, Gil Shaham, Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, Midori, Hahn, Heifetz and perhaps even David Oistrakh).

November 19, 2004 at 11:16 AM · Greetings,

interesitng point Carl. Both Szeryng and Misltein spoke with admiration of him and since neither had any respect for technicians with no musicall depth I think that answers it. They were wise enough not to make a big distinction here.

The problem for me is what one means by interpretation. Heifetz perhaps viewed music thorugh his criteria of interpretation that prioritized beauty, fire, vibrancy, polsih, proportion and so forth. Tahtproduced one kind of result which I find awesome. Szigeti perhaps was concerned with the relationship between violin and human voice and the interelationship between pieces of music in general so he produced 'interpretations' through a different lens with diametrically opposed results.

What can I say?

I love them all,



November 19, 2004 at 04:03 PM · I guess I don't view interpretation quite like that. My view is that you can't have a 'one size fits all' approach to interpretation - so while you might go for a smooth cantabile in some pieces, it isn't appropriate everywhere. Each piece of music has to be approached as special unto itself - what are the particular qualities/characters that need to brought? etc.

This is what I think Oistrakh and Perlman did/does so well. Unfortunately, I don't think Heifetz comes quite up to scratch.


November 19, 2004 at 06:48 PM · "One size fits all" Carl is a ridiculous thing to say when referring to Heifetz's playing. He had one of the largest most versatile of interpretations and the most vocal style of playing besides Kreisler, Elman , or Seidel. Oistrakh to me did not have that. He didn't plays as in tune as Heifetz either if you want to compare those two at their respective peaks.

November 19, 2004 at 06:50 PM · I agree with Nate. Anybody who can't see that Heifetz's playing was always full of nuance and was absolutely not a "one-size-fits-all" approach just doesn't know what they are talking about. Go listen to his recordings, instead of making broad, false generalizations.

November 19, 2004 at 07:03 PM · Nate, I emphatically disagree on several counts. First off, you have, in the past, criticized established musicians so the "I try not to criticize anyone who can play better than me" statement isn't quite accurate. Second, the whole notion of being unable to critique anything that you can't do better is, quite simply, wrong. By that standard, no audience member who is not a musician has the right to an opinion or a musical judgment. I haven't the right to prefer a restaurant over another because both chefs cook better than me. I haven't the right to prefer an author until I've published, a painter until I've painted, an architect until I've designed or a dancer until I've reversed time and started ballet lessons at 6? Let's PLEASE bury this rebuttal to a critique; anyone has the right to criticize anything so long as there's some reason for the critique that isn't wholly superficial. Thus, "I like this restaurant because the waitress is pretty" is a silly reason for preferring one restaurant over another, and "I like Vanessa Mae 'cause she's hot and when she dances around the stage I get funny feelings below the belt" is similarly silly. However, "I like _____ because his/her performance moved me to tears/laughter/amazement" is valid, albeit not really debatable.

But with Heifetz, there is indeed room for debate and it is only a mark of ignorance to automatically genuflect before the Heifetz Altar when one does not, in one's secret heart, truly love his playing. For me, as I've written on this topic before, Heifetz is the aural equivalent of lemons and sorbet, of D'Artagnan's foil and Rick's immaculate white dinner jacket in "Casablanca". There is something pristine and crisp, uncompromising and utterly defined about his playing. But there are many works for which this is the wrong set of imagery. The Brahms concerto (hell, ANYTHING by Brahms, really), or the Tchaikovsky are two examples of works which, to me, speak of something massive as the ocean. Something mighty, unruffled, apocalyptic in its rage, sunrise-warm in its love. Noble, gigantic and broad. For this, Heifetz's pointed, crisp style is less suitable and I will run to the nearest store to get an Oistrakh recording.

The reason I happen to prefer Oistrakh in general to Heifetz, as I've written before to Edward Oh (where IS he, btw?), is that while Heifetz is a master of lemons and foils, Oistrakh is a master of anything. Certainly, I prefer the Heifetz renditions of the Saint-Saens Intro and Rondo, or of the Mendelssohn Concerto to Oistrakh's. But because Oistrakh is variable and can adapt, while Heifetz is less so and seems to have been unwilling or unable to do so, I find the former more versatile than the latter and thus, when making a judgment call between two otherwise equal artists, I opt for the one with the "extra ingredient".

Now, these are the reasons of a violinist. Other violinists have other reasons, and in many cases have other judgments. But to say that anyone who doesn't share a wholly subjective judgment is somehow musically deficient is just wrong. And preference is a) permissible, as we've established at the beginning of this post, and b) subjective when discussing preferences among demigods. Now, if someone says that they prefer some beginner to Heifetz you can definitely go off on them; there are definitely some limits to subjectivity where it does cross over into an objectively quantifiable, disprovable statement. We're not there yet, Nate.

November 19, 2004 at 09:40 PM · I don't think you're being fair Amy. I did not say that Heifetz had a 'one size fits all approach'. I used that term as a representation of the antithesis of Oistrakh's approach, and said that I think (NB the phrase 'I think' is not an assertion - it is an opinion) Heifetz did not quite have the same ability to do so.

Saying that I don't know what I'm talking about isn't really necessary. So, heaven forbid someone doesn't have a shrine to Heifetz in their house, have a little respect and tolerance, please?


November 19, 2004 at 09:49 PM · Nate,

I don't really give a monkeys about Heifetz's intonation. It's not like Oistrakh was a mediocre player, and I've never had a problem with his intonation.


November 19, 2004 at 09:55 PM · I have plenty of respect and tolerance. I am just recommending strongly that you go listen to Heifetz more if you don't see that his approach is highly changeable. You can choose to take that recommendation or not.

November 19, 2004 at 10:19 PM · Hey Emil,

First of all I do criticize established people. You make it sound derogatory to criticize anyone who has a career. I still live by those words of not criticizing anyone better than me like for instance Hilary Hahn. I like to shoot for the truth even when it does happen to deal with established musicians. Emil I never said Vanessa Mae was good. I even said she is "elementary" at playing the violin. You don't like her videos? :) Your feelings about Heifetz are quite fine. Although I have to disagree with you when you said Heifetz was not able to play anything by Brahms, or Tchaikovsky but according to you could play Saint-Saens and Mendelssohn even better than Oistrakh. I was simply pointing out in my post stating that "one size fits all" comment is a ridiculous and untrue statement to sum up Heifetz which I think any true music lover would agree.


November 19, 2004 at 10:07 PM · "I don't really give a monkeys about Heifetz's intonation."

Carl that's where we differ. There are very few violinists I listen to for that very reason: intonation. It is good musicianship to honor this responsibility over anything else I think maybe for the exception of playing in rhythm which is just as important which by the way Oistrakh did extremely well I have to say.

November 19, 2004 at 10:08 PM · Nate, so you would say you play better than anyone whom you criticize from established musicians? Brave words, my friend! Me, I just say that I can critique whom I chose to critique and leave the decision of whether I can do it any better to those who hear me.

Seriously, though, if you re-read my little essay you'll see that I am actually diametrically OPPOSED to the sentiment that one can't critique anyone if one can't do the same thing better (e.g. my restaurant analogy).

As for Vanessa Mae, I think we're all agreed on the fact that she's a very famous girl who looks good with a violin in her hands, though her knowledge of what to do with that instrument seems...well, "woefully lacking" are words which come to mind. So, again, we might be up against a misunderstanding here. I never said you liked her! And I did only bring her up as an example of where a subjective judgment (such as one where someone might say they like her BETTER than Heifetz) pours over into objectively, quantifiably false assertions. But comparing Heifetz to Oistrakh is not the same; it's not nearly as black and white.

As for my saying anything of Heifetz's Brahms or Tchaikovsky, please don't think I was saying I feel he couldn't play anything by those composers. I simply have never heard Heifetz imbue those composers with the qualities for which I look in their works (grandeur and gravitas as opposed to clarity and delineation). Of COURSE he could play Brahms. Just not in the way - or perhaps he CHOSE not to play in the way - I look for.

And in Carl's defence, I should add that the way I interpreted his "one size" comment was that the variety in Heifetz's sound, tempi, overall interpretation, glissandi, use of vibrato, etc. is less varied than, say, in Oistrakh's playing. In the case of both artists, one can tell from a few notes who it is that's playing. But, if we're to boil Carl's comment down to what I believe are its fundamentals, I think he was saying that Oistrakh plays Bach-Oistrakh while Heifetz plays Heifetz-Bach. Or Beethoven. Or Mendelssohn. Or, indeed, just about anyone. Heck, this might be a good thing, from a certain ideological perspective: the performer IS, after all, a co-creator of the work, together with the composer. But I do agree with Carl in that I hear far less difference between Heifetz-Mozart and Heifetz-Brahms than I do in Mozart-Oistrakh and Brahms-Oistrakh.

November 19, 2004 at 10:23 PM · What the heck. In spite of his reputation as someone who found an interpretation and could be relied upon to stick with it (as opposed to Milstein's changing bowings and fingerings from one concert ot the next), Heifetz's playing certainly did change over the years. For instance, his early (monaural) Glazunov recording is, to me, far richer and more subtle than his final one. I also find his approach in many vignettes to be not icily perfect, but rather perfectly suited to the piece. Can anyone play Havanaise with his suavity, or La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin (spelling?)-- Girl with the Flaxen Hair -- with such evocative grace? He certainly made some odd choices, such as recording both parts of the Bach double; in spite of his technical perfection I am quite often seduced and deeply moved by the depth of his musicality, as in Beethoven's 10th sonata (even though he races through #8). As far as his personality is concerned, it appears he was as hard on others as he was on himself, and in his declining years was quite isolated and unhappy, perhaps the result of his relentless quest for perfection and overweening self-confidence (not the most endearing of personal traits). Nonetheless, he left a priceless gift in occasional glimpses of a perfect marriage of impeccable technique and musical depth. If the former was at times more evident than the latter, that does not mean they did not co-exist at times to give the world many unmatched, unique musical moments. He also looked like my dad.

November 19, 2004 at 10:27 PM · I get the impression violin is about technique and being able to play other people's music, and not enough about composition itself.

Are these violin "greats" known for their composition? (I am clueless so information is needed)

November 19, 2004 at 10:43 PM · Emil I usually criticize musicians especially professional violinists in a different manner than most here; on a non subjective level. For instance I have the utmost respect for Hilary Hahn or James Ehnes however I might not agree with them completely on a musical level. I decide not to critique artistry but rather artisanship and leave my true feelings about these people to myself rather than being a music critic. That's ok if you and Carl don't like some of his recordings I understand. I however have loved his playing ever since I was 5 or 6 and own over 120 records of his. I at times can't see another way the Spohr 8th or the Mozart 4th should sound besides his.

November 19, 2004 at 11:10 PM · Ed, it seems the last violinist/composers died with ysaye and kreisler

November 19, 2004 at 11:16 PM · Amy,

I listen to Heifetz enough for my tastes. I do own several of his recordings and still listen to them. However, his recordings don't do it for me like Oistrakh's. No amount of additional listening will change that, I'm afraid.


