Hilary Hahn

Hilary HahnUncommonly thoughtful and well-rounded violinist, whose repertory ranges through five centuries, and who has near-perfect tone and technique.

Born:Nov. 27, 1979 in Lexington, Virginia

Career highlights

  • 1991: She makes her major orchestra debut with the Baltimore Symphony.
  • 1995-96: She begins a three-year run at the Marlboro Music Festival. In 1996 she graduates from the Curtis Institute of Music and becomes a full-time touring soloist. She signs her first recording contract.
  • 2004: Plays on the soundtrack for M. Night Shyamalan's The Village, which garners its composer, James Newton Howard both an Academy Award nomination and an AFI nomination to its “100 Years of Great Film Scores” list.
  • 2007: Plays on two tracks from singer-songwriter Tom Brousseau's album Grand Forks. She also begins collaborating with singer-songwriter Josh Ritter. She plays in the Vatican City as part of the ceremonies honoring the election of Pope Benedict XVI.
  • 2010: She premieres a violin concerto by her teacher/ friend Jennifer Higdon. The concerto wins the Pulitzer Prize.

Fun Facts


  • Hilary Hahn plays Milstein's Paganiniana at the Verbier Festival, 2007.
    Numbers: Hahn keeps running totals on the “Facts” section of her website. The score so far: 1,312 concerts played in 276 cities in 42 countries on five continents. She reports she has stayed in “at least 698” hotel rooms.
  • Well-rounded: Hahn speaks three foreign languages (German, French, Japanese), writes most of her professional website, and likes outdoor sports. (She has snorkeled in Iceland – in a drysuit because of the freezing water.) On the road, among other pursuits, she has memorized human anatomy charts.
  • On concert hall etiquette: Hahn doesn't discourage applause between movements. From the Q&A section on her website: “If people want to hoot and holler – or sit in quiet reflection – as long as it’s genuine, as a performer I like the feedback.” And from an interview in the Seattle Times: “I think that if people show up in jeans and chains, it's great that all parts of culture are interested in music. People forget sometimes that it's about the music, not how you act and dress.” She does, however, appreciate quiet during the performance.
  • The Personal Touch: Hahn hangs around after most of her concerts to meet the audience. She posts fan art to her website and her violin case posts messages to Twitter. She makes time for outreach to schoolchildren whenever possible.

SFCV Articles Featuring Hilary Hahn

February 7, 2011

The Return of Hilary Hahn

Violinist Hilary Hahn catapulted into the international spotlight as a teenager, when the uncommon maturity of her debut recording of three of J.S. Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas shot it to the top of the charts. Now all grown up at 31, she continues to exude youthful charm in conversation, speaking in a quasi–little girl voice without a trace of pretense or affectation.

More »

October 19, 2010

Higdon and Hahn Strike It Big

It’s a rare Pulitzer Prize winner in music who can boast a major-label recording of the winning work issued the same year as the award. Indeed, Jennifer Higdon (who won the 2010 Music Pulitzer for her Violin Concerto) would seem to be the first in a long time.

More »

October 23, 2007

A Beautiful Mind

We in the Bay Area have had a remarkable number of opportunities to hear the young violinist Hilary Hahn, whose more-or-less-yearly performances here stretch all the way back to her Brahms Concerto with the Santa Rosa Symphony in 1999. This year her return, courtesy of Cal Performances, was in recital with pianist Valentina Lisitsa, in a dauntingly difficult program given last Tuesday at Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall. It was a program seemingly calculated to demonstrate Hahn's range, and so it did, though not perhaps entirely as it was intended to.

More »