Home » Artists » In 27 Pieces

Hilary Hahn: Bio

Three-time Grammy Award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn is renowned for her clear and brilliant musicality, expansive interpretations of an incredibly varied repertoire, and organic connections with her audience. Her creative approach to music-making and her commitment to sharing her experiences with a global community have made her a fan favorite. She recently created the Instagram project #100DaysOfPractice for which she posted videos of herself practicing for a hundred days straight, openly sharing her behind-the-scenes work with her fans to break down perceived barriers around the creative process. 

Hahn devotes much of the 2018-19 season to a thread that has bound her entire musical career together. In October she released Bach's Partita No. 1 and Sonatas 1 and 2, after the two decades of anticipation from fans and critics alike that followed her first album, Hilary Hahn plays Bach, released when she was only 17. Throughout the fall and spring, she performs solo Bach recitals in Vienna, Paris, New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Toronto, Tokyo, Seoul, Berlin, London, and Munich. Also in 2018-19, she is Artist-in-Residence at the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, with whom she will perform Sibelius in Austria, Germany, France, and Spain and premiere the final violin concerto of Einojuhani Rautavaara, written for Hahn and completed posthumously by Kalevi Aho. She takes Mozart's fifth concerto to Japan and Korea with Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, performs Prokofiev's first concerto with Järvi and the Philharmonia Orchestra in Germany, and returns to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Sibelius.

Bach has been a part of Hahn's life from the beginning of her musical studies, including with her first teacher, Klara Berkovich. At ten she was admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia to study with Jascha Brodsky, a former pupil of Eugène Ysaÿe and Efrem Zimbalist, who dedicated part of nearly every lesson to solo Bach. She often incorporates movements of the partitas and sonatas into her free – and sometimes surprise – concerts for knitting circles, community dance workshops, yoga groups, art students, and parents with their babies. She developed these mini concerts as part of recent residencies in Vienna, Seattle, Lyon, and Philadelphia, and will continue to do so this year at Radio France, encouraging music lovers to combine live performance with their interests outside the concert hall and providing opportunities for parents to enjoy live music with their infants.

In addition to honoring the traditional violin literature, Hahn constantly delves into the unexpected. Her latest commission, her first for solo violin and her first of a set of works from a single composer, is six partitas by Antón García Abril, which she premiered in the United States, Europe, and Japan. García Abril was also one of the composers for In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores, Hahn's multi-year commissioning project to revitalize the duo encore genre. Her album of those encores won a Grammy for Best Chamber Music/ Small Ensemble Performance in 2015, and the print edition of the complete sheet music will be released by Boosey & Hawkes. Complete with Hahn's fingerings, bowings, and performance notes, the sheet music will ensure that the encores become part of the active violin repertoire.

Hahn's curiosity extends beyond music. After having completed her university requirements at the Curtis Institute at sixteen and having already made her solo debuts with the Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Utah, and Bavarian Radio symphony orchestras; the Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Budapest Festival orchestras, and the New York Philharmonic, among others, she chose to continue her studies for three more years, delving into languages, literature, and writing. She spent four summers at the Marlboro Music Festival and another four in the total-immersion German, French, and Japanese programs at Middlebury College. She holds honorary doctorates from Middlebury College and Ball State University, where there are also three scholarships in her name.

Hahn has released eighteen albums on the Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, and Sony labels, in addition to three DVDs, an Oscar-nominated movie soundtrack, an award-winning recording for children, and various compilations. Hahn's first Grammy came in 2003 for her Brahms and Stravinsky concerto album. A pairing of the Schoenberg and Sibelius concerti spent 23 weeks on the charts and earned Hahn her second Grammy. Jennifer Higdon's Violin Concerto, which was written for Hahn and which Hahn recorded along with the Tchaikovsky concerto, went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. In 2012 Hahn launched Silfra with experimental prepared-pianist Hauschka. The album was produced by Valgeir Sigurðsson and was entirely improvised by Hahn and Hauschka following an intensive period of development. In 2017 she released a retrospective collection that also contained new live material and art from her fans, in keeping with a decades-long tradition of collecting fan art at concerts. 

Hahn is known for her natural ability to connect with fans, from their art projects and her YouTube interview series (youtube.com/hilaryhahnvideos), to her violin case's comments on life with a concert violinist on Twitter and Instagram (@violincase). She was an early blogger, sending her fans "postcards from the road" on her website, hilaryhahn.com, and publishing articles in mainstream media. In 2001, Hahn was named "America's Best Young Classical Musician" by Time magazine, and in 2010, she appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. Hahn was featured in the Oscar-nominated soundtrack to The Village and has participated in a number of non-classical productions, collaborating on two records by the alt-rock band ….And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, on the album Grand Forks by Tom Brosseau, and on tour with folk-rock singer-songwriter Josh Ritter.

(As of August 10, 2018)

1 Franghiz Ali-Zadeh: Impulse  
2 Somei Satoh: Bifu  
3 Du Yun: When a Tiger Meets a Rosa Rugosa  
4 David Lang: light moving  
5 Bun-Ching Lam: Solitude d'automne  
6 Paul Moravec: Blue Fiddle  
7 Anton Garcia Abril: Third Sigh  
8 Avner Dorman: Memory Games  
9 David Del Tredici: Farewell  
10 Mason Bates: Ford's Farm  
11 Einojuhani Rautavaara: Whispering  
12 Gillian Whitehead: Torua  
13 Richard Barrett: shade  
14 Jennifer Higdon: Echo Dash  
15 Christos Hatzis: Coming To  
16 Jeff Myers: The Angry Birds of Kauai  
17 Mark-Anthony Turnage: Hilary's Hoedown  
18 Valentin Silvestrov: Two Pieces  
19 Kala Ramnath: Aalap and Tarana  
20 Lera Auerbach: Speak, Memory  
21 Tina Davidson: Blue Curve of the Earth  
22 Elliott Sharp: Storm of the Eye  
23 Michiru Oshima: Memories  
24 James Newton Howard: 133... At Least  
25 Nico Muhly: Two Voices  
26 Soren Nils Eichberg: Levitation  
27 Max Richter: Mercy  
'In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores' Album Trailer
Hilary Hahn: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

Throughout her career, Hilary Hahn has been an advocate for new music - most notably commissioning a concerto by Edgar Meyer and a Pulitzer Prize-winning concerto by Jennifer Higdon. Her recent album, Silfra, was a genre-bending experiment with prepared-pianist Hauschka. Prior to that, she released an album of sonatas by Charles Ives. More than ten years ago, Hahn began her most ambitious project, "In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores," to expand and enrich the violin repertoire. She commissioned more than two dozen composers to write short-form pieces for acoustic violin and piano and toured these new works internationally over the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons in countries such as Turkey, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, Austria and Spain.