November 19, 2004 at 11:25 PM · Nate,

It is an impossibility to analyse a violinist in a non-subjective way. Objective truths are ones that are universally agreed upon; since the comparison of violinists is clearly not universally agreed upon, how they stand in relation to each other cannot be objectively confirmed. I do not think that Oistrakh's intonation was worse than Heifetz's. Heifetz clearly deserves the praise he gets for his mastery of the instrument but I'm afraid I find the whole Heifetz phenomenon a little 'Emperor's new clothes'.

Emil expressed what I meant about 'one size fits all' excellently, especially the Bach example.

I'm not particularly enjoying this debate and rather we all agreed to have differing tastes.


November 19, 2004 at 11:36 PM · Nate, very well said and a sentiment with which I entirely agree. Artistry is subjective and artisanship isn't, you've hit it on the head there. And criticizing the latter is always permissible whether or not you can do better; it's a FACT that X played this or that piece out of tune or with a scratchy sound, but only your (or my opinion) that Y played this or that piece too sweetly or not sweetly enough or whatever. And I do hasten to add that I try to avoid saying that Y played it WRONG, merely that he played it in a way with which I don't agree. The ultimate compliment, of course, is that he played it in such a way that he forced me to then rethink my position! That's happened on a couple of occasions...but mostly if I don't agree, I might still see that the interpretation is consistent, and holds together well. That it is, in short, convincing. The closest I think we can come to saying that a subjective interpretation is "wrong" is when it is unconvincing, and/or goes in a direction thoroughly at odds with a composer's intentions. For instance, if someone were to play the Beethoven Concerto as some sort of Gypsy Romance, complete with slides galore, rhythmic freedom and off-the-cuff improvisatory inserts, I think we could safely say his approach were wrong, right? Or if someone played the Zigeunerweisen as though it was a set of Sevcik exercises, slowly and painstakingly and even, perhaps, cleanly but with all the panache of a chartered accountant...(hmmm. Come to think of it, I think I've been to that concert) then we could also say they were "wrong". But whether you prefer your Brahms with a more wiry sound or a more greasy one, more or less vibrato, faster or slower is, I think, a matter of non-debatable taste. At most, we could probably have an interesting chat about just why I want to hear it THIS way while you want to hear it THAT way. But even then there'd be no conclusive argument, I'm sure.

November 20, 2004 at 03:18 AM · I disagree with Emil that Oistrakh can adapt better than Heifetz. In fact I think it's exactly the opposite. Excluding Heifetz' bach which I admit I don't agree with at all and is played wrong (just my opinion), he can play everything else in the style it needs. A good example of this is that he plays almost like a GYPSY and it's crazy. Let's take Tzigane by Ravel, for instance. Heifetz' temperament, style, sparkle, is everything needed for that piece and he plays it with a Gypsy touch and it's absolutely magnificent. I heard Oistrakh play it and although it's good, if I didn't know the piece at all before hearing it, I would not suspect for a second that it would be called Tzigane. I don't think he plays it in the style at all. That's just one example and there are many others. I firmly believe Heifetz can adapt to any music and play it pretty much the way it should sound (not saying that's the only way it should be played).... but again, I don't feel like that about Bach so don't anyone tell me I'm wrong because of his Bach.

November 20, 2004 at 05:58 AM · Well then, to the people who prefer Oistrakh for Brahms and Tchaik over Heifetz, I guess we are just looking for different things in those pieces. I find that Heifetz captures the moods far better than Oistrakh, and find that Oistrakh plays too slowly and not as accurately as Heifetz. It's obviously just a matter of personal opinion, since I would choose to listen to Heifetz for any piece over Oistrakh.

November 20, 2004 at 12:25 PM · For people liking some stats, here is what I found at 'Mister Poll' in response to the general investigation: 'Who is the best violinist (you know)? :

Which of these has the best technique? Itzak Perlman (28%)Other (17%)Sarah Chang (15%)Vanessa Mae (8%)Isaac Stern (8%)Yehudi Menuhin (6%Gil Shaham (5%)Joshua Bell (5%)Cho Chiang Li (4%)Rachel Podger (0%)123 total votes

Who is the best to watch? Itzak Perlman (20%)Vanessa Mae (15%)Other (15%)Yehudi Menuhin (10%)Joshua Bell (10%)Sarah Chang (10%)Isaac Stern (5%)Gil Shaham (5%)Cho Chiang Li (2%)Rachel Podger (2%)119 total votes

Best looking (hey why not?)

Vanessa Mae (40%)Joshua Bell (14%)Other (13%)Sarah Chang (11%)Itzak Perlman (5%)Gil Shaham (4%)Cho Chiang Li (3%)

Isaac Stern (2%)Rachel Podger (1%)Yehudi Menuhin (1%)109 total votes

Who is the most modern/meets the modern demands? Vanessa Mae (26%)Joshua Bell (13%)

Other (12%)Itzak Perlman (12%)Gil Shaham (11%)Sarah Chang (10%)Isaac Stern (4%)Yehudi Menuhin (3%)Rachel Podger (1%)Cho Chiang Li (1%)

104 total votes

Who has the best discography? Itzak Perlman (34%)Other (12%)Vanessa Mae (10%)Yehudi Menuhin (10%)

Isaac Stern (9%)Joshua Bell (7%)Sarah Chang (6%)Gil Shaham (5%)Rachel Podger (3%)

Cho Chiang Li (2%)

98 total votes

The most talent? Sarah Chang (26%)Itzak Perlman (22%)Other (11%)Yehudi Menuhin (10%)Joshua Bell (7%)Vanessa Mae (7%)Isaac Stern (5%)Gil Shaham (4%)Cho Chiang Li (2%)

Rachel Podger (0%)

103 total votes

Who has the most flair? Itzak Perlman (19%)Vanessa Mae (18%)Other (13%)Isaac Stern (10%)Joshua Bell (9%)Gil Shaham (8%)Sarah Chang (7%)Yehudi Menuhin (7%)Cho Chiang Li (3%)Rachel Podger (2%)

96 total votes

Who plays with the best expression?

Itzak Perlman (26%)Sarah Chang (15%)Other (12%)Vanessa Mae (11%)Isaac Stern (10%)Joshua Bell (8%)Yehudi Menuhin (7%)Gil Shaham (5%)

Rachel Podger (3%)Cho Chiang Li (1%)

98 total votes

Who has the greatest personality/who would u most like to be around? Itzak Perlman (19%)Other (18%)Vanessa Mae (13%)Isaac Stern (10%)Sarah Chang (10%)Joshua Bell (9%)Yehudi Menuhin (7%)

Gil Shaham (5%)Cho Chiang Li (2%)Rachel Podger (2%)

92 total votes

Who has the best violin

Itzak Perlman (25%)Other (14%)Yehudi Menuhin (10%)Vanessa Mae (9%)Isaac Stern (9%)Gil Shaham (8%)Sarah Chang (7%)Joshua Bell (6%)

Cho Chiang Li (5%)Rachel Podger (2%)

94 total votes

which one has the best musical taste?

Itzak Perlman (20%)Joshua Bell (16%)Vanessa Mae (13%)

Isaac Stern (11%)Other (10%)

Yehudi Menuhin (9%)Gil Shaham (8%)Sarah Chang (6%)

Cho Chiang Li (2%)Rachel Podger (0%)

93 total votes

And last, after all of that, who is the best overall

Itzak Perlman (27%)

Sarah Chang (14%)

Other (13%)

Isaac Stern (9%)

Yehudi Menuhin (9%)

Vanessa Mae (8%)

Joshua Bell (6%)

Gil Shaham (4%)

Cho Chiang Li (2%)

Rachel Podger (2%)

108 total votes

A highly revealing poll I would say...

November 20, 2004 at 03:00 PM · You know, this kind of topic concerns me a great deal, as the debate turns into tearing apart violinists or putting others on pedestals. I'm not saying that critiquing or having an opinion is a wrong thing to do, but there are so many approaches, and so many ways of playing the violin that the rigidity worries me.

Here is a thought from Ysaÿe that to me makes a lot of sense (in original french, translation after):

"Il faut entendre un artiste pour ce qu'il a à nous offrir, et non pour ce qu'on veut qu'il nous donne."

In english: "We have to listen to an artist for what he/she has to offer us, and not for what we want him/her to give us."

I think that is good advice indeed.

November 20, 2004 at 07:34 PM · Okay, violinists out there right now - and I'm only talking technique here, not musicality (and my opinion is based almost entirely around recordings):

Itzak Perlman must rank high on any list.

Nigel Kennedy is stunning.

So must Anne-Sophie Mutter.

And Sarah Chang.

And Hilary Hahn.

One must also not forget Andrew Manze and Rachel Podger. Period instrument or not, their technique is stunning.

I'm not sure whether susanne Lautenbacher is still alive or not (if she is, she'd be over 80), but she is also one of my favorites for a superb technique.

I haven't mentioned other favorites, because I tried to confine this list to people still performing.

November 21, 2004 at 12:56 AM · >>Posted via on November 19, 2004 at 4:10 PM (MST)

Ed, it seems the last violinist/composers died with ysaye and kreisler >>

'Tis a sad thing, but it happens that I am alive. :P

November 21, 2004 at 07:17 AM · Christian, your post is right on the mark! I sent a personal e-mail to Pedro regarding exactly what you graciously posted, but not with the insightful words which you have offered to us! There are so many different ways, methods, approaches, whatever, and so many wonderful artists corresponding to the many techniques. It makes this type of question become a public opinion poll. :)

If one is to accept that technique is the foundation upon which an artist builds his/her sound and style, then it makes perfect sense that it is the sound and style that the auditor finds of preference which guides opinions of "who's the best" debates. I can not agree more: these type of questions trouble me immensely. I don't feel it was Pedro's intention, however, to have his query turn into a huge debate.

In art it is the many varying styles and ways that make artists develop their personal stamp. And like the visual artists, I feel we are enriched by the varying styles and methods. Who can choose just one! :) Impossible!

November 21, 2004 at 11:22 AM · Jen, you are right in saying that in art (like elsewhere), there should be a variety of "ways" and styles. Otherwise, the result would be a very regrettable reduction, a terrible loss in "richness" (well, I hope you see what I mean, I don't find the adequate english word). However, the truth is subtle, it usually can't be confined to one, simple statement (in that sense, truth is "rich" too). That's why, from time to time, it is possible - despite a great variety in what many artists have to offer - to designate a musician, in this case a violinist, who clearly is "reigning". Personnally, I have no problem in saying that at a certain moment (or rather: during a certain period), when he was at his peak, Perlman was - speaking in overall terms - the "best" violinist in the world. I don't know if Pedro wanted to start a huge debate about the issue of the most accomplished violinist (an issue that, by the way, this debate extended substantially the original subject, since very soon the issue became more focused on who could be considered the "greatest" violinist), but if he did, I certainly don't blame him. It find it passionating to read what others think about the (extended) subject.

November 21, 2004 at 04:27 PM · Jen,

Thank you so much. I agree also with all that you had to say, and well said. Cheers!

