The violin has a long history dating back to the sixteenth century. So many amazing virtuosos have been born throughout the years that it would be impossible to list them all! Nevertheless, I shall attempt to list some of the most famous local and international violinists whom I personally admire and feel that anyone currently learning to play the violin should aspire to be like.
Korean-American child prodigy Sarah Chang was born into a musical family, and learning to play the violin has been a tremendous journey for her. She was enrolled in the world’s best music institute, Julliard School of Music in New York at the age of 5. Her outstanding performance then led her to perform her solo debut with the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra at the age of 8. Since then, her technical virtuosity has continued to stun audiences up until today.
Her remarkable performances as a musician have provided her with the opportunities to tour around the world to play with many major orchestras. In 2006, her name was listed in Newsweek Magazine, as part of the “Women Leadership, 20 Powerful Women Take Charge” issue. In 2008, she was honoured as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and in 2011, she was appointed as an official Artistic Ambassador by the United States.
Praised by world-renowned violinist Yehudi Menuhin as “the greatest violinist of his generation” and being a student of Itzhak Perlman, David Garret was the youngest-ever artist to sign with Deutsche Grammophon at the age of 13. As a violin prodigy, he recorded all 24 Paganini Caprices, which are some of the most difficult compositions ever written for solo violin at the age of 15. His virtuosic violin playing has earned him 25 gold and 17 platinum awards across the world. In 2013, he was chosen to act as Niccolò Paganini in the movie ‘The Devil’s Violinist’.
Itzhak Perlman is an Israeli-American violinist, music teacher, and conductor. He was inspired to pick up the violin after he heard a violin piece being played on the radio when he was 3 years old. Since then, he taught himself to play the violin and at the age of 13, moved to New York and attended the prestigious Julliard School of Music to learn from Ivan Galamian and Dorothy DeLay.
He made his debut at Carnegie Hall and has played for a few functions at the White House. Despite being a famous classical violinist, Perlman has also performed jazz with jazz pianist Oscar Peterson. His astounding recording of The Schindler’s List in the 1993 film has won an Academy Award for Best Original Score and he was named the Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation Chair in Violin Studies at the Juilliard School.
The three-time Grammy Award winning classical violinist Hilary Hahn is well known for her technical virtuosity and creativity in programming. After her musical talent was discovered, she started learning to play the violin at the young age of 4. She made her orchestral debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at 11 years old, and her international debut with the Budapest Festival Orchestra three years later. She has recorded and released albums under the Deutsche Grammophon and SONY labels, and her recordings include an Oscar-nominated movie soundtrack and an award-winning recording for children.
Scottish-Italian violinist Nicola Benedetti began learning to play the violin with violinist Brenda Smith at 4 years old and was enrolled in the Yehudi Menuhin Violin School at 10. At 11 years old, she played as a soloist in her school’s annual concert, and at 16, she won the BBC Young Musician of The Year competition.
She took over as the president of the European String Teachers Association (ESTA) in 2018 and won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Instrument Solo in 2020. She also launched The Benedetti Foundation which provided online support for many young musicians during the pandemic.
Renowned German classical violinist and pianist Julia Fischer learned to play the violin from the age of 4 and enrolled in the Leopold Mozart Conservatory under the tutelage of Lydia Dubrowskaya at 8 years old. When she was 9 years old, she was accepted into the Munich University of Music and Performing Arts, where she worked with Ana Chumachenco.
At the age of 12, she performed with the famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin and won the International Yehudi Menuhin Violin Competition in 1995. In 2006, she was selected as one of 16 violinists of the century, alongside Jascha Heifetz and Yehudi Menuhin. Her virtuosity on the violin and the piano has made her known as a well-rounded musician of the century.
Performing as a violinist under the mononym of Midori, she made her debut with the New York Philharmonic at the age of 11. Her musical talent was discovered when her mother, also a professional violinist, heard her 2-year-old daughter humming a Bach Concerto that she had been rehearsing two days earlier. At only 6 years old, Midori performed one of the 24 Caprices by Paganini in Osaka and in 1982, she enrolled into the Pre-college Division of Julliard School of Music to study the violin with Dorothy DeLay.
Besides touring the world and performing with major orchestras, Midori founded several non-profit organizations, namely Midori & Friends and MUSIC SHARING that has brought both Western and Japanese music education to the youth community of New York and Japan. She serves as a United Nations Messenger of Peace and her contributions to American culture has awarded her the Kennedy Center Honors.
Singaporean violinist Min Lee made her debut with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra at the President’s Young Performers Concert when she was 12 years old. At 14, she enrolled in Yale University as the youngest student of graduate studies. Graduated at the age of 17, she made her international debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Wigmore Hall and Royal Festival Hall in London.
She has performed with prominent conductors such as Charles Dutoit, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Peter Oundjian, Jahja Ling and Mikhail Pletnev. Besides being a star on stage, she is also a prolific fundraiser and youth ambassador.
Being one of Singapore’s first soloists on the international classical stage, she won the 18th Annual Young Artists Violin Award in the Artists International Competition in 1990 and a Gold Medal at the Henryk Szeryng International Violin Competition in 1994. In 1996, she won the Young Artist Award presented by the Singapore National Arts Council and in 1999, the Prime Minister of Singapore selected her as one of the most inspiring Singaporeans who has marked the world of arts.
As a soloist, she has performed with major orchestras across Europe, the USA, and Asia and she is currently a violin professor at the College of Charleston, South Carolina.
Chloe Chua is a Singaporean violin child prodigy. Only 14 this year, she has made remarkable achievements as a violinist. She started learning to play the violin at the age of 4 at NAFA and the School of Young Talents’ Strings Section, and the piano at the age of 2.5 from her mother, who is a music educator. She has performed at international festivals with major orchestras in Europe and Asia, namely Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra, Russian National Youth Orchestra, and China Philharmonic Orchestra.
She has won numerous prizes in local and international music competitions, the most well-known being the first prize alongside Australian violinist Christian Li in the junior division of the 2018 Yehudi Menuhin International Competition for Young Violinists.
At Aureus Academy, our violin teachers are highly-qualified, with a wealth of experience in teaching children as well as adult beginners. We offer free violin trial lessons for aspiring musicians to experience what they can expect in a regular lesson at Aureus. Our personalised curriculum is specially crafted to cater to each individual learner’s goals and interests.
Jacintha Wong is a violinist, ethnomusicologist, and music educator at Aureus Academy Westgate. She received her Master of Arts (Hons.) in Ethnomusicology from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick. She is also currently a PhD candidate at the University of Malaya, pursuing her last degree researching the history, musical hybridity, and community practices of Celtic Music in Malaysia. Her teaching philosophy is that all children are unique physically, mentally, and emotionally. She aims to bring all her students to meet their full potential as a musician and as an individual.
Aureus Academy is Singapore’s leading music school with over 18,000 students enrolled between our school. Aureus Academy specialises in providing individually tailored piano lessons, violin lessons, guitar lessons, drum lessons and more to students of all ages and abilities.