Hilary Hahn Can Write

I’ve praised virtuoso violinist Hilary Hahn here before, but in this post I want to applaud her for another great artistic skill: her writing.

Hahn keeps a journal on her website, where she blogs about touring and concerts, the classical music industry, travel, and some odd and obscure observations about the minute details of life she sees from her unique vantage point.

She is a very excellent writer.  I always enjoy checking out her little essays when I get a chance; my only complaint is that she doesn’t write more often (I’ve often been disappointed to see months at a time lag by without new material).  Her prose is a whimsical joy, her buoyant focus with the keyboard as evident as it is with string instruments.  Truly, talents tend to cluster, and Hahn is generously blessed with gifts in at least these two arts. 

Consider this excerpt from an August post:

I got a little carried away, I suppose, because I didn’t notice the microphone suspended overhead until the tip of my bow halted as if I had hit a wall. I knew immediately what had happened; I practically leaped back, shocked both at the bow suddenly jamming into my hand and at the crack that I heard from the speakers beyond the stage.

The next morning, in the paper, the review mentioned the airborne flock with the equivalent of a literary wink but griped that the burst of fireworks heard from across the park during my opening solo might have been better saved for another day.

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Recommended music: The Essential Hilary Hahn


I recently checked this out from the library, and love it!  Hahn is a young violinist whose career already warrants this “greatest hits” CD.  Not only is her playing spot-on perfect, but a fine set of works has been chosen for this collection.  From Beethoven and Bach to Shostakovich and Stravinsky, these works are surprisingly cohesive, yet diverse enough to form an interesting collage. 

Further, I was impressed by her lucid, passionate written comments about the music she plays, in another disc I checked out.  Spurred by that, I went to her website, where I found a fantastic playground of music-related writing by Miss Hahn.  Read, among other things, “What To Do With Your Instrument When You’re Bored”– http://www.hilaryhahn.com/favorites/fav_07.shtml.

I also noticed her website revolves around her music, not herself.  No spoiled ego, no incongruously vamp-y photo section here (unlike some other classical musicians that I know cough-cough-Charlotte-Church-cough). 

Finally, a Hilary I can like! :)  Borrow the CD, add her to your collection, and definitely check her out if she comes to your area. 

Recommended for listening to while:

  • gardening on a partly cloudy day
  • doing crossword puzzles in the bath tub
  • drawing dramatic landscapes
  • preparing simple meals for two or fewer
  • driving home from work, if you get off around dusk
  • posting sycophantic comments on obscure pseudo-intellectual blogs