November 22, 2004 at 08:19 PM · Ehnes is also one of the greatest without a doubt

Apparently he will be releasing the Dohnányi Concerto on the Chandos label, a step up for him. (I adore the music of Dohnányi)

I dont think his sound has been well captured on disk yet, lets hope the label upgrade will yield a better representation of his tone

November 23, 2004 at 03:40 AM · Scott,

The Dohnányi is already available in the states. And I was also informed by Emily Liz on this board that he has just recorded the Dvorak Concerto on Chandos as well. This is due out early 2005. This can be confirmed in the "biography" section of James's website (strange it is not listed under the discography section).

Anyway, I would like to offer a contrasting opinion in response to the notion that Ehnes's sound has not been well captured thus far. I actually think the opposite is the case. To me, his sound is magnificently captured, and I never fail to be enraptured by the beautiful sound he produces on record, aided to a small extent by his 1715 Strad on loan from David Fulton.

After purchasing James's Kreisler CD, I contacted Walter Homburger and expressed my delight that the recorded sound of his violin had suddenly "improved" (and his subsequent recordings to my ears all have this "improved" sound. I was actually wondering if James was using a different bow or strings (or both).

Walter explained to me that James was simply working very hard hand-in-hand with the recording engineer to produce the best possible realistic recorded sound - something I feel he, together with the recording and balance engineers - has achieved.

Anyway, back to the original question as to the best technique, I would have to state James Ehnes, Hilary Hahn and Shlomo Mintz of the current performing generation and David Oistrakh and Ruggero Ricci of earlier times. In fact I have only recently heard a 1996 recording of Ricci and he was still amazingly impressive technically at 78 years of age.

November 23, 2004 at 03:49 AM · Ok in order to add to the confusion may I add 2 more names. Mikhail Kopelman and William Preucil. Although both of them have not taken the soloist path but I feel something special in their playing from their recordings. Has anyone seen them live before?

November 23, 2004 at 04:31 AM · Apparently Ricci is a terrible teacher. My teacher studied with him for about a year and told me he's really bad, and there was a masterclass just yesterday that I didn't go to but my friend did and she said it was terrible.... not that that has anything to do with this board....

November 23, 2004 at 05:12 AM · I've been to a masterclass with Ricci to and i liked it!

November 24, 2004 at 06:32 AM · Maybe it was good, I'm just saying what others have told me. Also, the level at that masterclass wasn't very high so I guess, to give him credit, you can't do much with people that can't really play their pieces.

November 24, 2004 at 09:17 AM · So true!

And the dude is getting up in "Buri-class" age now so he might not have the the same energy every day.

November 24, 2004 at 11:00 AM · Greetings,

yep, my weird offspring wore me out. There was this changeling that was too ugly to hug and he turned into a Swedish virtuoso. So be warned, hug the ugly buggers too, or the price can be really high...



November 24, 2004 at 04:57 PM · My teacher had some lessons with Ricci at the University of Michigan, and said he was a really nice guy who seemed to know alot about the violin and technique (not really a big surprise there!) She said he was a big help to her; maybe he was just having an off day when he taught those other classes then? He does have those occasionally...

November 24, 2004 at 05:04 PM · I think it is wrong coming around to judge violinist to see who is or was the accomplished violinist..

I think it is upon the violinist themself to decide if they have accomplished their level of capacity, technique, and overall musical greatness they can achieve with themselves...

November 26, 2004 at 12:05 AM · I personally like Boris Belkin's playing a lot. In my opinion, he's one of the best alive right now. After all, there must be some reason why he's such a favourite of Vladimir Ashkenazy and is appearing at the finest concert halls around the world. He mentioned to me an Asia-wide NHK broadcast in 2006 with Ashkenazy; watch out for that!

November 26, 2004 at 12:24 AM · why me, of course!

November 26, 2004 at 08:36 AM · Ryan,

Of course it is not wrong to judge a violinist. We are not talking here about whether or not a violinist is still capable of growth. That's indeed a question he or she only is able to answer. But the violinist is (or should) not in the first place play for himself (or herself), but for his (her) audience. And again, of course, the audience is allowed to judge his (her) skills, and will always do so.

November 26, 2004 at 09:13 PM · Thanks Jonathan

I cant wait to hearthe new ehnes, tone was my only complaint I wonderhow much better it is...

you know he is playing oistrakh's violin the ex marsick

November 27, 2004 at 12:04 AM · Scott,

James Ehnes actually plays a different Marsick Strad then the one Oistrakh used. Marsick owned two Strads, both different years. Ehnes' Strad was made in 1715 and Oistrakh's was 1705 if I remember right.

November 28, 2004 at 01:42 PM · i like Hilary Hahn's Bach if u are talking about techniques but i dun agree with her interpretion on it... She has a very promising future indeed but in knowledge i believe she still has more to learn (in my opinion)... hhmmm.. i believe that every violinist has their own unique way of playing.

Recently, i saw an old recording on Christian Ferras playing Sebelius concerto.. he was great! He actually cried when he played the 2nd movement.. but he has his flaws too..

i am sure all violinist hv thier good and bad.. so let's dun take it too personally.. hehe =)

November 28, 2004 at 02:05 PM · didnt know that kels

November 28, 2004 at 04:06 PM · Hilary Hahn, no doubt

November 28, 2004 at 07:41 PM · Yeah Hilary Hahn is growing pretty well. I have that video of Christian Ferras playing the Sibelius and I thought he did it really off, especially the beginning. In my opinion, the beginning is should have like an atmospheric feeling and he played it all powerfully with wide vibrato and big slidy shifts. Just how I feel. I think Heifetz plays it the best, along with many other pieces.

November 29, 2004 at 05:31 AM · haha.. i hv heard alittle on Heifetz playing and many many comments about him.... his intonation and clarity of every note is superb... but he seem to lack that... well.. that feelings and that warmth of the music....

Sarah Chang is not bad. I heard her played chaccone by Vitali and she sounded very wonderful. It seem to bring me into another atmosphere and the feel was there.. i will recommend her if u are looking for a recording on chaccone by Vitali...


November 29, 2004 at 10:32 AM · Bob, Pamela, Enosh, with respect to Hilary Hahn, it would like to quote Peter Ferreira on July 18th: 'You cannot compare Parlman with Hilary Hahn, she's not even close to Perlman'. Indeed, I hink that is well said, well observed. Hilary Hahn lacks just that "little" (which, in fact is a ver "big" thing) thing that could make of her a genius like Perlman. To mention only this among other things): she lacks the warmth, the power of passion Perlman has. technically she is very skilled, but even there she doesn't reach Perlman's talent.

November 29, 2004 at 10:39 AM · yup, i totally agree with u Jan that's why i said Hilary Hahn is good if we are talking about techniques but as for musicality and knowlege of music, i believe she has much much more to learn. Hilary Hahn is young but she has a very promising future while pearlman is an experince violinist. haha..


November 29, 2004 at 11:04 AM · Greetings,

but maybe what Jan is getting at is that if you 've gotta learn it you probably don"t have it;)?



November 29, 2004 at 11:10 AM · hhhmmm ok... thanks Buri.... hahaha!! =)


November 29, 2004 at 02:15 PM · It seems to me we're talking about two different things:

1. What does a general audience most appreciate about a performer/performance.

2. What does a professional musician most appreciate about a peer.

I doubt most general audiences care about how much total music a performer knows, as long as they take away something they enjoy from the performance...and they may not even be fully aware of what it is that they enjoyed (in musical terms).

I'm also going to guess that professionals would most appreciate others that have the same, or better, ability than they do. However, this appreciation is likely also clouded by professional jealousy...some comments I read remind me of vultures waiting for a death (ie. mistake) so they can swoop down and feast.

As an example, I have read so many glowing reports of Hilary Hahn (and in these forums, Mutter) - mostly by what I would consider general audience members. And I have read so many reports by pros just dissing her.

These conflicting reports make it hard for me to form my own objective opinion(s).

Am I out to lunch with this observation?

November 29, 2004 at 07:22 PM · You are not out to lunch at all. Or maybe you are. Maybe i have too much professional jealousy to admit that you're not. Your point is well taken, N.A., and speaks to the ridiculous assumption that professional musicians are in any way more developed spiritually or any way (other than musically -- perhaps) than others. While music may "Have charms to soothe the savage beast," the beast turns beast again when hungry -- or jealous, etc. (If made to wait too long -- the beast will eat the musician.) I know insurance salemen who have more heart and compassion and insight into the human condition, and are better able to really "soothe the savage beast" than any musician I know, and I know many. Great artists have been murderers, great musicians are as likely to be the same. The gift of music does not confer upon the giver or the receiver any spiritual superiority other than that which our arrogance imagines. Sorry. I meant to discuss Mutter's vibrato.

November 29, 2004 at 08:05 PM · One of my favorites, part of the Perlman era in discussion, not yet mentioned: Oscar Shumsky.

He was a quiet great, and though not volumnous in solo recordings, belongs with the best. Try his Ysaye and also the Biddulph releases of old radio recordings, such as the Wieniawski Polonaise. Really good technique combined with beautiful tone and artistic expression. Emphasized flowing technique and line over perfection. Powerful sound.

November 29, 2004 at 09:11 PM · Alan,

You make some interesting points. However, I would say that the more exposure you get to a given activity (such as listening to recordings of violinists, or tasting wine) the more discerning your tastes become. Wine tasters with a very refined palatte will be able to detect subtle (and no doubt to them important) differences in quality and flavour. Similarly, violinists will tend to have more exposure to different player's sounds, styles and tastes and perhaps will have a more highly refined idea of what sounds good and what doesn't (to put it bluntly). It is interesting that there seems to be an overwhelming consensus amoung violinists that Itzhak Perlman is (or at least was) up there, and he consistently comes out as a favourite. However, of my non violinist friends, practically no-one thinks of Perlman as any more or less great than anyone else. To them, he is simply 'another violinist'.

I do agree with you though, taste is highly subjective and good taste is by no means synonymous with being a musician.


November 29, 2004 at 10:56 PM · Thanks to Alan and Carl...I haven't quite got it all figured out for my own purposes, but thoughtful replies like yours are much appreciated.


November 30, 2004 at 12:05 AM · Greetings,

Simon. I heard Shumsky play the Mendellssohn on his `back to being a soloist `tour of England.




November 30, 2004 at 12:35 AM · Why is it that when we talk about accomplishments, we often associate it with solo work only?

My vote goes to Itzhak Perlman, because he has contributed so much to the violin world in other things IN ADDITION to performing great concerti and show pieces.

For example, holding a violinist's perspective, Perlman has also evolved into:

- an accomplished conductor

- an accomplished teacher

- an accomplished chamber musician

- a spokesman for overcoming childhood conditions

- a bridge between classical music and mass media (ie. gigs at the Academy Awards)

- a marketable icon of classical music

I don't know too much about his humanitarian (think Rostropovich) activities, or his involvement in music of other cultures (ie. Yo-Yo Ma), but I don't think there are too many living violinists out there who has contributed to society-at-large as much as Itzhak Perlman.

November 30, 2004 at 03:11 AM · Whoa Jan, you don't have to tell me. I don't think anyone alive today comes close to Perlman, especially not Hilary Hahn. Perlman in my opinion is in a league of his own (among violinists alive today). And in response to Pamela, I disagree. I do think Heifetz has that "something". I don't think that "something" can only be acheived by warmth, which Heifetz might not have alot of, but I still think he has plenty of "something".

