Who Is Your Favorite Living Violinist?

January 31, 2019, 8:16 PM · I'm just starting to learn violin and I wanted to check out some inspiring violinists who are still alive and performing. I figured this would be a good place to compile a list. So far my favorite is Hilary Hahn.

So who is your favorite living violinist to listen to and/or watch perform?

Replies (76)

January 31, 2019, 9:12 PM · David Krakovich.

I also like Hahn. I'm also a fan of Chloe Trevor.

The reality is, at least for me, I rarely know who I'm listening to as I often let Spotify choose my performers and music for me.

January 31, 2019, 9:17 PM · Ida Haendel. Not many left like her.
January 31, 2019, 9:18 PM · Augustin Hadelich. His playing is so musical, so precise, the most gorgeous sound - and he gives just as much attention and care to his performances in the smaller venues as the big ones.
Edited: January 31, 2019, 9:20 PM · Tsk, Michael.

Hilary Hahn and Maxim Vengerov are my favorite living violinists. However. there are a lot of amazing players alive at present. I am increasingly charmed by James Ehnes, Ray Chen, and Janine Jensen. And I often love Julian Rachlin and Nikolaj Znaider.

Also, I love Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser.

EDIT: Oh, and Hadelich, too!

Edited: January 31, 2019, 9:27 PM · Tsk well deserved on both possible counts.

I wish I had of thought of Hadelich. Definitely on the list.

Edited: January 31, 2019, 9:58 PM · Shoji, Vengerov, Repin, Hahn, Chang, and many others. A few of the bigger names of today I like or respect, but do not go crazy about them as many do. I am not a "school" sort of fan, so I may enjoy two very different, so-called "opposite" violinists. I just care about musical sincerity and that subjective, "something special".

There's plenty of good "modern" players to be sure. Admit that I don't like too much when they lean towards conservative playing, but as I've mentioned before, I believe many of these "younger" crop of players no longer are that strictly "mechanical" (to make a point-I know most are good musicians, whether I like what they do or not.)

I also love or greatly/admire respect many of the still alive, but elderly players of the 20th century, who still play even when no longer at their peak.

(Wanted to add that I don't like to single out a "best player", so I had to mention several that I would never miss perform live when visiting the area.)

January 31, 2019, 9:56 PM · These days, Corina Belcea.
January 31, 2019, 10:06 PM · Hilary Hahn tops my list, but I'm listening more and more to Augustin Hadelich and Arabella Steinbacher.
January 31, 2019, 10:09 PM · Ivry Gitlis
Roman Kim
January 31, 2019, 10:15 PM · Julia Fischer, Nicola Benedetti, Joshua Bell, James Ehnes, Maxim Vengerov, Sarah Chang
January 31, 2019, 10:38 PM · Hilary Hahn, Jennifer Koh, and Patricia Kopatchinskaja
January 31, 2019, 10:39 PM · My favorites are Maxim Vengerov, Itzhak Perlman, Hilary Hahn, Ray Chen , Anne Akiko Meyers and recently Brett Yang and Eddy Chen from TwoSet Violin. However my most favorite of them all is Itzhak Perlman.
January 31, 2019, 10:45 PM · Federico Guglielmo.

He gives the best sound to a violin I have ever heard. So much I often thought it was enhanced post edition, until I heard him live and I witnessed he actually produces that sound.

He plays Baroque almost exclusively, and I am fine with it.

There are others mentioned in this thread I also like a lot, but only from Guglielmo I would buy an album just because his name was in the cover.

January 31, 2019, 10:50 PM · Favorite: Hilary Hahn. Her Bach Sonatas & Partitas are amazing.

I am also a huge fan of Leonidas Kavakos and Julia Fischer! I listened to Kavakos play Shostakovich. It was so haunting, I felt so hollow after the concert. Absolutely fantastic.

If we include quartets, Guarneri Quartet (Arnold Steinhardt) and Takacs!

