Hilary Hahn

Hilary Hahn


• Born 1979

Editor's Choice

Having made her concert debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the age of 11, American violinist Hilary Hahn had completed the requirements of the Curtis Institute's degree programme five years later. A well-rounded musician, she is equally at home performing concertos, chamber music and contemporary works. In addition to being one of the most accomplished violinists of her generation, Hahn speaks fluent German, enjoys outdoor sports and has been known to study anatomy charts in her spare time. This Grammy award-winning 2014 album of encores is the result of commissioning 26 contemporary composers to each write a short piece for her, the final piece being chosen through an open competition. The eventual winner, 'The Angry Birds of Kauai' by American composer Jeff Myers' was chosen from among over 400 submissions. Elsewhere on the album are works by Jennifer Higdon - whose violin concerto is dedicated to Hahn - and James Newton Howard, with whom she first collaborated ten years earlier on the soundtrack to M. Night Shyamalan's 'The Village'. The album is as representative of the world as Hahn's touring schedule, featuring composers from China, Finland, Canada, Japan, Germany, India and Israel.


Among the world's leading violinists, Hilary Hahn emerged in the late 1990s as a prodigy, and in the following decades she received critical praise for her recordings of standard concerto repertoire from Bach to Barber, as well as contemporary works by Edgar Meyer and Jennifer Higdon.

Hahn began playing the violin before her fourth birthday and soon began studies via the Suzuki method. She took lessons from Russian violinist Klara Berkovich from 1984 to 1989, and from 1990, she studied violin at the Curtis Institute under Jascha Brodsky.

In 1991, Hahn debuted with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and by the mid-90s she had appeared with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. In addition, she had debuted in Europe in 1995 with Lorin Maazel and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, playing Beethoven's Violin Concerto.

Even though she could have graduated at 16, Hahn stayed on at Curtis for additional courses and graduated at 19 in 1999. By then she had made two recordings under her contract for Sony, Hilary Hahn Plays Bach, and an album pairing Beethoven's Violin Concerto and Bernstein's Serenade, both critical and commercial successes.

In 2003, Hahn signed a recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon, and her first album, Bach: Concertos, again was devoted to her favorite composer. She was the violin soloist in James Newton Howard's score for M. Night Shyamalan's 2004 film The Village. In 2005. Hahn branched out into crossover music in a series of concerts with American singer and songwriter Tom Brosseau. Two years later, she appeared in concert in crossover fare once again, this time with Josh Ritter, another popular American artist. Hahn also collaborated with the indie rock group, ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead. In 2009, she commissioned a concerto from Jennifer Higdon, which earned the composer a Pulitzer Prize in 2010, and the work was released that year on Deutsche Grammophon. In 2012, Hahn released Silfra, an entirely improvised recording with German pianist and composer Hauschka, also known as Volker Bertelmann. Hahn then began her project, In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores, commissioning pieces from a variety of composers to use on tours through the 2012-2013 season.

In 2015, Hilary Hahn: The Complete Sony Recordings was released, and Deutsche Grammophon issued a retrospective collection of her recordings in 2018, while that year also saw the release of Hilary Hahn plays Bach: Sonatas 1 & 2, Partita 1 on Decca, revisiting touchstones of her career.

Apart from recording, Hahn has introduced a series of free, community-oriented concerts aimed at families with infants who would otherwise be unable to attend.