“As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born in the world, raised in the world having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world
To keep the body in good health is a duty, for otherwise we shall not be able to trim the lamp of wisdom, and keep our mind strong and clear. Water surrounds the lotus flower, but does not wet its petals.”
The Buddha -- Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gil Shaham

This morning on the way to work, listening to KUSC, as always, i heard Gil Shaham's playing Haydn's 4th violin concerto. The sound was so charming, didn't remember hearing this piece before, have to check it out. Too bad i arrived at work before the piece ended.

Gil Shaham is one of my favorite violinists. I first heard him play at least 15 years ago and was immediately drawn to the lyrical quality of the sound. For the untrained ears of mine i could only tell that Shaham's sound was very nice and there was an elegant clarity to it. The flow of the sound was smooth and easy. His playing somehow reminded me of that from Yehudi Menuhin, my favorite violinist. I could not help but looking for more information about him.

He was born in the US in 1971, while his Israeli parents, both scientists, were spending time at the University of Illinois on an academic fellowship. At the age of 4, after hearing recordings by Itzhak Perlman, he asked his parents to buy him a violin. A 4 years old? in relating to my modest Buddhist studying, i could only say that it must be karma, the seed surely had been sewn in his previous incarnation(s) :-). At age 10 he performed with the Israel Philharmonic conducted by Zubin Mehta. At 11 he was admitted to Juilliard, studying under Dorothy DeLay who also taught other amazing violinists like Midori, Sarah Chang. He attended Columbia University after turning down Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Impressive!

His talent was put to a test in 1989 when he filled in for Itzhak Perlman in London because Perlman was having ear infection.

My first Gil Shaham's recording was Vivaldi: The Four Seasons/Fritz Kreisler: Concerto for Violin The second one was Wieniawski: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2
but i take anything he plays :-) and love to attend his concerts. when he comes to town.

Gil Shaham currently plays with his Stradivarius violin, the "Comtesse de Polignac" of 1699, originally lent to him by the Stradivari Society in Chicago ( i better check out other recipients from this list :-) )

Sidetracking, i found this interesting article about lending Stradivarius instruments. So impressed with this quote by Mary Galvin, one of the lenders "I realised though that many artists could not afford the tools of their trade; we try to give them a leg up. The instruments inspire the musicians to search for a new, more profound voice. Then they go out and make recordings and for a few dollars everyone can enjoy these incredible instruments and the music these talented youngsters express."


  1. Try Nobuyuki Tsujii, piano, but I believe you'll like him and his music. Just for a change. :))

    a Flickr contact

    1. Thank you. I will check him out :-)