Edited: January 31, 2019, 11:56 PM · Hilary Hahn - what a talented and humble personality!
Sarah Chang - You can identify her vibrato with just audio. Which is rare!
Augustin Hadelich - His style & interpretation is creative and exciting.
Janine Jansen - Very sweet, mellow, and mellifluous.
Izhak Perlman - no longer performs but personally I think his control and technique in his prime is better than all other living international soloists.
January 31, 2019, 11:24 PM · Hilary Hahn and Itzhak Perlman top my list for their playing. Also, Rachel Barton Pine as a champion for underplayed repertoire.
January 31, 2019, 11:31 PM · I should like to add: Isabelle Faust, Giuliano Carmignola, Renaud Capuçon and Gil Shaham
January 31, 2019, 11:51 PM · Hilary Hahn.
Edited: February 1, 2019, 12:14 AM · Anne Sophie Mutter
Maxim Vengerov with Sibelius though.

Unfortunately though I have never had the chance to go see either of them in cocnert. We live so far even from our capital.

And the one that I like the least is Joshua Bell.

February 1, 2019, 2:45 AM · Shlomo Mintz is my favourite. His Paganini Caprices just look so flawlessly essy when under his fingers
February 1, 2019, 4:26 AM · I can't have a "favorite" one. What I can choose as "preferred" or "favorite" are the specific interpretations: I love Perlman for Bruch, Hilary Hahn for Mendelssohn, Vengerov for Mozart...
Ray Chen, Perlman, Vengerov, Hahn, Pinchas Zukerman, David Garrett... I can name probably 30 violinists I really love and have profound respect, but none are my favorite because I have different opinions of all of them depending on the piece they are playing.
February 1, 2019, 6:10 AM · I am curious as to why many listeners don't really like Joshua Bell ...
February 1, 2019, 6:22 AM · Watson - I also love Mintz. I really like his Sibelius and Mendelssohn violin concerto recordings. I also like James Ehnes's Mendelssohn.
However, I think Mintz is no longer in his prime, however. But those recordings from the 1980s and 1990s are golden.
Also, I agree with Paul N - I like different people's interpretations of different pieces, and I don't really have overall favorites. Even within a piece, I like the way someone might've done the first movement of Sibelius, but I might not like their 2nd movement.
Edited: February 1, 2019, 6:25 AM · I think it's Bell's stage personality that gets to folks. When he plays he seems aloof. But he's an incredibly passionate violinist with a great sound and I love his Mozart, especially his cadenzas. Maybe he needs to go hula hooping and folks will give him the time of day again.

I like all the great violinists mentioned so far. I'd like to add Nigel Kennedy to the list. Who else dares to insert a few phrases of ponticello into Bach?

Edited: February 1, 2019, 6:27 AM · Living and preforming:
James Ehnes, Hilary Hahn, Maxim Vengerov, Ray Chen, Anne Sophie Mutter, Midori, Shlomo Mintz...

Living, but retired:
Itzhak Perlman, Ivry Gitlis.

But really - how many would I like if I had known them?

February 1, 2019, 6:31 AM · I got to meet Hadelich just after he won the International Violin Competition in Indianapolis in 2006. I asked him to sign my Sonatas and Partitas, and he was so flustered, I think I might have been the first person to ask for his autograph... "Just sign in my regular handwriting? It's not very pretty..." It was very sweet. :)
Edited: February 1, 2019, 6:43 AM · Hilary Hahn, Ray Chen, Patricia Kopatchinskaja (same nature as me :)), Nicola Benedetti, Pavel Šporcl (from my country), Jaroslav Svecený (also czech), Daniel Hope, Joshua Bell

Looking forward to Isabelle Faust I am going to her concert on our classical festival Pražské Jaro (Prague spring) this year :-)

Edited: February 1, 2019, 6:53 AM · Hadelich is extremely likeable! His interview was my favourite:


Interviewer "What is the worst feeling in the world?"
Hadelich "Having a broken heart"

February 1, 2019, 7:07 AM · Richard Tognetti
Edited: February 1, 2019, 7:32 AM · As Paul N says, horses for courses.