November 30, 2004 at 04:03 AM · So much to read, gah i needed 2 cups of coffee to reach the end...

The irony is that however great someone is, we always seem to make them feel boring enough.

Marketing classical music is an unessary expense on the musician. One should be able to keep his muical interpretation and have less critisism for individuality.

The personal accolates the minority have, are not a reflection of their accomplishments. We might never know who accomplished more, overcame more odds and had more adversity.

We sit by and comment on situations that we don't even know how function.

I still find it sadly deplorable, that classical music WAS well loved.

November 30, 2004 at 04:04 AM · hhmmm i hv yet to watch Heifetz recording so i can't comment so much but those few recordings i hv seen.. i dun seem to feel the music... but i got to admit his skill is very good... i opened my jaw when i heard his playing... and wondering how he did it.. hahaha!! He plays quite fast though.. sometimes too fast... haha...

I really like Hilary Hahn too.. and her bach impress me but she play alittle too romantic style..which i dun quite agree on that part but overall she is a fine violinist..

I recently saw Oistrakh playing.. and that i am quite amazed too... he is one of my favourite.. =)

November 30, 2004 at 04:17 AM · i totally agree with u Sum... i believe we should respect individual playing and learn to appreciate and perhaps open to different kinds of playing that the performers hv for us... =)

November 30, 2004 at 10:06 AM · Just as an aside (and a bit of fun) to this interesting thread, I thought I would run a little experiment.

As people filtered past my office at work ( I am near the kitchen and coffee machine :) I asked them to name as many famous violinists that they could. Out of 12 people asked the same 4 names came out. Here are the results

Yehudi Menuhin 12/12

Paganinni 10/12

Nigel Kennedy 10/12

Vanessa May 9/12

(somebody mentioned Stradivarius, I guess he did play the violin but I didn't include him LOL )

If asked if they had heard of Heifetz, Perlman or Milstein.... One person asked if they were beers... LOL

Ok it doesn't say much about their abilities but the above four must have accomplished something to become household names ! Actually I believe our young Nigel still holds the record for the top selling Classical album of all time in his Four seasons release.


November 30, 2004 at 02:50 PM · Don,

The answer is simple. Menuhin became famous to non-musicians because of his many international humanitarian activities. Paganini is somewhat of a historical legend, and there is always the phrase "the Paganini of their instrument."

Nigel Kennedy is best known in Britain for his popularisation of Vivaldi, and Vanessa Mae is known because of her crossover into pop.


November 30, 2004 at 11:02 PM · What do you guys think about Kyung-wha Chung? She really paved the way for Asians in terms of going "BIG". I know that she might not have as much technique or talent as lets say Sarah Chang (This statement comes after I heard that Chung practiced for almost 13 hours a day and Chang only practiced about 2 or 3 but Chang still had better technique, cleaner sound and shifts and whatnot)but I really think that Chung made the whole world realize the Jewish and russians weren't the only ones who could go "BIG". Because of Chung we have huge stars of the present like Chang, Midori, Suwani, even cellists like Han-na Chang and whatnot.

I really think in terms of the "Younger" violinists, I really like Chang and Hahn. But you really can't compare the two because they are so different. Sarah Chang is the virtuoso type player where as Hahn tries to be a bit should i say beautiful?

I know that hahn did not play the Paganini concertos and caprices after about 3 or 4 years of playing the violin as Chang did so in terms of Technique, Chang is flawless and definetely more solid but i would say Hahn plays more beautifully (and musically).

I really have fallen out of liking for Mutter because she is kind of taking the wrong turns and she sounds really different then she did 5 years ago. I really liked her back then. I really think that the young women violinists are trying to use sex appeal to be more popular or something. I know that Sarah Chang is very hot =P and she does not hide that fact. I know Mutter is very attractive too and some of her CD covers are very eye-POPPING.

But overall, I would definetely say that Itzhak Perlman is the most accomplished violinst living. I mean who could disagree with that?

Even though i LOVE Chang, Hahn, Midori and etc, THEY DO NOT COMPARE TO Perlman!!! I can say that for sure.

November 30, 2004 at 11:46 PM · I would disaggree, I think Hilary Hahn is a much more solid, technical, and cleaner player than Chang is. Chang could play all the concertos before she was 10, but still Hahn caught up in her teens. And I've never heard Hahn hit one wrong note, in performance.

December 1, 2004 at 01:25 AM · i heard one funny sounding note in her chaconne:)

December 1, 2004 at 01:38 AM · I hear all sorts of funny sounding notes coming out of Bobby Mcferrin's mouth. So what?

December 1, 2004 at 02:29 AM · I don't care who can play what at what age, it's about once you've made it, who is actually better? At least for me.... some people put importance into who can play what at what age.

December 1, 2004 at 03:42 AM · Greetings,

Carl, some good points about why such and such are famous. Only one I am not convinced about is Menuhin and the humanitarian bit. Just personally, I doubt if the public is aware of thes eot any great extent, or even the average musician for that matter. Imay be wrong but I also think his humanitarianism was primarily linked to cause celebres muscians such as Rpostropovitch and Oistrakh. No less important for all that but not to be confused with Chomsky! I mean he comments on the Devil`s instrument about how no sweat shop worker was ever exploited like Oistrakh. That does tend to highlight his lack of empathy with wider humanitarian issues.

I prefer to think that he was of such awesome talent as a prodigy that he became associate d in the popular consciousness with prodigism and that has stuck in our culture for all this time. I mean he really did make a differne timpact to say Chang, who was astonsihing everyone with Paginini at 8 or whatever. For sure thta is awesome but it was hardly deep performances in the way Menuhin appeared to people as a supremely mature, ground breakinf artist in a kid`s body. Such was the awe he generated audiences would be struggling to touch his clothes.



December 1, 2004 at 04:27 AM · I agree.... too bad he could hardly play in his middle years.... and I'm not saying it to insult him or anything, it really is too bad.

December 1, 2004 at 07:22 AM · Buri,

Fair enough. But I'm sure I read somewhere (in the Burton biography perhaps) that Menuhin had much active involvement in UNICEF. Also, he set up so many festivals and schools he was sure to attract media attention. Let's not forget there is a famous school in Britatin named after him!

For a long while (mainly in the 90s I noticed this) CD shops tended to have loads of Menuhin compliation CDs, and thus he got perhaps more exposure to the less 'serious' classical listeners than other violinists.

But undoubtedly his precociousness played a part in his current fame.


December 1, 2004 at 10:41 AM · Greetings,

as usual your memory serves you well. However, I am still ot convinced thta is going to get you remembered byt he public. Other UNICEF spokespeople- well, our good friend mr Vengerov for example...

The other reason people remember Menuhin may be a little before your time but one of Eric Morecombs most commonly used jokes was :

Ernie, I just bought an old violin.

Really! Why?

Coz I gave Yehudi mynewun.



December 1, 2004 at 10:53 AM · Funny you should mention that. I asked some of my colleagues how they knew about Yehudi more so than any other violinist. They mentioned that he was a regular guest on the Morecambe and Wise show LOL. I know in the UK he was frequently on TV and was definitely the first violinist I was introduced to as a child.

I guess that's the secret, TV, all of the famous "High Street" violinists have appeared regularly on National Television. I wonder if we will see any other future violinists given their kind of status. Will they need to be pop crossover violinists? Actually do we care ? teehee

It is quite sad when you see a great musician recording "pop" type stuff just to sell records. The classic example is James Galway. I was recently given his Wings of Song album as I play the flute I guess, I just found it all too too sugary sweet, almost sickly.

For this reason I gave Joshua Bell's "Romantic Violin" a wide birth only relenting and buying it on Itunes as I have booked to see him in the New Year and wanted a taster of his sound. I have to say I am really happy with the album, I think he produces a great romantic sound but yet has some depth to his playing. Looking forward to seeing him live.


December 1, 2004 at 05:10 PM · A wide berth or a wide birth? The latter sounds painful (especially for a man)

December 2, 2004 at 03:34 AM · Sarah Chang does not have more solid technique than anyone.

The number of hours spent each day is not a reciprocal and should never be used as a gauge of a player's ability.

If you really need comparison of technique.

Heifetz Vitali chaccone

Sarah Chang Vitali Chaccone.

December 2, 2004 at 05:09 AM · I'm going to go out on a limb here and nominate Richard Tognetti of the Australian Chamber Orchestra for this coveted prize of best violinist.

Ok.. maybe I'm geographically biased... but I like his stuff.. even though he hasn't really gone solo.

December 2, 2004 at 10:26 AM · Mike - OUCH LOL! of course we all know that Joshua Bell was BORN with a violin in his hands.. painful indeed :)

December 2, 2004 at 01:40 PM · To my opinion the technical skills were a presupposition to enter a podium (this may have changed in our days) – so virtuosity can barely be a real criterium for the ranking among interprets. The interpretation makes the music and it’s at the latitude of the listener. Otherwise it could come to the new brave world of music-making as described at the internet site You can indeed not have a „one size fits all“ – therefore it would bring better results if it were to change the perspective: take one piece and compare the different

interpretations. To give two examples from the piano world: for Beethoven and Mozart I know nobody else better then Gulda (but I cannot become enthusiastic at his play of Schumann piano concerto), while in playing Schubert Brendel seems to me inegalable, not so when working on Mozart or Beethoven.

December 2, 2004 at 02:36 PM · Artur,

I thought we were talking the violin here... lol ;-)

December 2, 2004 at 03:26 PM · Artur,

Very interesting points. Personally, I prefer Richter for Schubert, but that's beside the point. So many players (of whatever instrument) can play all the notes, but to really excel at the music they play is something else completely.


December 2, 2004 at 04:27 PM · Jan,

My preferences for pianists were intended merely as examples; I know the forum I am in. I was myself a much promising violin“scratcher“ (according to the family, to my acquaintance, to my personal „Louis Persinger“ up to the most renowned teacher at the Vienna Music Academy) from the 6th to the 19th year of my life. Your posting from

November 13, 11:43 as the contribution of Ryan from November 14, 12:39 are in full concordance with my views, but I would not switch to a new theme. Moreover I am glad to assist this interesting debate over celebrities, who – in part – dominated my childhood and youth.

December 11, 2004 at 10:36 PM · And the rest is silence, which is essential to music...

December 13, 2004 at 03:21 AM · most technical of today's players?

eugene fodor.

December 13, 2004 at 03:26 AM · Greetings,

even for an old geezer like me, Mr Fodor is one of yesterday@s players,

Tempes Fugit (or soemthing like that)


December 13, 2004 at 01:44 PM · lol jan

December 14, 2004 at 08:51 AM · Earlier somebody wrote that Mr. Perlman did not do much in humanitarian things. No, he is indeed not loudly advocating for a humanitarian cause or some political higher goal. But whomever encounters Mr. Perlman, knows that his life is one big humanitarian cause. As far as I know he is indeed not a spokesman for an organization, but let me tell you this, I don't know a lot of people that do more of other people as Mr. and Mrs. Perlman. They really take care of the people around them. While I was in the hospital in New York, I heard from the doctors Mr. Perlman regularly called them to make sure they were doing their job. When needed they offered to help in more ways than supporting me emotionally. They will go through great lenghts to help people. Not in the name of an organisation, just in the name of being there for other people. And my guess is, that anybody that encounters Mr. Perlman knows, feels and sees it.

