Hilary Hahn Has a Special Place In Her Heart for This Concerto

Aug 15, 2016

Does a song, or even a symphony, trigger memories of important moments and milestones in your life? For violinist Hillary Hahn, a little-known, 19th-century concerto is an important part of her history and her current repertoire.


On Sunday, August 21st at 1 pm on WRTI, listen to a re-broadcast of Hilary Hahn playing Henri Vieuxtemps' Violin Concerto No. 4 with The Philadelphia Orchestra in a concert recorded live in December, 2015.

Radio script:

MUSIC: Vieuxtemp's Violin Concerto No. 4, Hilary Hahn and The Philadelphia Orchestra

Susan Lewis:  The fourth violin concerto of Belgian violinist and composer Henri Vieuxtemps is like an old friend to Hilary Hahn.

Hilary Hahn: It was the last thing I learned before I started studying at the Curtis Institute of Music when I was 10 years old. I was taught by my Russian teacher, Klara Berkovich.

SL: She also can trace a student/teacher connection with the composer himself.

HH:   Vieuxtemps taught Eugène Ysaÿe, the great Belgian violinist. And Ysaÿe taught my teacher, Jascha Brodsky, with whom I studied at Curtis.

SL: But her love for the work is more than personal. Hahn says the concerto really shows off the violin, both musically and technically.

HH: It’s also very operatic; it has these theatrical elements to it, a lot of flourishes, and a lot of simple lines that enable the performer to really express a lot of different things. And it has some beautiful soaring, complex elements as well. So there’s a lot to work with.

SL:  Vieuxtemps, who composed mostly for violin, lived for many years in Paris, and for five years in Russia, where he started a violin school at the conservatory in St. Petersburg. Hahn has recorded the work with another work from her past - Mozart’s 5th Violin Concerto, which was the first piece she studied at Curtis, with her teacher there, Jascha Brodsky.