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Who is the best violinist now?


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A reason to hear some of the older greats who are still active is that they will be retired or gone soon enough. I wouldn't pass up a chance to hear any of them live if they are playing reasonably close by. The younger ones will be around a lot longer than I will. That's a reason for me to want to hear them live. Take any chance you get to hear a well known soloist.

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There are SO many talented young people out there - technically, I'm amazed that it is posible to do what they do. But I have to nominate Vengerov - he has the "chops," but he seems to have the heart, too. But that is just me. He amazes me. (Of course Sophia and Hillary, and that young woman who peeks out from behind her violin, probably appeal to the guys more!) Shirley

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I guess the problem with this question is that it seems to assume that Heifetz was "just" the best violinist of his day. Heifetz was, like Paganini, a dramatic change in technique and performance practice. He was more than the best violinist alive, he was a step forward in artistry. And by forward, I mean, chronologically. It is my personal belief that violin playing is now better for his influence, but I'm sure someone could create a very convincing argument against my opinion.

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It seems that you're more interested in impressing somebody in the future than deciding yourself who you think is the best violinist is at the moment. I'd suggest you spend some time listening to current virtuosi to reach your own opinions. For without well-founded knowledge and opinions, that person in the future you are trying to impress will probably find you out as rather shallow.

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The "best" violinist probably depends on your gender. I've noticed that Hahn's audiences are weighted toward men, and Bell's audiences are disproportionately female...

If you can only afford to go see a few performers live, I second oldgeezer's suggestion to go see the established greats who have limited performing schedules anymore: Zukerman, Perlman, Starker (not a violinist, but he's terrific and won't live forever), etc. If money's no object, see everyone and decide for yourself who the "greats" are.

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Originally posted by:
The "best" violinist

probably depends on your gender. I've noticed that Hahn's audiences

are weighted toward men, and Bell's audiences are

disproportionately female...


Just because I also happen to be in love with Ms. Hahn doesn't mean

I can't also be in complete awe of her amazing technical



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It was a new level of technical precision, to put it in your terms. Specifically:

1. More consistent intonation at

2. Faster tempi and

3. Heavier bow pressure that forced more transparent technique.

And perhaps, now that I'm thinking about all this, the credit should go to Leopold Auer. I mean, Milstein was less audacious than Heifetz, but a no less prodigious technical wizard. How long after Heifetz's debut was Milstein's?

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Heifetz: début in Berlin on 23 May 1912 (age 11)

The popular story is that Kreisler heard Heifetz play in Berlin and reportedly said "Now we can all break our fiddles across our knees."

Milstein: début in Odessa in 1920 (age 16)

Two additional points:

4. Heifetz's use of constant brilliant vibrato was also an important uniqueness.

5. Milstein did not use the heavy bow pressure of Heifetz, but I feel his technique is completely transparent and the only weakness this might have brought him is I don't think his tone could carry as far as Heifetz's.

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Well, I admit that Miss Hahn is amazing in every way, but since she's hardly out of fans, I'd rather put in a word for Nikolaj Znaider from Denmark, I heard him here a few weeks ago and that was something to remember indeed. I think there are many extremely good violinists, but few of them have the taste it takes to be more than thecnically convincing. For cellists, I like Truls Mørk and Annerl Bylsma a lot.

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I have been under the impression that there might not be anyone who

meets some aspects of the standards of the earlier greats.

Technicality might go without saying that some sections which in

the past were not always performed to perfection, now, it's no

great rarity, e.g. the double harmonics of Paganini concerto no 1

last mov. And musicality is sometimes very well worked out and

executed (no pun intended, but it might be arguable !!), however

real emotional meaning seems to not appear very often anymore, and

what is musicality worth if it doesn't grasp the emotions. It can

be brilliancy, sad, exulting, heart rending, causing tears, ascetic

beauty causing love of g-d, of nature, of people....etc. all these

are examples of how musicality should grip emotions, and I

feel that today, such expression is short circuited and is not

allowed to take place. Or maybe it is actually missing talent


Great technicality is necessary for this, but I don't think that is

what is lacking, it's what is done with it.

But, I like this thread and I'm following what people are saying,

and it makes me want to hear. I haven't heard too much Hahn,

really. Yes, Bell has quite good style, but.......... I don't know,

I can't say that anyone is bad.

There is also that one who plays Paganini violin concerto for Music

Minus One. They seem to hint that he might be as re-incarnation of

Paganini. I don't think so, but I can see some qualities. I also

wouldn't say that Alexander Markov is all that bad on my new DVD of

Paganini caprices (but I hear the feeling better when I'm not

watching it on the screen). I also recently got the caprices on cd

played by that famous Chinese woman (forgot the name), who is

technically flawless, and musically very good, but still falls

quite short of  what I'm looking for.

Older ones come closer to what I like to hear, and on occasion, I'm

blown off my feet.But it's a shame that I didn't yet finish my

own technique, because I still feel I would know what to do

with it (if you understand what I mean!)

(sorry about so much mention of Paganini, it's only that that's

what I'm giving alot of attention to just recently, but does not

change what I'm trying to say).

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Quoting Erika...

"Hey, I've always said that Josh Bell could stand on stage and tune for 25 minutes and I'd still go.

While we're on the topic of up-and-coming young artists, let me throw in a plug for Philippe Quint."

They're both pretty impressive. Quint is definately one to watch. I'll be seeing him when he's with the Santa Fe Symphony in December.

I also just got 2 tickets to see Bell play with the New Mexico Symphony - those two tickets were more expensive than our entire 2007/08 season tickets were!

I like Mutter too - but half of that is her style - not necessarily her playing.

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Hmm... in that case, I guess it just depends on how much money you want to spend and where you live. I mean, if you live in New York City, I obviously can't tell you to go see everyone who comes to town, but if you live somewhere smaller (like where I grew up), I'd say take every opportunity you can. Chances are, if they're on tour you've got about a 60% chance of seeing a great performance (3 in 5 was always about my luck at least).

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