Bach Project - Hilary Hahn


Hilary Hahn



I always felt an affinity with Bach’s solo violin music.   
A lot of people forget, I think, that Bach was so active as a violinist
and he got his first job as a violinist.



Bach, I find, to be a very progressive composer,
an active proponent of innovation.  
His use of chromaticism
and his invention of line within harmony
is really very imaginative
and I wonder how it was perceived in his time.
I think actually he was quite out there.  
He was experimenting very much like someone like Schoenberg.  
Most people think of Schoenberg as an academic composer,
as a method composer, but I don't think
either of them intended to be methodical.
I think they were writing what they felt
and I think they were giving themselves structures
so that they would be even freer to write.
And the pure emotional nature
of both of their music is often quite overlooked.



Sometimes the most mathematical seeming music
is actually the most liberating to play
because you have certain structures set out for you,
you have the ground work all clearly laid,
and then you really have to be creative,
you really have to invent something in your interpretation.



I think technically Bach is definitely a touchstone
because you can’t get away with faking it.  
You really have to do it all the way.
I have to phrase each voice separately.  
One line that’s not affective
or not integral to the interpretation
can really skew everything in the listener’s ear,
so it’s tricky. But I have to think about these lines
sort of converging and weaving in and out.  
It gives me a chance to dive beneath
and really find the core elements that appeal to me
so that I can work with that and make it something
very personal for me and hopefully something
very personal for the audience as well.
I really feel that my job is to interpret it and pass it on.  
And I feel that back from them. When it’s being received well
I do feel that and it’s a wonderful sort of reciprocal feeling
and it is magical.  It’s very meditative, actually,
to play Bach to a crowd that’s really listening.


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