Mr. Perlman is in my eyes (which arent completely objective, I know) the complete package of being an artist.

However, I think Maxim Vengerov might be too, as is Gidon Kremer. Hilary Hahn is still young, but I really admire her playing. The same for Sarah Chang, Anne Sophie Mutter, and many other people. I don't always agree on interpretations, but that keeps life interesting.

But, as you can guess, Mr. Perlman does really top my list, together of course with Mr. Weilerstein! :)

December 14, 2004 at 10:03 AM · David, Ms Salerno-Sonnenberg sure have a strong fan in you!

A agree with you to that point that she needs to be heard more, but after that I don't follow you ;)

December 14, 2004 at 10:15 AM · daniel kossov - he played the lark ascending well and also those rondo of the gorblin. maybe those in western australia will know who i am talking about. the ex concertmaster of waso

December 14, 2004 at 08:42 PM · weilerstein and perlman, can't go wrong there.

December 14, 2004 at 11:36 PM · Greetings,

Mattias, if you check out you will find that all the great singers spend their days listenign to recordings of Sonnenberg.

Hope that clarifies things for you,



December 15, 2004 at 02:19 AM · Oh, that would of course explain some!

January 2, 2005 at 07:32 AM · Giuliano Carmignola!!!!!

I've listened to EVERYBODY -

Kremer, Mutter, Hahn, Perlman,

Zuckerman, Mintz, Grimiaux,

Vengerov, Heifetz (shudder),

Nadja SS, Milstein-

and NOBODY breathes through

his bow like this guy; I swear

its like hearing whatever he's playing for the first time, even 4 seasons. It's like a different technique altogether

January 3, 2005 at 01:41 AM · it IS a different technique altogether, its baroque.

January 3, 2005 at 01:37 AM · Shudder next to Heifetz? Maybe if you're judging his playing as a whole by his Bach, but otherwise....

January 3, 2005 at 11:49 PM · Hi,

My own two cents here... I can't believe this thread is still going on. There is really no such thing as the greatest violinist. There are simply many great but different artists. The only exception in the last 100 years might be Heifetz who was hailed by all his peers and contemporaries to be in a class by himself and the idol of all (so said Oistrakh, Szeryng, Stern, etc., etc.). But even in his lifetime, the issue was debated as many thought that other violinists had qualities that surpassed him (just read André Benoist Autobiography). So...

The point: WHY?


January 4, 2005 at 03:21 AM · Because it's fun.


January 4, 2005 at 06:35 AM · Well put Christian - I ponder the same thing - people can't help but debate who's "better" - but they can't accept that each great Violinists of the 20th century was a great artist in his/her own right...

January 4, 2005 at 06:52 AM · Adam,

Artist is clearly more contentious than technician, and the two are certainly not the same. Threads like this are merely sport-like in their nature and can never uncover the greatest musician as such.


January 5, 2005 at 03:31 AM · i like the dead dudes more than the new dudes. for example i like oistrakh stern and heifeitz a lot.

January 5, 2005 at 05:33 AM · Poorly put Christian--the best violinist ever was Paganini. Modern day: I can't believe I'm going to say this, but in his prime, Accardo was the master of the violin. Same with Ricci...but they're skills have LONG since faded. They were like Menuhin, towards the end, they just deteriorated. Btw: there are promising young violinists; Gil Shaham is one--his Wieniawski is like a heavenly choir to me.

January 5, 2005 at 05:41 AM · oh you so you heard paganini play? i always wanted to do that..

January 5, 2005 at 05:41 AM · Gitlis is one of my personal favorites...his technique in the 1960's was absolutely phenominal - just look at his I Palpiti - who other than Heifetz could play passages with such ease. IMO he surpassed Kogan's fabulous technique...

January 5, 2005 at 05:43 AM · Greetings,

Matt, sorry, but Christian's point was not poorly put at all. If you disagree say so but you have not offered any reasoned argument for your statemnt about Paginini so in real terms thta is actually rather poorly put.

A little more objectively, Paginini was a phenomenon in his time. It is hardly possible to transfer a fundamentally different historical situation to the present. The emergence of Paginini caused a quantum shift in technique and standards of playing but to attempt to prove he was better than Heifetz one migth ask simply 'what followed?' Huge leaps in technique, ways of using the violin to entertain, (with concomitant rises in compose4rs demands). But, assuming that standards contiued to rise at least to some extent after Paginini , is there really any comparison between pre twentieth century players and Heifetz onwards. Not really. So one can either argue that Pagini was the greatest and then there was a drop in standard or that , more likely, his influence and supremacy was adapted and improved upon during an era in musical demands also became higher to some extent. According to many writers and players Heifetz set the standard for the 20th century and we have little reason to suppose that Paginini transposed out of his era as he stood would have been in the same ball park. Had Paginini been born in the 20th century then he presumably would have had the kind of talent and dedication to be what? This kind of specualtion is pretty valueless. Add all the historical chamges and new social millieu and you are not even talking about 'Paginini" as 'Paginini' anyway...

Noone is going to deny the impact of Paginini and its significance in relation to today's players. But that is talking about a different thing and without making a similar case for Heifetz then one is being incredibly selective about the continuous stream of violinistc history. Comparisons of the impact of various players is certainly interesting. Suggesting that Paginini was a better player than Heifetz is a litlte poorly thought out,



January 5, 2005 at 06:33 AM · you said what i said, only more eloquently.

January 5, 2005 at 09:07 AM · Greetings,

but I took a lot longer,



January 5, 2005 at 09:23 AM · Christian,

I don't think at all that it's unbelievable that this thread is still going on, on the contrary. If it didn't make sense (but it does), then film critics, or any kind of critics, wouldn't make sense neither. But, indeed, why does it make sense to have that kind of debate? Well, simply, because we want to know. We want to know who is the best. And, believe it or not, there is a best violinist. Of course, there may be a discussion about how to define the notion of "best violinist"; in fact, isn't that what this forum is all about? So, I think everybody can learn from a debate like this, at least if it done in a serious and honest way... And of course, it is silly to say that Paganinni is the best violinist of all times, since there is no way at all to verify such statement. I tend to think he wasn't (at all), because his music and his performances were all focused on pure virtuosity, not on music as such.

January 5, 2005 at 09:49 AM · And a few mor miss-spellings.

But nicely put :)

January 5, 2005 at 10:48 AM · Greetings,

Mattias my boy, thank you.

I prfer to htink of them as variations on a thheem,



January 5, 2005 at 08:23 PM · For me, Vadim Repin is the top violin player nowadays. He has learned great traditions of Russian violin school that go from Stalyarsky to Oistrakh, to Bronn, and finally to Repin. About his technical performance: there was a piece that he performed a few months ago at Carnegie Hall that I did not know. It was one of the most complicated I had ever heard. He may be romantic. For example, when he performed Mozart’s No.3 with Menuhin, Yehudi called this performance the best he ever heard.

There has been a lot of discussion about Perlman. I went to his concert a year ago at Avery Fisher Hall. I cannot say that I was happy after the concert. I’ve heard a few mistakes, problems with tempos. Perlman today is no longer the same as he was 10-15 years ago.

January 6, 2005 at 12:07 AM · I'm new here and just finished reading as much of this thread as I could. Wow, it's huge! I'll respond with a long, meandering reply; fair is fair.

I found this place because I was looking for critical opinion of Zuckerman, whom I have never liked much; I'm going to see him play the Brahms with the Seattle Symphony tomorrow night, since I have never heard it performed live.

I wonder if many people here are in the same boat as I am? I.e., I grew up with certain old-school recordings and have simply not kept up. When I hear the "new kids," I am sometimes impressed with tone, clarity, technique, etc., but seldom feel the magic that I got from the old records. I'm well aware, of course, that I have imprinted these wonderful old performances to the point that fresh intepretations strike me as "just wrong." I'm wondering if anyone has experience with certain of these:

My favorite Brahms is long out-of-print: Arthur Grumieaux with the Royal Concertgebouw (Haitink), c. 1958. I have heard many versions since, but none of them possess the grandeur, architecture, superb tempo-handling between the two of them, and majestic tone of this version. Funnily enough, I don't her this kind of greatness in too many of A.G.'s other records, though I could easily have missed something. I have a decent copy, but what should I replace this with in my shopworn pnatheon of great records?

I read all the comments about Heifetz. Nobody said what drives me nutz about him: his vibrato is too fast. Sounds like he had a bird's metabolism.

My favorite Bruch #1 is Milstein from 1940! Unemotional? I don't think so! Perfect? Yep. Tchaikovsky, also Milstein, with the Chicago/Frederic Stock.

Best Mozart #3: Oistrakh.

Has anybody heard Jaime Laredo's old recording of the Barber? I have never heard a better one, but then again, I ain't heard much. He seems to be noteworthy now only for his chamber music work.

Perleman is certainly great at times. On the other hand, I heard him on the radio the other day and he hit the worst clinker I have ever heard on a violin record; I was shocked that it was released.

Sorry if this went off-topic, being about older fiddlers.

January 6, 2005 at 12:30 AM · Oh, and I would like to add:

Whenever Mr. Isaac Stern would play with the Seattle Symphony in the olden days, my violin teacher, who was at second desk in the orchestra, would complain bitterly of his lack of talent .

January 6, 2005 at 12:20 PM · Misha,

Perhaps you are right in saying that Repin is the best violinist nowadays; I don't know. I indeed heard several times that Perlman has declined since qome years now. I don't know since I didn't hear his recent performances. But when I compare, I like to compare the artists at their peak. So, I would make sense, I think, if you compared Repin nowadays with Perlman at his peak, say the years late 70s, 80s and 90s...

January 6, 2005 at 03:18 PM · Scott, thx for the added information. Without your teacher, who was at the second (wasn't there a third?) desk in the orchestra, we would have remained ignorant about Isaac Stern's lack of talent... Thx again for this very valuable contribution.

January 6, 2005 at 04:05 PM · Sorry, Jan, I have no significant opinion about Stern's playing at all, though I have never been especially grabbed by his records. I simply repeated the story because I was curious what others would have to say about Stern. No offense intended!

January 6, 2005 at 11:41 PM · Greetings,

perhaps the poor old guy was feeling soime pressure from the 2nd desk?;)

Personally I find myself going back to his Brahms sonata on Art of Violin Video so often. That is so deep. So, at least he was good at one thing...



January 7, 2005 at 01:19 AM · I like Stern's playing alot. He's very honest; plays straightforward but with alot of feeling but not with fake exaggerations. I don't think that Heifetz's vibrato is too fast. It is pretty fast, but very controlled, and not in your face. I think it sounds really good and gives alot of energy to the sound. Just my opinion.

January 7, 2005 at 07:30 AM · Scott:

I'm curious... what did you think of the performance?


January 7, 2005 at 07:38 AM · You mean Zuckerman/Brahms/Seattle/tonight?

I'll tell you after you tell me if you were there too, ha ha.

January 7, 2005 at 07:55 AM · LOL.. no, I'm sitting at my computer in Los Angeles. ;-)

But your post about old violinists was fun to read and I wondered if you, as you said, leaning toward some of that "older" style of playing (which I also prefer) would see the immense value of Zuckerman's playing (which I greatly admire for many reasons).

