I know, I know this is a piano board. I still like to share an article about this young violinist who seems having something to convey to the music world...
From the New York Times:
November 24, 2002
At 22, a Virtuoso Is a Veteran
By JAMES R. OESTREICH
The violinist Hilary Hahn relates an especially delicious childhood anecdote. It happened when she was 7 or 8 and a veteran of some four years on miniature
versions of her instrument. While at a beach, this miniature version of Ms. Hahn drew a sketch of the wide-open surroundings, including a small plane overhead trailing
a banner, which read, "Come see Hilary Hahn play in Carnegie Hall tonight."
"It was just a pipe dream," she said here one recent rainy morning, while nursing a "medium" cup of tea almost big enough to swim in, at a cafe across Rittenhouse
Square from her apartment. "I didn't really think it would happen."
The sketch remained unfinished, but not the dream. On Tuesday, the day before her 23rd birthday, Ms. Hahn makes her Carnegie recital debut with Natalie Zhu, a
pianist. In fact, Ms. Hahn has already played there several times as a concerto soloist, beginning exactly six years earlier with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Still, she retains some of the awe she felt as an evidently unspoiled child, when people turned out to hear her. "I remember when I gave my first recital," she said. "I
thought, `Oh, my goodness, people are coming to hear me.' I didn't expect anyone to come, and then the whole hall filled up. Of course, it wasn't a big hall, and some
of the people were my friends and family. There wasn't much ego trip at all, but it was kind of eye-opening that music could be that much of a connector between
people. It seems like there's one discovery like that after another and one new experience after another."
By now the experiences have included performances in many of the great halls and with many of the great orchestras in the world. They have also included five
recordings for Sony Classical, most recently the Mendelssohn Concerto and the Shostakovich First with the Oslo Philharmonic.
Ms. Hahn's first recording, made when she was 17, offered three of Bach's six unaccompanied works for violin: the Second and Third Partitas and the Third Sonata.
An inveterate writer, she also contributed booklet notes. The disc was a smash hit by classical standards. Could the rest of the solo Bach works be far behind? Yes, it
turns out. "I don't have any plans for them at the moment, because I like to still have them ahead of me for a while," Ms. Hahn said, "something to look forward to."
When they come, it will probably be on a different label. Ms. Hahn's contract with Sony expired, and she signed a new one with Deutsche Grammophon. Her first
recording for that label, the Bach concertos with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra conducted by Jeffrey Kahane, is half made.
In keeping with her independent streak, Ms. Hahn has so far avoided the crowded crossover route, which would seem ready-made for someone so young and
attractive. She prefers to stick to the serious repertory she does best. Her second Deutsche Grammophon disc is to feature the Elgar Concerto.
Ms. Hahn — who, if possible, looks younger than her years — shows no diva temperament but a healthy self-confidence and a lot of youthful spunk and irreverence.
She likes, for example, to return a reporter's inane questions: "What kind of music do you like to listen to?" "What do you expect to be doing in 20 years." (For the
record, Ms. Hahn likes almost all kinds of music, presumably including the jazz that was blaring from the speakers, and expects to be playing the violin in 20 years.)
In person, she is free with a smile that she generally withholds from the camera. One suspects that like another onetime Philadelphian, the maestro Riccardo Muti, Ms.
Hahn is eager to be taken seriously despite appearances: in his case glamorous; in hers, youthful. Yet to judge from her pure but full and lustrous tone, her agile
technique and her incisive and intelligent interpretations, being taken seriously has seldom been a problem for her.
"She excels in the seriousness of her approach," said the pianist Gary Graffman, who was the director of the Curtis Institute of Music here throughout Ms. Hahn's time
there and still is. "She is very strong-minded, and she knew what she wanted to do from the outset. For special events, people would enourage her to play Paganini or
some other flashy things, but she always wanted to play Bach, and it turned out to be the right thing."
