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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)

Hilary Hahn

Plays Bach - Sonatas I & II, Partita I

Decca Classics

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1 Bach: Sonata for Violin Solo No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001 - Adagio  
2 Fuga (Allegro)  
3 Siciliana  
4 Presto  
5 Bach: Partita for Violin Solo No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002 - Allemande  
6 Double  
7 Courante  
8 Double (Presto)  
9 Sarabande  
10 Double  
11 Tempo di Bourree  
12 Double  
13 Bach: Sonata for Violin Solo No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 1003 - Grave  
14 Fuga  
15 Andante  
16 Allegro  
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Hilary Hahn: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

When Hilary Hahn plays Bach came out on Sony in 1997, critics were astounded that a performer would choose solo Bach for her debut album; they were further confounded by her elegant approach to this music's technical and interpretive challenges at such a young age. Bach expert Nicholas Anderson wrote in BBC Music Magazine at the time, "Bach's six unaccompanied solos - three each of partitas and sonatas - have long been regarded as the pinnacle of violin writing and the most elusive of goals for the aspiring performer... Hahn's affection for Bach's music becomes apparent at almost every turn; and the concluding movement of the C major Sonata is a tour de force. I long to hear more." Stereo Review wrote, "I would go so far as to say that I've never heard this legendary, impossible piece of music played on a higher level, technically and musically, than it is on Hahn's debut CD. This is simply a magnificent performance, completely true in all its parts and possessed of a depth and wisdom that belie the performer's age. Unlike most of the violinists who play this music, she is truly its master, and that frees her to play it with soul."

Now 38, she completes her recording of the Bach sonatas and partitas for solo violin in an album that will be released on Decca Classics on October 5, 2018. The new album includes the first partita and first and second sonatas.