So... I was just curious how those old recordings would compare to a real live great violinist!

Lisa :0)

January 7, 2005 at 06:01 PM · >I wondered if you, as you said, leaning toward some of that "older" style of playing (which I also prefer) would see the immense value of Zuckerman's playing (which I greatly admire for many reasons).

So... I was just curious how those old recordings would compare to a real live great violinist!<

Well. Unaccustomed as I am to seeing the real thing live, I will reveal even more ignorance in this short review. Zuckerman made it look so easy. The theatrics I had imagined would be present (simply because the Brahms is so dramatic) simply weren't there. He just stood there, barely moving, looking like a distinguished Jay Leno. >G<

Having said that, the music was wonderful. He took his time, and the phrasing was superb, in my book. Amazingly relaxed, he was. For my money, there was too much goopy vibrato, but that's 'cuz I have been spoiled by the Grumiaux version. Is this what you meant by "older style"? The cadenzas contained just enough mild flubs to make it clear how difficult they were. This sign of fallibility actually contributed to the bravura of the thing.

The ensemble playing by the orchestra was impressive, and the second movement rendered one of the finest versions of the wind introduction I have ever heard. (I have heard an awful lot of shocking intonation in this passage, on various recordings.)

Benaroya Hall has fabulous acoustics. If anyone onstage had farted, I would have heard it. But I have wondered before if this hall rolls-off more treble harmonics than is desirable. I missed the slight roughness I have come to expect in the loud string passages in this piece. My teacher used to shout to me, "Like oil! Make like OIL!" Well, this performance drowned in a sea of oil, Zuckerman included. It was difficult for me to tell if this was the playing or the hall. Being a jazz/funk organ player in my real life, I almost wanted to hear a little bit more roughness than I did.

The tempos were stately rather than bravura, and restraint was the order of the day. Disappointed at first by this, I was won over by the care and beauty of the performance. The second movement was one of the best I have heard.

January 7, 2005 at 06:04 PM · "Well. Unaccustomed as I am to seeing the real thing live, I will reveal even more ignorance in this short review."

That's the best way to mitigate against ignorance - go to live performances!! Sounds like you learned a lot.

"Zuckerman made it look so easy. The theatrics I had imagined would be present (simply because the Brahms is so dramatic) simply weren't there. He just stood there, barely moving, looking like a distinguished Jay Leno. >G<"

LOL (without the chin of course!) Yes, making it look easy is the hallmark of a very good violinist. Lots of motion is an indicator of tension and one reason Zuckerman's playing is sooo good is because of how relaxed he is.

"For my money, there was too much goopy vibrato, but that's 'cuz I have been spoiled by the Grumiaux version. Is this what you meant by "older style"?"

No, but that could be one of the earmarks of older styles compared to newer. Older violinists used vibrato differently than we do now (or most violinists do). Now we learn to vibrate every note, then that wasn't so important. Zuckerman has a very distinct, rich sound that is created by a fabulous bow technique but also the way he creates and uses his vibrato.

"The cadenzas contained just enough mild flubs to make it clear how difficult they were. This sign of fallibility actually contributed to the bravura of the thing."

BRAVO! Great comment. It is not so much a proof of how difficult they are, but that we are all human (no one is perfect - except on a recording, thanks be to the editors) and that fallibility actually enhances a performance! Who knew! ;-))

"The tempos were stately rather than bravura, and restraint was the order of the day. Disappointed at first by this, I was won over by the care and beauty of the performance. The second movement was one of the best I have heard."

Well, now you have made me wish I lived in Seattle. You were lucky to hear that performance. I love your last comment too, because it shows that even though you may have a preference for a certain interpretation of the Brahms, you were moved by this particular performer's rendition to, at least for the moment, rethink your convictions. Another hallmark of a great performer!

I had a pastor/teacher once who, in the great southern tradition of evangelistic preaching here in the US said, "preaching is crowding folks to God's side of the road!" LOL I like to think a good performer does that too.


January 8, 2005 at 04:17 AM · It's spelled Zukerman. No C. Just thought you should know.

January 8, 2005 at 03:40 PM · Jan,

Perhaps your condescending attitude is symptomatic of the decline?


January 8, 2005 at 03:36 PM · > think this discussion board is gradually declining, Scott's and Lisa's lil private discussion not helping very much there. We enter the (low) level of mere subjectivism (coupled to lack of intelligence). Sorry, but somebody had to say it. <

Excuse me sir, but that last remark is totally uncalled for, and is contrary to the charter of this group. I'm brand new here, and I find it hard to believe that you dare to make an assumption about my "intelligence" on the basis of a few posts. You decry subjectivity and yet go on in your subsequent post to reprint a review which is notabale for its subjective comments. I note, for the moderator, that you already flamed me before, for daring to pass on my teacher's comment about Stern. Perhaps your time would be better spent pulling the wings off of flies.

January 8, 2005 at 05:12 PM · Lisa,

At the considerable risk of offending Jan further: thanks for the star! The discussion about tempering one's old prejudices by attending new performances certainly would seem to have some universal value for some folks.

>That's the best way to mitigate against ignorance - go to live performances!! Sounds like you learned a lot.<

My (old) experience was simply playing in the Seattle Youth Symphony for nine years, so I'm not unaccustomeed to live performance. After that time, I quit violin and quit going to the symphony. In light of this recent lack of experience, I want to thank you for your kind response.

BTW, Zukerman DOES have that Leno chin. I kept waiting for him to crack a joke about Schwartz's conducting!

>Older violinists used vibrato differently than we do now (or most violinists do). Now we learn to vibrate every note, then that wasn't so important. Zuckerman has a very distinct, rich sound that is created by a fabulous bow technique but also the way he creates and uses his vibrato.<

Agreed, but I *did* find his use of thick vibrato to be less discriminate than the performance I'm used to; if this is part of the newer style, I am not "down with it" as we say in the jazz/funk world. >G<

>Well, now you have made me wish I lived in Seattle. You were lucky to hear that performance. I love your last comment too, because it shows that even though you may have a preference for a certain interpretation of the Brahms, you were moved by this particular performer's rendition to, at least for the moment, rethink your convictions. Another hallmark of a great performer!<

My mind was as open as I could make it be. I have come to the epiphany that I simply cannot go on loving only single performances of each work, as I have done in the past. And, you make me wish that you lived in Seattle as well!


January 8, 2005 at 05:28 PM · ROFLMAO!!!

Enosh: Thanks for the spelling correction. It is probably one I make always and more than likely will again. That happens as you age. LOL


I haven't done you any favors being "nice" to you! I genuinely liked your post! And what makes you think I gave you the star! LOLLLL ;-)

Reviews are one of the topics encouraged on this board. It has been many years since I've heard Zukerman play live, although I've had the experience of playing under his baton (didn't enjoy that much) and of conversing with him at Francais' in New York (and have to totally disagree about the exaggerated size of his chin in proportion to the rest of his face! LOL), as well as hearing him play many concerts. I greatly enjoy his playing and have spent a lot of time analyzing it (I hope accurately), and your comment about going to the concert suddenly made me realize how fun it would be to see/hear him play again. (But, I think you deserve as much respect as anyone on this board no matter what your level of violin playing/knowledge is, and most people on this board are that respectful which is one reason I keep coming back!)

I am really glad you went to the performance and tried to leave yourself open to another point of view. If more musicians (and people in general) did that, I think we'd have a more peaceful world. Maybe that is just my idealism. Anyway, I think you had a great experience that others can learn from - I know I have students who could have learned from your post - and that is what the posts on this board are all about, in my opinion.

Jan: Reading comprehension is a sign of intelligence, as is toleration of gray (subjectivity) as opposed to black and white (objectivity). I have said in other places in this forum who my favorite violinist is, but fortunately for me, I appreciate (and tolerate) greatness in a lot of forms. Zukerman's (almost spelled it wrong again!) playing is so far above so many other "great" violinists (in terms of actual violin playing) that there is almost no comparison. And I prefer his integrity of musicianship over Perlman's suavity any day. In addition, just as an aside, too bad your reviewer friend thinks sounding like Kreisler is an insult!!

I did give you the demerits (first ones anyway....), athough I am already regretting that!, because I think your personal attack was a completely unneccesary part of expressing your opinion, which you are certainly welcome to express (and which wouldn't offend me). I do think it is important to hear violinists live, so I hope you have the opportunity to compare Perlman and Zukerman up close and personal someday.


January 8, 2005 at 06:11 PM · <>

See, that's an example of what I call lack of intelligence: you even don't get that the critic (who is objective, but not black or white at all!) meant that playing Brahms as if it were Kreisler is not a good thing. She was right in that too, I listened to the fragment. Well, I guess you just go on quietly your private conversation with Scott. I couldn't care less.

January 8, 2005 at 06:59 PM · >See, that's an example of what I call lack of intelligence: you even don't get that the critic (who is objective, but not black or white at all!) meant that playing Brahms as if it were Kreisler is not a good thing. She was right in that too, I listened to the fragment.<

I can read and have quite a decent IQ. The comment about Kreisler was clearly (though poorly written) referring only to the Hungarian Dances.

I'm frankly suprised that someone with your bile-level is still a member of this board.

January 8, 2005 at 07:40 PM · Jan,

I have registered a formal complaint with Niles. Your behavior is unacceptable as far as I am concerned. I have been a member of many mailing lists and message boards over the years, and have *never* seen someone survive who made posts such as yours. Good-bye.

January 8, 2005 at 08:39 PM · Come on, guys. One thing is disagreeing with what someone else says but you don't have to attack eachother's intelligence and call people idiots.

January 8, 2005 at 08:42 PM · And Jan, you could be a little easy on him since he's new (although I don't see why he said anything wrong). I mean, I've said stupid things before here but I don't think I should be judged for that. And don't assume we all think he's an idiot.

January 8, 2005 at 09:01 PM · Not ALL think he's an idiot, Enosh, not ALL, you said it. But I suggest you calmly reread the things he said thusfar. And judge objectively.

January 8, 2005 at 10:51 PM · Hi,

Since I haven't logged on in a while, I don't think that I was misguided. Not to offend and that I do not respect the criticism offered, but my point is simple... Does there have to be a best one? Why can't there just be many great artists?

And what good does attacking each other do? Doesn't tell us anything more about this topic... Just a thought...


January 8, 2005 at 11:39 PM · Enosh wrote:

>Come on, guys. One thing is disagreeing with what someone else says but you don't have to attack eachother's intelligence and call people idiots.<

Thanks, Enosh. Just to point out that there is only one person here who is attacking. It's ridiculous.

January 9, 2005 at 02:33 AM · this discussion is gettin kinda

January 9, 2005 at 03:11 AM · I think we can all agree on who are the most accomplished bickerers

January 9, 2005 at 03:13 AM · or can we?

January 9, 2005 at 03:19 AM · ericka- i think it's wayy beyond nasty!lol

January 9, 2005 at 03:49 AM · but its very

January 9, 2005 at 03:56 AM · >but its very<

I guess! if you are not me, ha ha. Am I being argumentative too? I don't remember insulting that guy, except by my very existence!

