Winner of the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 1967, violinist Philippe Hirschhorn tackles the fiendishly difficult ‘Sauret’ cadenza for Paganini’s Violin Concerto no.1. 

The video has received visual and audio restoration from Daniel Kurganov. In the video notes, Kurganov says:

’Look at how low his right arm is, especially when acquiring the G string. Made even more extreme by the fact that his instrument is very flat on his shoulder. I think he’s the most extreme of anyone I’ve seen in that regard. Notice how his hand/fingers “sink” into the string as a result of this right arm anticipation.

’Is he tense or is he loose? Of course he’s loose, otherwise, you wouldn’t hear what you hear. But, look at how immovable his violin appears. On first glance you might think he’s tense and gripping the violin for dear life. After all, there isn’t much in the way of ”organic swaying” up/down/sideways with the instrument. The violin is sitting on an immovable cloud, and then hands are dancing around it in perfect harmony. You can see the result of an absolute obsession with the fundamentals of technique. Putting everything in its place without force.’

Hirschhorn was born in Riga in 1946, where he studied with Waldemar Sturestep, going on to study with Michael Waiman at the Conservatoire of St. Petersburg. Following his victory at the 1967 Queen Elisabeth Competition, he enjoyed a solo career, performing worldwide with orchestras and conductors, including Herbert von Karajan and Eugene Ormandy. 

He taught many violinists who went on to enjoy successful performance careers, including Philippe Graffin and Janine Jansen. Hirschhorn died in 1996 in Brussels.