Gil Shaham

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Gil Shaham

Violin

• Born 1971

Editor's Choice

Born in Illinois, USA, in 1971, Gil Shaham is one of the most recognisable names in the violin world, thanks in part to a long and successful recording career. He studied in Jerusalem after his family relocated there during his childhood, but America beckoned again in his student years, and it’s there that he made his career. He set out on the path to success as a soloist 1980s, and an opportunity presented itself in the form of an indisposed Itzakh Perlman, for whom Shaham deputised on a series of concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra in 1989. Dozens of recordings followed in the years that followed, many for the prestigious Deutsche Grammophon label, including this pairing of great violin concertos by Sibelius and Tchaikovsky – a great demonstration of Shaham’s powerful presence and warmth in some of the pillars of the violin repertoire.

Biography

Violinist Gil Shaham entered the international spotlight in the 1990s as one of several young solo violinists vying for the attention of audiences the world over. Aided by positive publicity and an enviable recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon, Shaham proved -- as a recitalist and through guest appearances with major orchestras -- that he was an artist beyond the need for public relations buildup -- an artist whose musical gifts would assure him an ongoing presence among the world's leading string players.

Shaham was born on February 19, 1971 in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, but moved at the age of two with his parents to Israel. At the age of seven, he began studies with Samuel Bernstein at the Rubin Academy of Music. Soon he was awarded the first of a series of annual scholarships granted through the American Israel Cultural Foundation. In 1981, he made debuts with both the Israel Philharmonic and the Jerusalem Symphony. The following year, he placed first in the Claremont Competition in Israel and left to enter the Juilliard School of Music in New York as a scholarship student and, later, to attend Columbia University. In 1990, Shaham earned the Avery Fisher Career Grant before embarking on a performing career. During the 1998-1999 season, Shaham participated in a two-week series of concerts by Pierre Boulez and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra devoted to the music of Béla Bartók. Resulting from this mini-festival was a recording of Bartók's Violin Concerto No. 2 and the two Rhapsodies for Violin and Orchestra. In 1998, he undertook a tour of mainland China which included performances with principal orchestras in Beijing and Shanghai. His seriousness as a musician has made him a favored partner for many of the world's leading conductors, and other instrumentalists have been eager to collaborate with him in chamber music performances. Shaham was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize in 2008.

His relationship with Deutsche Grammophon produced many distinguished recordings, two of them Grammy nominees and another (a solo disc with pianist André Previn) a Grammy winner. Shaham has recorded the violin concertos of Bruch, Mendelssohn, Paganini, Saint-Saëns, Sibelius, and Tchaikovsky, with the late Giuseppe Sinopoli directing the New York Philharmonic and the Philharmonia Orchestra. His Grammy-nominated coupling of the Barber and Korngold concertos was done in collaboration with André Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra, as was a release offering the first and second Prokofiev concertos, also a Grammy nominee. Among the composers represented on his solo recordings are Elgar, Franck, Kreisler, Ravel, Schumann, and Richard Strauss. Best-selling collections have included Dvorák for Two, with accompaniment by Shaham's sister, pianist Orli Shaham, and Paganini for Two, performed with guitarist Göran Söllscher. Another remarkable success was a DG recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Shaham's Grammy-winning release with pianist André Previn included a new sonata written by Previn for his violinist collaborator. In 2001, DG released a recording featuring Shaham performing John Williams' Violin Concerto with the composer conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Shaham founded the label Canary Classics in 2003. The 2019 album, Avner Dorman: Letters from Gettysburg, featured Shaham and was released on his label.

Shaham settled in New York with his wife, violinist Adele Anthony. The instrument he has played for his recordings and public performances is a Stradivarius, the 1699 "Countess Polignac."

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