January 9, 2005 at 05:21 AM · its ok

January 9, 2005 at 08:45 AM · Greetings,

I tend to bicker about once a month because of the male menopause. However, I am thinking it would be good if v.commie included voluntary membership in a new group run roughly along the lines of alcoholics anonymous. That is, in one of your posts, perhaps as a PS you state that you are indeed an ignoramus, complete pillock, divot, brain dead, beaten on mastermind by two short planks, piece of flotsam. Then when someone points this out for whatever reason one is quite justified in saying "Yes, but I already told everyone that. Please pay more attention."

A suggested membership fee for this group within te group might be 10 thousand dollars to that Nigerian currency scam that was doing the rounds on the Internet.

Hope this helps,


January 9, 2005 at 09:41 AM · It's not as tragic as reelecting Bush for president of the USA, though; nor as the tsunami that struck South Asia.

January 9, 2005 at 03:59 PM · Jan wrote:

>It's not as tragic as reelecting Bush for president of the USA<

On this, we may agree. Also the word "travesty" comes to mind.

January 9, 2005 at 06:58 PM · Jan I find your comments about violin playing and politics very amusing. Two things I might add you know nothing about.

January 9, 2005 at 08:06 PM · There are an awful lot of assertions without any apparent justification being made. Nate, much as I find Jan's attitude distasteful, what makes you think he knows nothing about violinists or politics?


January 9, 2005 at 08:53 PM · I think this thread should have ended a long time ago.

January 9, 2005 at 09:58 PM · This is a really lame discussion...let this thread drop down and fade away and let's concentrate on the newer threads...

January 10, 2005 at 08:55 AM · Yeah, as I said earlier, this thread is gradually declining. Now, with the last "lame" remarks, it's very rapidly declining. It's "ground zero" concerning the discussion level. Some people don't seem to have any autocriticism.

January 10, 2005 at 08:58 AM · And I have to add: it is not by changing the subject of discussion, that this fundamental problem will be solved (I give myself a "merit" for this remark, since nobody is nclined to give me "merits" anymore; which is rather a compliment for me I think).

January 10, 2005 at 09:12 AM · Like the last two demerits I got. Simply childish. I know that's true, everybody knows it's true; yet someone (or several people) continue to give me demerits. I am sure I will get one or more demerits for this remark too; but nothing valuable justifies it. It's only a sign of irritation and/or frustration and/or lack of adult behavior. We all know it's true what I say here. So go on, give me "my" demerits, it's only yourself you are hurting this way. I DO SEARCH TRUTH IN EVERYTHING I ENQUIRE. WHy isn't this board capable of doing this??? THAT IS THE BIG QUESTION.

January 10, 2005 at 10:02 PM · The "board" is incapable of doing this because there is no board, only we works-in-progress human beings. Truth is useless unless it is used to create value. All of our comments are nothing but the briefest of snapshots that, at best may be a mometary offering to share our joy in music. Or they can be another tool in our daily arsenal to hurt or insult... The way we present the "truth" can create value OR it can also be used to debase our own life (while we think we are debasing another). Intelligence abounds; there is always someone not as smart as us; wisdom, far more rare, is the ability to employ our intelligence to create happiness. Personally attacking people for not displaying intelligence or objectivity is pitiful: it blinds the attacker into thinking he or she is important and capable while energizing the environment into diminishing him or her further. I wish that applying "demerits" could address that but it is something that often has to be learned by undeniable loss. The outcome, the results, the effects of Rigorous Searching for Truth is based on what impels us to do so, which is evident in how we present it and the effects we experience. We can only know that for ourself in the depths of our life, maybe most fully at our last moment. Sorry, I meant to talk about Mutter's vibrato.

January 10, 2005 at 10:01 PM · Amen to that Alan.


January 10, 2005 at 11:35 PM · Jan wrote:

>Like the last two demerits I got. Simply childish. I know that's true, everybody knows it's true; yet someone (or several people) continue to give me demerits. I am sure I will get one or more demerits for this remark too; but nothing valuable justifies it. It's only a sign of irritation and/or frustration and/or lack of adult behavior.<

The only thing that was childish was your denigration of nice people here who were simply trying to have a conversation about violin playing. I think that "everybody knows it's true" that you received demerits for insulting and abusing innocent posters. "Childish" is your projection of your own behavior. You should be ashamed of yourself; instead, you are an arrogant prick. Good day.

January 11, 2005 at 12:25 AM · LET THIS DISCUSSION END AND DIE PEOPLE!

January 11, 2005 at 04:12 AM · The next person to post a message will roast in eternal fires of death along with this thread.

January 11, 2005 at 04:26 AM · Does that work?

January 11, 2005 at 04:43 AM · yes

January 11, 2005 at 06:20 AM · Oh dear heavens me. It's hot in here!

January 11, 2005 at 07:40 AM · Do you know what would be good for this moderation system - whenever someone moderated a comment they would have to state why - and we people could see who moderated and their reason - that would end any stupid moderation...

January 11, 2005 at 09:54 AM · Greetings,

I agree with you Adam. Taht is what I have been doing.

I think people will do thta if they wish to.



January 11, 2005 at 09:56 AM · I'm going to start doing it too - it's just slack in my opinion giving demerits and not stating why...

January 11, 2005 at 02:57 PM · OK Alan, thanks for your meaningful and deep words. I know that my behavior was provocative; only ... I went further in that way that I intended to.

January 11, 2005 at 03:07 PM · I would like to add only this: I am always in search for truth because I love truth. I never discovered another reason for my search when I looked into myself. But sometimes, yes, I have to admit, I abused of it (I mean: I made abuse of the power of truth; likely because it makes me feel more powerful; and that's a pitty indeed)

January 11, 2005 at 08:24 PM · David Yonan is a young and rising star, definately going for the top.

Check out his homepage:

January 13, 2005 at 06:53 AM · i think we might have forgotten that the original poster said "who is the most TECHNICALLY accomplished player out there TODAY"

January 13, 2005 at 12:33 PM · What about Vengerov, TECHNICALLY?

January 13, 2005 at 12:45 PM ·

January 15, 2005 at 02:36 AM · Vengerov might seem to be very flashy and perfect and what not but I don't find his technique to be exceptional. He uses arm vibrato which in my opinion isn't good and I don't think he has a great sound. Although I haven't heard him live, I have seen clips and recordings and judging from those I think he has a pretty thin sound.

January 15, 2005 at 03:19 AM · Vengerov has both wrist and arm vibrato, and uses them in accordance with the color that he wants to produce.

January 15, 2005 at 07:51 AM · Vengerov is a showman. A circus - what he does is hugely entertaining to gaggles of young violin students (especially young women it seems) and often remarkably impressive technically. But I'm afraid that's all I can see in him. His playing is just about the most egotistic and indulgent I have ever heard.

So if you admire technique, he's great. However, what he does has very little to do with music making in my view.


PS He also plays Bazzini too much.

January 15, 2005 at 08:05 AM · I can't disagree with you more Carl :)

January 15, 2005 at 01:09 PM · Greetings,

me too. I love Bazzini,



January 15, 2005 at 03:38 PM · Vengerov is a great showman, but I doubt that musicians like Rostropovich, Abbado, Barenboim, Menuhin, Stern, Metha, Schedrin, would bother with just a showman (in fact, Stern labeled him as one of the great new violinists, in his memoirs). How many other musicans within the last 20 years, has Rostrapovich collaborated with on 5 or 6 CDs?

January 15, 2005 at 03:37 PM · To each their own...


January 15, 2005 at 09:11 PM · Hi,

Vengerov is a personality. He is inspired and highly energetic. And he is terrific technically, and very very very daring and takes risks technically and musically live, hence that occasionally he will miss, but the rest of the time it takes your breath away. As for showing off, I think that his physical presence is born out of him and not designed for the public. It's just part of his personality. As for sound, you always have to hear a violinist live to appreciate his sound IMO, and live he has beautiful very luminous sound that is very focused.


P.S. (I would also watch some of the comments as he is known to visit this site).

January 15, 2005 at 09:24 PM · Carl, I agree with you, but what I was trying to say is that I don't even think his technique is that great like most people do. I think it's his showmanship that makes his technique which any other distinguished violinist has look more impressive than it is.

January 15, 2005 at 09:36 PM · I have yet to see any weekness in Mr Vengerov's technique.

Sure, everyone can play better with practice, and he can to, but he is one of the major fiddle geeeks out there.

January 15, 2005 at 09:43 PM · Without technique a violinist following the contemporary recital standards would not be able to be a showman.

January 15, 2005 at 10:32 PM · Greetings,

I haven"t noticed too many technical problems either. Mattias, perhaps we need to change our optician?



January 16, 2005 at 08:10 AM · Yes, and perhaps our ear-guy to :)

January 16, 2005 at 08:11 AM · Or did you mean that we should change with eachother?

January 16, 2005 at 11:01 AM · Greetings,

Mattias, there is a strong connection between the visual cortex and the way we process sound. Think of Swedish meatballs in yer head,



January 16, 2005 at 11:56 AM · Oh, now I get it!

January 17, 2005 at 12:53 AM · Perhaps Vengerov's technique 'looks' better than others because when he plays it looks effortless, where many violinists seem tense or like theyre trying really hard. Maxim certainly looks like a complete natural.

January 17, 2005 at 02:19 AM · You don't know how much I disagree with that statement :) Vengerov IMO looks like the most tense top player I have seen. Menuhin, Heifetz and the rest look so much more relaxed and at ease - Vengerov looks incredibly tense when he plays at times - raised shoulders - chin pressing down - a heavy arm vibrato argh!

January 17, 2005 at 02:50 AM · Why has my world gone yellow?

January 17, 2005 at 03:00 AM · maybe your plumbing is malfunctioning.

January 17, 2005 at 03:16 AM · Greetings,

not with my prune intake,



January 17, 2005 at 03:59 AM · It might be because you live in Asia?

January 17, 2005 at 04:45 AM · Greetings,

last time I made that joke I got into a lot of trouble. Must be a family thing...



January 18, 2005 at 02:00 AM · Although I had visited this site a few times in the past, last evening, after reading some of the responses here on this subject, I decided it may be worth joining. Noting the date when this discussion began, and its continued interest, well . . . .

So, which violinist today may be regarded as possessing the finest technique? By the number of different responses, it is clear that this matter is open to debate. I doubt if anything that I present will change anyone's mind. But let me share some of my thoughts.

First, technique and technical ability are not exactly the same. Some violinists have incredible ability, but their artistic approach determines the particular techniques that they implement. Leopold Auer taught his students that whenever you play, you must make your violin sing, or you will have failed. Even if all the notes are played accurately, it is not good enough if the violin does not sing.

In terms of technical ability, I do not think that anyone has ever questioned the skills of Jascha Heifetz.

Simply looking at the numerous references made to him in the discussion, whether pro or con, we still regard him as the measuring stick for technical skill and dexterity. However, this does not mean he is not without equal in this realm.

But for whatever reason, the most gifted violinist may not choose the best technique in a given passage. A lesser performer, by using the right technique, can stir the hearts of an eager audience, if he/she makes the violin sing.

