Simply Violin

Famous Violinists and Violin Pieces

Here are some of my favorite violinists playing some of the greatest repertoire written for the violin, captured on video. Enjoy the tour.

You may notice that most of their left hands look quite similar (except for some variation in thumb position and vibrato, which may be either wrist or arm). Everybody plays on his or her fingertips.

However, the bowing and bow grips tend to vary a bit more. For instance, Jascha Heifetz uses a rather exaggerated "Russian" bow grip. The bow hold that I teach is variously called franco-belgian, Galamian, or American, and is used by many contemporary soloists such as Itzakh Perlman, Sarah Chang, Anne-Sophie Mutter, and Hilary Hahn. This modern bow hold permits more pressure on the string and thus more volume to the sound, and relies more on arm weight rather than bow speed. It is also easier to play at the frog with this modern bow hold than with the Russian grip.
Hilary Hahn
Hilary Hahn is one of the leading voices of a new generation of players. Her technique is very modern and she has a beautiful, warm, and intense yet silky sound. She is known for her performances of unaccompanied Bach Partitas and Sonatas.

Prokofiev Violin Concerto
Chaconne from Partita No.2 by JS Bach
Itzhak Perlman
Itzhak Perlman has an incredibly warm and full sound. Even his fast notes sound well cared for. He is a solid choice for a great recording or concert, no matter the piece or style of music. The Bruch (particularly the slow movement) was a favorite of my childhood violin teacher, Mary West.

Young Perlman plays Wieniawski Violin Concerto
Beethoven Violin Concerto
Bruch Violin Concerto (3rd Movement)
Bruch Violin Concerto (2nd Movement)
Midori is another modern day violinist. With her American style bow hold, she is a powerful player and terrific live performer.

Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2
Carmen Fantasy by Sarasate
Jascha Heifetz
Jascha Heifetz (My teacher's teacher!) Note that Heifetz uses the "Russian School" bow hold. His sound is often described as intense and serious but he was also a master of the violin "showpiece."

Paganini Caprice No. 24 (watch his left hand!) The piano part is by Schumann. This is the ultimate "showpiece."

Sibelius Violin Concerto (no video, but one of my favorite recordings of all time)
David Oistrakh
David Oistrakh
David Oistrakh, from Russia, displays an amazingly intense yet warm tone and such beautiful phrasing.

Brahms Violin Concerto (1st Movement)
Brahms Violin Concerto (2nd Movement)
Brahms Violin Concerto (3rd Movement)
Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto (1st Movement)
Sarah Chang
Sarah Chang is a modern player with a more modern technique and bow grip.

Mendelssohn Violin Concerto (2nd Movement)
Isaac Stern
Isaac Stern
Isaac Stern's bow hold exemplifies the galamian/franco-belgian/American bow grip technique.

His earlier recordings are probably his best, and he was known for his sweet sound and genteel phrasing.

Saint-Saens Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso
Anne-Sophie Mutter
Anne-Sophie Mutter
Anne-Sophie Mutter is a modern day player with with a more modern technique and bow grip. She is well-known for her recordings of Mozart.

Mozart Violin Concerto No 3 (1st Movement)
Erick Friedman
Erick Friedman
Erick Friedman, student of Jascha Heifetz and my teacher at Yale School of Music.

Bach Double (Duet with Jascha Heifetz) during Heifetz masterclass