I like Perlman's Bach polyphony where others just think the chords are enough. But sometimes Perlman is too sweet (I forget when I had that thought). I'd probably have voted for him overall, but I didn't know he had retired.

February 1, 2019, 8:36 AM · I like Hahn, Vengerov, Hadelich, Midori, Nemanja Radulovic and so many more!

I've listened to Roman Kim a lot lately, be sure to check him out.

Paul D., I first listened Nigel play the Four Seasons and I love that recording a lot, the little Cadenza/intro he does for the 2nd movement of Winter is something I need to learn.

February 1, 2019, 8:38 AM · I didn't know that Perlman had retired, either. Also, Anita, do you still have your scores of the Bach S&Ps?
Edited: February 1, 2019, 8:43 AM · I am continually surprised that Gidon Kremer is omitted in such lists.
Edited: February 1, 2019, 9:04 AM · Oh so so so many...

In no particular order: Philippe Graffin (and he has a new album out today with the lovely Claire Desert! Their In the Shade of the Forest album was a revelation for me when I was considering returning to the violin - it pretty much cemented the reality of my return, and Tessa Lark's Roumanian Folk Dances on YouTube, but I digress), Anne-Sophie Mutter, Patricia Kopanchinskaja, Augustin Hadelich, Ida Haendel, Caroline Goulding is a recent discovery, both of my teachers, Midori, Tessa Lark, Janine Jansen, Zuckerman...

February 1, 2019, 10:56 AM · Benjamin I love Kremer too. Frankly I like his Bach more than HH's. Kremer really puts his whole being into his playing, I love that.
February 1, 2019, 11:18 AM · If I am allowed to color a bit outside the lines.. Jay Ungar - I give extra credit for those who play tunes they wrote themselves.
Edited: February 1, 2019, 9:34 PM · Itzhak Perlman has not retired, at least not entirely. He will be performing duo concerts with Evgeny Kissin this year in several places across the US. He is taking on more speaking engagements as I understand, but he is still playing.

Itzhak Perlman has been my favorite since I was a child. Since recently returning to the violin I'm finding new favorites such as Hilary Hahn and Ray Chen, among others, but Perlman is still #1 for me after 50+ years. I was captivated initially by his story, and then by his playing.

Edited: February 1, 2019, 11:40 AM · Hilary Hahn, Julia Fischer and Roman Kim, for my fiddlers' three.
Edited: February 1, 2019, 11:59 AM · A couple of years ago we saw Bell play the Tchaikovsky, and it was amazing. His stage manner seems very affected, but close your eyes, and wow. I had never really liked the Tchaikovsky until that night. The cadenza was like music from another world.

But favorites: Hadelich, Hahn, Ehnes, Faust. I like Tessa Lark and Johnny Gandelsman, too. Kyung Wha Chung's technique is not what it used to be, but for the last year or so I keep finding myself watching the YouTube videos of her "Spring" sonata. It's very fine. A few years ago we saw Salerno-Sonnenberg play the Mendelssohn and it was electric. I'm such a fan of violin that whoever is on stage at the moment is my favorite player, but I would go out of my way to hear Hadelich, Hahn, and maybe Vengerov too. I'd love to sit in on one of his masterclasses.