So often we take into consideration the composer and the violinist in a performance, to the neglect of both the score and the instrument itself. By instrument itself I do not mean: was it a Strad or a Guanerius? But rather, the instrument itself is a violin.

How is it suppose to sound in a given passage.

It is interesting that the Russian word for violin is "skripka." It's root is a Russian onomtopoeic word which means the same as our similar sounding English word "scrape." Hence, it is the instrument that produces its beautiful tone by use of the horse hair scraping the strings. Now whether it was better or not for Heifetz to record with a mike close to the bridge is debatable. But he did so by preference, and it certainly was not to hide any warts. He said he wanted people to hear him as he was.

So, was that good technique? In the balcony of Carnegie Hall, who would know? But sitting in the same living room with him, or anyone else for that matter, we would all hear the scratching and scraping on the triple stops, etc.

Still, there must be an equal understanding of both the composer and the score by the performer. Since most of the great composers are gone, it is not as simple as talking to a living one. Who one reads will influence much of this.

Yet, there is still the audience. A violinist with good artistic technique must tie everything together, leaving no loose ends. The violin, the music, the composer, and the audience must all be made one. One part must not outshine the other, so that the sum will be greater than the parts, and all will be equally appreciated.

In technical skills, Stern would be the first to tell you he was not the equal of Heifetz, Oistrakh, Milstein, Perlman, or Zuckerman. His intonation was not as precise; his dexterity demanded that he improvise on the fingerings, etc. But the man had a warmth and charm, and a love for both his instrument and the music that you could not dismiss. He knew his personal limitations and played passionately within those limits. People loved to hear him play, because he made his violin sing. What value is there if you are the very best in ability, but no one wants to hear you play??

Just about everyone mentioned has brought something good to the table; yes, some more than others. And clearly, some have superior technical ability, but may be lacking in artistic technique and understanding. Using the wrong technique, or one not called for, is as bad as playing the wrong note all the time. Obviously, if the skills are so inferior, than there really is no singing.

Who is the most accomplished in technique today? This is no easier to say than it was going back three centuries. A better question would be: Who makes the violin sing? Who captures my heart? That is the one to listen to.

January 18, 2005 at 03:13 AM · I'm not sure if he's been mentioned yet but I recently heard a very knowledgeable musician say he thougt that the German violinist Zehetmeier was the top technical violinist of the moment. Personally, I can't really see the aim of trying to pinpoint 'the best' but does anyone have any opinions on Zehetmeier? So far I have only heard a bit of his Ysaye, which is a knockout.

January 18, 2005 at 04:19 AM · Zehetmair is an amazing fresch violinists that always makes music. But he is not one of the techniqually most advanced. Sure, he has a lot to burn, but he is not a super-virtuoso.

Personally, I rather listen to Zehetmair than most of todays violinists.

January 18, 2005 at 09:59 AM · The most accomplished violinist...vanessa mae!....LOL

(i'm kidding if you didn't know...)

January 19, 2005 at 08:06 AM · John,

You say some interesting things there. I think you have a point there: technique and technical ability are not the same. A really good violinist should be able to make his/her violin sing. Stern was right (and humble enough) to admit that he had not the technical skills of f.i. Heifetz, Oistrakh, Milstein, Perlman or Zukerman. However he had a great career because of people loving his musicality, his charm and his making the violin sing. But... wouldn't it be true to say that he (or she) having the best technical ability is - in principle - also the best equipped to make that happen (provided of that the violinist in question also has sufficient musical feeling to do so)?


January 22, 2005 at 03:25 AM · Jan,

I am pretty much agreed with you in your summation. When two violinists approach a piece with very similar artistic interpretations, styles, and quality instruments, the more pleasurable music will come from the one with the superior technical skills. However, we must also admit that the antithesis is true:

i.e., when two violinists approach a piece with very similar tecnical skills, styles, and quality instruments, the more pleasurable music will come from the one with the better artistic interpretation. After all, the same cut of steak from the same steer will not taste quite the same when prepared by different chefs.

But regarding technical skills, the line is much clearer. Artistic interpretation is more subjective, while technical skill is more objective. When one makes a technical mistake on the violin, the warts cannot be hidden. No matter how beautiful one may be playing, a clinker is heard by everyone; it cannot be brushed over - it's out there, and it cannot be reeled back in.

There is also the aspect of profiency in the use of technical skills. Although two violinists may play technically correct, the one with superior finger and bow speed in up tempo passages certainly has a distinct edge. Likewise, one who can change the direction of the bow without it being detected by the ear has a prized skill. And so it is with each skill.

Basically, most of these skills are God given; they can be developed. But even a great teacher cannot put into a student what is not already there. Some clearly have more talent than others. And fewer, yet, are more proficient. Yes, even among the best violinists, some do stand out for their technical prowess.

January 23, 2005 at 01:29 PM · John,

You are rigyht in everything you say there, I think. In so far, that I don't have anything substantial to add to this. So, I think if a (great) violinist is judged concerning his violin playing, it should be on a basis like you described it. The one who says or writes this "judgement" (or critical article) should also articulate clearly what part of his judgement is objective (this part seems the most interesting to me), and which one is subjective.

Best Regards


January 27, 2005 at 08:10 PM · his playing is just a little too sweet. i find recordings of his plying to be a little more generic than what id like to see

January 27, 2005 at 09:29 PM · Heifetz is the best violinist that has lived in the last 100 years.

January 28, 2005 at 09:27 AM · Charlie,

Ok. Let's assume u r right. The question is: what justifies this (blunt) statement?


January 28, 2005 at 03:16 PM · One of the things that justifies that statement is that every great violinist whithin the last 100 years either admitted to Heifez's superiority to their own playing, or admitted to his greatness.

January 28, 2005 at 04:25 PM · Not all admitted to his superiority... though his greatness is hardly contested. Most violinists admit to the greatness of many 'great' violinists. A recent Grammophone Magazine poll of soloists and professional violinists found that Oistrakh was the favourite violinist by a long way. This indicates nothing significant whatsoever, but does suggest that comments like "X was the greatest violinist ever" cannot be demonstrated in any objective way.

Does the term 'greatness' include the violinist's ability as a musician, as well as a technician?


January 28, 2005 at 05:19 PM · >Does the term 'greatness' include the violinist's ability as a musician, as well as a technician?<

It sure as heck does for me.

January 28, 2005 at 05:28 PM · ...bought a CD yesterday featuring Qian Zhou (from around 1996?)...guess my ear is starting to become more 'educated' as I find her style of playing very distinctive. I like it! :D

However, she's another violinist I don't seem to be able to find out much about...frankly, I find it all rather perplexing...

January 29, 2005 at 02:19 PM · This morning I listened to Perlman's performance in the Sibelius concerto (with the Pitsburg Symphony orchestra and Andre Previn as conductor). Yes, he is the greatest (perhaps of all times), the most accomplished, the most talented, no doubt about that (for me). It's not that I don't like Heifetz for instance; he is just not that subtle, not that accomplished, there is too much repertoire (as already quoted earlier by several people: Bach, for instance, not what one would call a "minor" composer)in which his performance is not really satisfactory. Perlman has everything: talent, energy, technique, technical ability, musicality, depth of feeling and, last but not least, merit. He is THE violinist, the absolute model.

January 29, 2005 at 04:45 PM · Although not in such strong terms, I generally agree with Jan.


January 29, 2005 at 07:55 PM · Sure, Perlman has it all, but I still feel that Heifetz was in a league of his own. And I disagree, Heifetz really was very subtle, at least to me. I feel he had the most control over expression and technique.

January 29, 2005 at 10:52 PM · Not to mention the fact that Perlman himself expressed an overwhelming admiration of Heifez.

January 30, 2005 at 09:34 AM · Indeed he did. But, he also said in 'The Art of Violin': "I remember going through a Milstein period, a Heifetz period... you know, but Oistrakh was someone I never actually fell out of love with."

You can't quantify who is best on the basis of comments of famous musicians, because some people will think that Heifetz was all round the greatest, some will think Milstein was all round the greatest, some will think Oistrakh was all round the greatest...etc. What does that tell you? You'll only end up picking out the comments that best support your own preferences.


January 31, 2005 at 12:12 AM · Jan, Carl, Scott,

This is such an interesting matter . . . . It must be, in light of the number of responses and the duration of the discussion. What is even more interesting is that these same discussions were going on regarding Heifetz, Menhuin, Milstein, and Oistrakh 40 years ago (please note that these violinists are mentioned in alphabetical order, and not necessarily by preference). Other names were mentioned, but these four were discussed the most. Similar debate has been the norm for the past three centuries.

In the days of Johann Sebastian Bach, it was not uncommon for one virtuoso to challenge another virtuoso to a duel on the organ. It was a way to show one's prowess on the instrument, and hopefully, bring closure to the debate on who was to be deemed the superior performer.

Although this is not how music should be appreciated, I sure would have loved to see someone try to unseat Bach from behind the pipes. The tale of Bach and Louis Marchand serves as such a notable event in history.

But what I truly admire about Bach was his appreciation for, and desire to learn from other great organists and composers. He was never too proud to learn from those he regarded to be his equal. And even if they were not, they were close enough for him. This is the same spirit in which Perlman and Gitlis have spoken about our past champions.

I will leave my thoughts on the others for another day. It's time for someone else to respond. Warmest regards from Florida.

January 31, 2005 at 12:27 AM · ...regarding this violinist...Qian Zhou...found what I needed...she's now faculty at the U of Singapore...

"Violinist and recording artist Qian Zhou joins the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music faculty as Assistant Professor of Violin, beginning with the 2003-2004 academic year.

In 1987, eighteen-year-old violinist Qian Zhou introduced herself to the world of music with a brilliant triumph at the Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud Competition in Paris, one of the top four major international competitions in the world. She broke all precedent in the competition's 50-year history by winning not only the First Grand Prize, but also the Best Mozart, the Recital, and the Virtuoso Prizes, as well as the International Artist and Audience Prizes. She was the youngest Long-Thibaud winner ever, and her victory drew worldwide attention.

Since then, Ms Qian has been in the first rank of world-class violinists of her generation. She is a frequent recitalist and soloist with orchestras around the world, including the BBC Symphony, National Orchestra of Ile de France, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Russian Philharmonic, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic, Shanghai Symphony, the Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Singapore Symphony.

In addition to a busy schedule of performances around the world, Ms Qian is also a recording artiste for the Naxos label. Her most recent CD, a recording of the Dvorak Violin Sonatas with American pianist Edmund Battersby drew praise from Jeffrey Joseph in Strad Magazine. He said of the recording, “For some 14 years Qian Zhou has had to live up to her five-fold triumph at the Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud Competition…that her absolute mastery is undiminished is apparent throughout these proceedings…”

Qian Zhou is a native of China, having studied at the Shanghai Conservatory until age 18. She then traveled to America to study with legendary violin teacher Berl Senofsky at the Peabody Conservatory, where she graduated with the Artist Diploma. Since then, Qian Zhou has performed throughout American, Europe, and Asia, in addition to recording and teaching. She comes to Singapore most recently from Houston, Texas."

I find all this fascinating...


February 6, 2005 at 01:10 PM · N.A. Mohr,

No offense, but what is your point?

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

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