Three-time Grammy Award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn matches expressive musicality and technical expertise with a diverse repertoire guided by artistic curiosity. Her barrier-breaking attitude towards classical music and her commitment to sharing her experiences with a global community have made her a fan favorite. Hahn is a prolific recording artist and commissioner of new works. She is taking a year-long sabbatical over the 2019-20 concert season; she will return to performing in September 2020.
Hahn’s 2018-19 season revolved around the music of Bach, a constant in her musical life. Upon her admission to the Curtis Institute of Music at the age of ten, Hahn dedicated part of nearly every lesson to solo Bach; at 17 she made her recording debut with Hilary Hahn Plays Bach, consisting of three of Bach’s pinnacle works for solo violin. In October 2018, she released the remaining three of the same set of pieces after two decades of anticipation from fans and critics alike, bringing her relationship to this music full circle with a worldwide solo Bach recital tour.
The season was also dedicated to another mainstay of Hahn’s artistic practice: collaboration. In 2019, Hahn premiered two new works written for her: Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Two Serenades for violin and orchestra, completed posthumously by Kalevi Aho, and Lera Auerbach’s Sonata No. 4: Fractured Dreams. The season was bookended by another major release: her most recent solo commission, 6 Partitas by Antón García Abril. García Abril, Auerbach, and Rautavaara had been contributing composers for In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores, Hahn’s Grammy Award-winning multi-year commissioning project to revitalize the duo encore genre. A print edition of the complete sheet music was recently released by Boosey & Hawkes; it contains Hahn’s fingerings, bowings, and performance notes, ensuring that the encores become part of the active violin repertoire.
Hahn has related to her fans naturally from the very beginning of her career. She has committed to signings after nearly every concert and maintains and shares a collection of the fan-art she has received over the course of 20 years. An avid and early blogger, Hahn hosts on her website a variety of original writing dating back to 2002. Her “Postcards from the Road” feature, a series of personal updates from her travels around the world, evolved from an initial year-long postcard project that she began with a classroom of third-graders. She has also published articles on music in mainstream media and created a mini-video-masterclass series around 6 Partitas.
Most recently, Hahn has pioneered two new projects aimed at dispelling traditional barriers in classical performance. Through #100daysofpractice, her Instagram-based practice initiative, Hahn aspires to transform the typically grueling and isolating practice process into a community-oriented, social celebration of artistic development. Since creating the hashtag two years ago, Hahn has completed the project three times under her handle, @violincase; fellow performers and students have contributed nearly 300,000 posts under the hashtag. Her Bring Your Own Baby concerts, developed over recent residencies in Vienna, Seattle, Lyon, and Philadelphia, create opportunities for parents of infants to share their enjoyment of live classical music with their children in a nurturing, welcoming environment. Always free and offered on an infant-friendly schedule, they build on Hahn’s history of performances in unconventional venues such as community dance workshops, yoga studios, and knitting circles.
Hahn is a prolific and celebrated recording artist whose nineteen feature albums on Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, and Sony have all opened in the top ten of the Billboard charts. In addition, she can be found on three DVDs, an award-winning recording for children, and various compilations. Three of Hahn’s albums—her 2003 Brahms and Stravinsky concerto album, a 2008 pairing of the Schoenberg and Sibelius concerti, and her 2013 recording of In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores—have been awarded Grammys. Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto, which was written for Hahn and which she recorded along with the Tchaikovsky concerto, went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. In 2017, she released a fan-oriented retrospective collection that featured new live material recorded with classic direct-to-disc technology and showcased art from her fans.
Hahn has also participated in a number of non-classical productions. She was featured in the Oscar-nominated soundtrack to The Village and has collaborated 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. In 2012, Hahn launched Silfra, a free-improv project with experimental prepared-pianist Hauschka, following an intensive period of development.
Hahn is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions. In 2001, she was named “America’s Best Young Classical Musician” by Time magazine, and in 2010, she appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. In 2014 Hahn was awarded the Glashütte Original Music Festival Prize; she donated the prize money to the Philadelphia music education nonprofit Project 440. She also holds honorary doctorates from Middlebury College—where she spent four summers in the total-immersion German, French, and Japanese language programs—and Ball State University, where there are three scholarships in her name.