February 1, 2019, 12:51 PM · Hilary Hahn and Vadim Repin. Also Ida Haendel but I don't know if she's still playing. And Veronika Jaruskova (1st violin of the Pavel Haas Quartet) - capable of producing real magic even in familiar repertoire.
February 1, 2019, 1:14 PM · Anne Akiko Meyers inspired me to play again, so I would have to say she is my favorite.
February 1, 2019, 1:18 PM · Also Christian Tetzlaff and Frank Peter Zimmermann.
How about Pinchas Zukerman ; here playing Beethoven's Kreutzer sonata: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WObiXNMlpA
February 1, 2019, 1:48 PM · Part of the reason I have a huge liking for Mintz (as well as his Paganini) is that he was the one who got me into the Mendelssohn concerto. I had tried a few times before listening to his, and they didn't do it for me
February 1, 2019, 1:56 PM · Roman Kim, no question! David Krakovich is a close second.
February 1, 2019, 2:21 PM · Nina, I do! I figured it would be the one thing I would carry around with me for the rest of my life. :) it’s significantly more beat up, though...
February 1, 2019, 3:55 PM · Depends on the piece, and I go through phases, but am really warming to Janice Jansen's playing. Especially love her romantic concertos, there's a great recording of Brahms on Spotify.
February 1, 2019, 4:08 PM · Adrian Anantawan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-uAvM6ZTLc
February 1, 2019, 5:00 PM · Mr. Hak-also appreciate Zimmermann and Tetzlaff very much.
February 1, 2019, 7:19 PM · Vengerov gave one of the best performances I've seen in person. I wouldn't miss an opportunity to see him again. I also saw Perlman, but I think he has lost some spark in his playing.
February 1, 2019, 7:31 PM ·
February 1, 2019, 7:51 PM · Gil Shaham, especially for Bach S+P.
February 1, 2019, 11:13 PM · Nate, Nate, Nate...
Edited: February 2, 2019, 9:45 AM · One more very special violinist:


He is special in that he is actually the only one virtuostic soloist (or at least playing at that level) who is openly a once very active violinist.com member that I know of (I think the v.com account is truly his, and Laurie also has had some interviews with him here). He never took sides in a heated argument, never got involved in any sort of v.com quarrels under his name, not like me - a hot-tempered beginner.

Not only playing at a soloist level, he also has lots of useful instructional videos on YouTube.

I registered on his website, and have received his regular (automated) emails and newsletters. I mostly never check them, but the ones that I checked all contained useful information about learning violin that was not intended to boldly sell anything. Of course it wouldn't matter to me at all if he inserted flashy banners and pop ups of all prices and discounts for his courses!

I'm not gay (OMG no) but I think he's more handsome than Joshua Bell, who is, according to some v.com antifans, famous mostly because of good looks.

February 2, 2019, 11:14 AM · Leila Josefowicz, for a recording of Prokofiev's first with an expressiveness few others if any other have made, and for having the courage and conviction to promote new music despite our common inertia.
February 2, 2019, 11:18 AM · Matt Lawrence: Have you listened to his podcasts? He does podcasts with his wife, who happens to be in LA Phil as well. It gives you a good look on the inner workings of professional violin life.

It's really great! I catch myself having to suppress my laugh at work.


February 2, 2019, 1:43 PM · Hilary Hahn and Anne Akiko Myers. Two completely different approaches and sounds that I can’t get enough of.
February 2, 2019, 8:44 PM · @Carl, thanks for the suggestion! I'm sure the podcasts are interesting insights into the life of a professional.
February 2, 2019, 8:52 PM · Anne Sophie Mutter. Such electrifying, passionate playing.
February 2, 2019, 9:03 PM · A few of my favorites include Jerry Goodman, Yuzuko Horigome, and Mark o’connor.
Edited: February 3, 2019, 9:01 AM · I cannot name a favorite violinist (not any more). I grew up on Kreisler and Heifetz - but Milstein, Szigetti, Ricci and Stern were also big names at the time - and Erica Morini.

I have had the good fortune to be in the room with a few of our current soloists and it is truly amazing to hear what they really sound like with no mechanical or electronics intervening.

In my heart I have a special place for Anne Akiko Meyers because she was 6 when she first soloed (Vivaldi A minor) with our community orchestra - 7 the next year (Bach double) and 12 when she returned from her debut with the LA Phil to play the Mendelssohn with us. I was CM of that orchestra for 20 years and honored to be in that seat for that last performance. So I feel a personal reason to follow her career.

