One can easily pull to mind some of the greatest violinists of all time. Niccolo Paganini, Jascha Heifetz, Itzhak Perlman, to name a few. But when it comes to the performing stars of today, perhaps we need a refresher.
From rising stars to pop sensations and renowned concertmasters, in this article, we’re going to look at the who’s who of violinists of today.
How we chose the violinists for this list?
To determine who should make this illustrious list, we looked at playing ability, noteworthiness, and relevance to a modern audience. Whilst some rate most prolifically in terms of technical ability and accolades, others have made a serious name for themselves through creative means like YouTube. Although subjective, we’ve done our best to provide a comprehensive overview.
Note that we have not ranked any of these musicians, nor are they listed in any particular order, as they each possess unique and varying talents. Consider this a compilation of names to watch out for!
These are the best modern violinists you should know:
One of the best among the best
In February 2023, Sareika-Völkner was announced as the newest concertmaster for The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (often considered the best in the world). She’s also their first female lead violinist since the formation of the orchestra in 1882.
Playing on a 1683 Stradivarius violin on loan to her from the Ruggieri Foundation, she’s described as having a personal sound married with passion and fire.
The Latvian violinist began playing at the age of five, studying at the Paris Conservatoire National and then at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Belgium and is well known for her time as first violinist in the noteworthy Artemis Quartet from 2012 to 2021.
Fun fact: Stradivarius violins’ unique sound can be attributed to their narrower and longer shaped f-holes according to a study done by MIT.
Concert violinist or subway busker?
Bell is an extraordinary violinist who has mesmerized audiences worldwide and whose love affair with the violin started when he was just four years old.
A standout moment occurred in 1982 when, at the mere age of 14, he was already soloing with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Ricardo Muti.
Bell also was involved in a psychology experiment for the Washington Post where he performed Bach at a subway station for 45 minutes. Whilst a thousand people passed him, only seven people stopped to listen. A violinist that people pay hundreds to see in concert halls around the world went surprisingly missed.
The idol, the prodigy
Hahn has astounded the classical music community with her exceptional ability and killer performances. Born in 1979 in Lexington, Virginia, Hahn got her hands on her first violin at just three years old.
Training under the awesome Klara Berkovich from the tender age of five, her talent skyrocketed. At only 10, she made her debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, going on to study at the Curtis Institute of Music, learning from the legendary Jascha Brodsky.
Premiering work from big name composers, Hahn’s still rocking it. She’s recorded music for film soundtracks, like The Village and The Devil’s Violinist, and she’s all about connecting with fans through social media and online platforms.
A young achiever
Also playing since she was three years old, Akiko Suwanai is a wickedly-talented violinist who knows how to work that bow like nobody’s business. Training at Toho Gakuen in Japan and later at Columbia University, Akiko also studied at Juilliard with Dorothy DeLay.
One of Akiko’s biggest accomplishments was making her mark as the youngest winner in the history of the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1990.
Collaborating with the sorts of Yo-Yo Ma and Zubin Mehta, she is no amateur when it comes to performing with the big orchestras of the world either, soloing with the Berlin Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, and London Symphony Orchestra.
Music that you can’t take your ears away from
Known for her passion for music and philanthropic endeavours, Nicola began her formal training at the age of five at the Yehudi Menuhin School under Natalya Boyarskaya. Benedetti then went on to attend the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow.
Winning the BBC Young Talent of the Year contest at 16 years and “Best Classical Instrumental Soloist” at the Grammy Awards, she is in high demand from international orchestras around the world.
Benedetti plays a 1717 Stradivarius violin named Gabriel. Jokingly in an interview, she once remarked that if ever her house were burning down, she would reach for her violin before her cat!
A musician for musicians
Born in Italy to German parents, this extraordinary violinist is known for his persuasive interpretations and relishing tone. Hadelich studied under a diverse array of esteemed teachers, including Joel Smirnoff, Donald Weilerstein, and Christoph Poppen.
Accolades are in no short supply here with a gold medal at the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis in 2006 and a Grammy Award for “Best Classical Instrumental Solo” for his recording of Dutilleux’s Violin Concerto, “L’Arbre des songes”.
Currently, Hadelich teaches a small number of violinists at the Yale School of Music and continues to collaborate with musicians and conductors around the world.
She’s got the moves
Lindsey built her career as a world touring violinist by uploading YouTube videos of her dancing with her violin back in 2007. She dazzles her audiences with a fusion of pop/electronic music accompanied by eccentric and eye-capturing dance moves.
Finding the spotlight on America’s Got Talent in 2010, she has since garnered her own reputation aside from the show, with billions of viewers and multiple appearances on NBC’s The Kelly Clarkson Show. She has also worked with the likes of John Legend, The Piano Guys, and Lzzy Hale and was named in Forbes’ “30 Under 30” in 2015.
Stirling’s artistic vision and charismatic stage presence have made her a trailblazer in the music industry and an inspiration for budding violinists.
The definition of a violinist
A virtuoso of our time, Mutter has left an indelible mark on the classical music scene over her career. Honoured with the prestigious Ernst von Siemens Music Prize for her contributions to the world of classical music, she’s one of the most revered violinists today and of all time.
Commencing her violin studies with Erna Honigberger at age five, her prodigious abilities were soon recognised and she was accepted into the renowned Conservatoire de Musique in Freiburg, Germany, learning under Aïda Stucki.
Mutter’s career soared when she won the International Mozart Competition in Salzburg at age 13. Making her public debut with the Berlin Philharmonic under the baton of Herbert von Karajan.
She has gone on to a career of undeniable success with legendary film composer John Williams, creating new versions of his iconic themes especially for her performance.
A rising star
Lesser known native New Yorker and rising star to keep your eye on. Stratmann’s passion for the violin took off when he was just three years old. Some years later, earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Juilliard, he was recommended by the Dean to apply for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra Academy.
The only New Yorker accepted into the program from about a dozen musicians, he has also achieved success in various prestigious competitions, including the Menuhin Competition and the Queen Elisabeth Competition, solidifying his status as a performer to watch in the coming years.
Virtuosos meet comedic genius
Brett Yang and Eddy Chen are an Australian duo who have accrued popularity through YouTube, where they share their experiences as professional musicians through comedy.
Having a whopping four million subscribers, their videos feature comedic skits, musical challenges, and commentary on various aspects of the violin world. Through their humour, they have inspired a new generation of musicians and garnered a dedicated fan base which allowed them to run the first ever crowdfunded classical world tour back in 2017.
Despite their comedic approach, Brett and Eddy maintain a high level of musicality and technical prowess. Collaborating with artists such as Lang Lang, Hilary Hahn, and Janine Jansen, they continue to perform as concert violinists and use their platform to advocate for the importance of practice, dedication, and the pursuit of musical excellence.
Whilst there are hundreds of names that are worthy of making this list, we have provided a small window into the technically astounding and tremendously engaging violinists of today. From prodigies and accolades to YouTube sensations bringing classical music into the modern world, these are the names to remember.
Who else do you think we should include on this list? Let us know in the comments below!