The violinist Hilary Hahn speaks to Charlotte Gardner about her encore choices

Hilary Hahn Encores

Photo: Robert Torres Photography / Celebrity Series of Boston
Violinist Hilary Hahn and pianist Cory Smythe perform works from Hahn’s In 27 Pieces encore project for Celebrity Series of Boston at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall in March 2013

The following extract is from The Strad’s May issue feature on soloists’ changing approach to encores. To read it in full, click here to subscribe and login. The May 2021 digital magazine and print edition are on sale now

‘I tend to play the encores I commissioned for my 2013 project In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores,’ says violinist Hilary Hahn, ‘because you have a responsibility to continue to perform works you’ve commissioned if possible. But I grew up with and love the old favourites, and you definitely see the audience exhale when they hear something that they know and love. They’re also a little window into that time, musically, because they were written by or for specific players and for a specific purpose. These days, people are playing more of a variety of works from different eras. But a renewal of the old repertoire is also happening, which I’m really glad about, as this carries on the tradition of Kreisler and his contemporaries. So, it’s good to have the combination.’


Read Encores: Time to shine

Read ‘There’s a music-making knob that turns off during difficult passages’ – Joshua Bell

Read The subversive power of the encore according to violinist Pekka Kuusisto

Read How I warm up: Hilary Hahn


Whatever the repertoire, everyone agrees on what an encore needs to do on an emotional level. ‘I think there’s a feeling that you expect out of an encore, especially after a long programme,’ comments Hahn. ‘It’s a treat and a surprise, and you can relate emotionally to that feeling even if the piece is unfamiliar, which is why it’s possible for the encore to be the crowd favourite even if the audience hasn’t heard it before.’