Not that she can't loosen up. The pianist Richard Goode, one of the artistic directors of the Marlboro Festival in Vermont, where Ms. Hahn has worked in recent
years, tells that she and another gifted violinist once prepared a party piece for the birthday of Felix Galimir, a respected older violinist, now dead. The piece consisted
of variations on "Happy Birthday," "full of outrageous virtuoso passages," Mr. Goode said by fax.
"They tossed it off with such style, and so imperturbably," he added, "that we were almost laughing, it was so good."
But Mr. Goode also confirms the dominant impression of Ms. Hahn: "I worked with Hilary on the Brahms G major Sonata — not a young person's piece, really. She
played with a touching purity and instinctive good taste. I had a strong sense that she would not force a feeling or play a phrase that didn't come from somewhere
inside herself; it was a kind of honesty and stubbornness I respected."
Born in Lexington, Va., in 1979, Ms. Hahn was raised mostly in Baltimore. She took up the violin shortly before her fourth birthday and entered the elite Curtis
Institute in 1990, at 10. Since the institute requires the presence of a parent in Philadelphia for younger students, her father, a librarian and a journalist, joined her
there. Her mother holds an important position with Baltimore Gas and Electric.
"Now she's head of finance and accounting, so she's a big boss," Ms. Hahn said. "She has the most full-time job of all of us, I think. I at least get some hours during
the day to take a walk."
At 13, Ms. Hahn began playing an 1864 Vuillaume instrument, which she ended up buying from a Russian family in Baltimore. "I've basically grown up on it and with
it, and I'm very attached to it," she said. "I really know it inside out, and also, in a way, it knows me."
At Curtis, Ms. Hahn studied with the legendary Jascha Brodsky, who died in 1997 at 90, and then with Jaime Laredo. She finished the required studies at 16 but
continued to take courses in languages and literature while performing around the world. She finally claimed her degree in 1999.
Ms. Hahn made debuts with the Baltimore Symphony at 10 and with the New York Philharmonic at 14. The circumstances of the Philharmonic engagement carry
particular resonance. Ms. Hahn was a late substitute for an indisposed Midori. Midori, who had made her Philharmonic debut at 10, was then 22, the same age Ms.
Hahn is now, and like many another child prodigy, she appeared to be having difficulty making the transition to mature artist. She had to cancel four months of
concerts because of a digestive disorder, seemingly symptomatic of the difficulty.
So how is Ms. Hahn weathering that transition? ("How are you weathering your transition to old age?" she might well have asked, but her impeccable manners
"I never felt like a prodigy," she said. "For one thing, the root of the word is rather monstrous, literally. I never really felt like a monster or anything abnormal, because
I always had a lot of different interests. But kids tend to focus on one thing, and for me it was violin. And I was lucky to have good teachers. I didn't really feel that I
was forced into the limelight. I didn't feel like I was two different people, the person who was in school and person who was on the road.
"The hardest transition for a lot of people is being out of school, when suddenly the whole world is open to you. I was lucky, because I was already sort of in the
middle of that, since I was mainly on the road. So it was actually as smooth a transition as you can imagine. Everyone is always making transitions in life. It's hard to
say that there's just one that once you've made it, you're safe. And by the same token, I don't think there's any one transition that will break you. What seems like a
major turning point is actually preceded by a lot of small ones and followed by a lot of small ones. It's a matter of when other people notice the transition."
So it is easy to notice a certain maturity in Ms. Hahn's outlook, whatever may have been there before. But a childlike enthusiasm remains. How else to explain her
Web site (www.hilaryhahn.com
), which is still maintained by Sony? Since 1998, she has maintained a journal in the form of "postcards" from the various cities she
visits. In fact, she goes postcards one better and takes her own pictures with a digital camera.
In her own serious way, she seems to be having a lark. "In music you can find your own niche," she said. "You can do what you want to do. There is really no job
description. You have to find your own way, and that's fun."
I sincerely wish her the best with her life and music making.