The famous violin soloists I have heard in concert are Heifetz, Elman, Stern, Szigeti, Sarah Chang, Perlman, Zukerman, Meyers, Hahn, Bell, Lara St. John and some Paganini competition winners whose names I cannot recall at the moment. And I attended a Midori masterclass a few years ago and the quality of her sound is still etched in my memory.

February 3, 2019, 12:10 PM · Andrew, you really are a man from another time. I wish I could say I listened to Heifetz live.
February 3, 2019, 3:41 PM · These two aren't living - but definitely check out recordings of Jascha Heifetz and David Oistrakh. :-)
February 3, 2019, 10:46 PM · Manami Ito, the one armed violinist.
February 3, 2019, 11:14 PM · Ilya Kaler

February 4, 2019, 5:56 AM · Living and not living, M.VENGEROV
February 4, 2019, 6:48 AM · Isabelle Faust, Rachel Barton Pine, Johnny Gandelsman
February 4, 2019, 7:12 AM · In no particular order: Augustin Hadelich, Gidon Kremer, Rachel Podger, Hilary Hahn, Frank Peter Zimmermann, Janine Jansen ... and many others.

My alltime favourite: Heifetz. Milstein. And Philippe Hirschhorn, he was phenomenal.

February 5, 2019, 11:16 AM · Nicola Benedetti. Always warm and felt performances - the Brahms sonatas with Grynyuk are to die for - and a passionate advocate for musical education. Bringing the Scottish premiere of Wynton Marsalis' concerto to a hall near me this week!
February 6, 2019, 12:04 AM · Oh, adding one more violinist to my list, not a frequent soloist, but a favorite orchestral leader: Lorenza Borrani, CM of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Spira Mirabilis. I haven't seen anyone better at leading a section. When I first became a section leader, she was the person I watched and tried to emulate.
February 7, 2019, 6:35 PM · When I first heard Anne Akiko Meyers play Spiegel im Spiegel I went out and bought the sheet music and tried to play it myself. It was such a terrifying experience that I never tried again. Nothing can match her tone on those long, exposed notes. Her latest CD has been in my car for some time now.

James Ehnes is also on my list, both because he's Canadian and because he also plays viola.

February 8, 2019, 8:25 AM · Personally, I prefer the dead to the living (not in a satanic or goth way lol). However, Leonidas Kavakos and Frank Peter Zimmerman in my view are quite superior. Usually my number 1 favorite interpretation of a piece is played by someone dead, but like Carl S said earlier, Kavakos's Schostakovich No. 1 is definitely an exception.
February 17, 2019, 9:47 AM · Hilary Hahn. People always talk about her flawless intonation but I think her right hand is just as, if not more, ridiculous.

I will say Ehnes has a better catalogue of recordings though.

February 17, 2019, 10:38 AM · Whether one likes Ms. Hahn or not, at least she is one of the few who would record so-called "bad" or "second tier" music, usually along with a better regarded work. She doesn't really seems to care whether it will be acceptable for the modern audience, and just does it. In this and a few other regards, she keeps honoring some "old school" traditions which should perhaps have never become "old" in the first place.

Who really plays the Vieuxtemps 4 and Spohr 8 in public anymore? They should.

February 17, 2019, 4:11 PM · Ben Mink! He contributed to a couple of RUSH albums, Titus Munteanu of Abney Park!!!
February 24, 2019, 1:59 PM · I am a huge fan of Isabelle Faust Whenver I see a new recording i mentally prepare myself to pretty much put my recordings of the works in some far off corner cause they will just seem weak in comparison. Her tone is pure and I love her influences from historical preformance.
Her Mendelssohn is my favorite and I love her Mozart as well as her beehtoven (concerto and sonatas).

As well as other greats like Ida Haendel and Jansen and vilde frang and Kavakos.

February 24, 2019, 9:37 PM · I'm going to exclude my teacher, even though she's an exceptional soloist and has really inspired my playing tremendously.

So in light of that, I'd have to say Perlman. Especially in his older recordings before he swapped violins, I found that his playing pulls on my emotions more than other soloists. Feel like I can live the music more.

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