Inspiration Corner: 5 Famous Violin Players You've Got to Know

5 Famous Violin Players You’ve Got to Know

Inspiration Corner: 5 Famous Violin Players You've Got to Know

Are you just starting to take violin lessons? An integral part of learning how to play the violin is listening to others. Below, violin teacher Julie P. lists the top five violinists every beginner student should know and listen to…

There are literally hundreds of famous violin players from all over the world. In addition to the number of well-known classical violinists, such as Fritz Kreisler and Pablo de Sarasate, there are also many great bluegrass and jazz violinists. Choosing just a few violinists to listen to can be a daunting task as there are so many genres to choose from. I suggest starting out with the five famous violin players below:

1. Itzhak Perlman (1945 – present )

One of the most famous violin players of all time, Israeli-American Itzhak Perlman has had an incredible recording and performing career. Since the 1960s he has toured extensively, playing with all of the greatest orchestras and conductors around the world. He’s also played at the inauguration of President Obama in 2009, and has appeared on many popular television shows including, Sesame Street, The Tonight Show, and The Ed Sullivan Show.

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Perlman is featured on over 150 records, most of which are of the classical idiom. However, he’s also featured on some jazz, folk, and Klezmer albums, as well as on movie soundtracks such as Schindler’s List and Memoirs of a Geisha. Below are some videos of Perlman’s most notable performances.

Here, Perlman beautifully plays the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D Minor.

More to check out:

  • Perlman plays “Misty” with jazz great Oscar Peterson from the album “Side By Side.”
  • Perlman plays Klezmer music with four fantastic groups.

2. Mark O’Connor (1961- present )

Mark O’Connor is known for being a genre-crossing violinist. He is respected greatly for both his classical and bluegrass playing, as well as for his jazz and country playing. He has won two Grammys, seven CMA awards, and seven fiddling championships. What’s more, he’s also bagged championships in guitar and mandolin. His solo recordings are wildly popular, with over two million copies sold.

If that wasn’t enough, O’Connor is also a wonderful composer. His popular “Fiddle Concerto” combines the classical concerto form with the American fiddle style. Listen to some of Mark O’Connor’s work below:

Here, O’Connor and the American Music Shop Band band push the tempo past what you think is possible.

More to check out:

 3. Jascha Heifetz (1901-1987)

Jascha Heifetz is considered to be one of the greatest, most famous violin players of all time. Before his death, he was praised for his exacting technique, as well as for his beautiful tone and style, all of which has had a great influence on the modern violin style.

His recording career was extensive and the hundreds of recordings he made cover the bulk of the standard classical violin repertoire. If you want to hear exquisitely played music with great depth of musicality, listen to Jascha Heifetz. Enjoy the sounds of Jascha Heifetz in the videos below:

Here, Heifetz’s performance of Paganinni’s Caprice No. 24 is technically inspiring.

More to check out:

 4. Stephane Grappelli (1908-1997)

A giant in the jazz violin world, Stephane Grappelli is a violinist everyone should know. The French native founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France, one of the first and most influential continental jazz groups, with guitarist Django Reinhardt.

Over his 60 plus year recording career, Grappelli recorded with hundreds of the greatest jazz, classical, and folk artists. His talents earned him the honor of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as a spot in the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame. Check out his music below:

Here, Grappelli is playing Blue Moon.

More to check out:

 5. Hilary Hahn (1979 – present)

Classical soloist and chamber musician, Hilary Hahn made her orchestral debut at the age of 12. She began her recording career when she was 16 and since then has recorded 16 albums, three of which have earned her Grammy awards. She is a much sought-after soloist, performing with groups such as the New York Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra.

Hahn is also a proponent of new music, and for her album entitled “In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores” she commissioned 26 composers to write short works for her. Listen to her talents below:

Here, Hahn plays Mendelssohn’s Concerto in E minor.

More to check out:

These are just five of the many famous violin players you’ve got to know. If any of these violinists are particularly interesting to you, check out more of their recordings, or find other violinists who play in a similar style. If you’d like to learn to play violin like one of these great players, find a great violin teacher who can help get you there!


JuliePJulie P. teaches flute, clarinet, music theory, and saxophone lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and her Masters in Music Performance from New Jersey City University. Learn more about Julie here!



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