November 27 ~  Very Balanced Life Hilary Hahn: Brahms, Stravinsky

"I've had a very balanced life. It just happened that I was more interested in the violin than other kids. There were kids who concentrated on sports. I focused on the violin." ~ Hilary Hahn

Time magazine has called her "America's best young musician," award-winning classical violinist Hilary Hahn (1979-) was born on this day in Lexington, Virginia. She first began lessons a few weeks shy of her fourth birthday and gave her first recital at age 10.

"My first teacher told me to think of (performance) as giving a gift to the audience--as though you're inviting them in for a party," Hahn explained, following her musical passion for most of her life.

Admitted to Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music at age ten, five years later she played Beethoven for her European concert debut. In 1997, she released her first album, Hilary Hahn plays Bach. "I like to record. It's very intense," she said. "But it's very educational--the one time you get to listen to yourself."

The Los Angeles Times described her playing as "pristine." Washington Post reviewer Joseph McClellan compared her to Jascha Heifetz, Itzhak Perlman, and Joseph Szigeti. "On the level of pure technical facility--the challenging chords and counterpoint--her performance is amazing," McClellan wrote.

Her second CD, Beethoven Violin Concerto, Bernstein Serenade (1999) paired the music of Beethoven and Leonard Bernstein.

"Both were 36 when they wrote their concertos," Hahn explained in the liner notes. "Both were pianists and conductors, as well as composers." The record earned her a second Diapason d'or award and Grammy nomination.

Her official website, Hilary's Journal: Postcards from the Road, grew from a promise she made to a third-grade class to send postcards from the cities she visits. So far, the site contains over 150 entries and 2,500 photos.

When asked for advice, Hahn told young musicians "to always remember what my first teacher Mrs. Berkovich told me: 'You only have to practice on the days that you eat.'"

"I love music," she said. "I feel so lucky to be able to focus on music in my life."

Follow your passion. Focus on what's in your heart.