Who Is the Best Violinist in the World in 2021 (Ranked)

Violinists are some of the most talented, overachieving musical geniuses out there today. There are undoubtedly a lot of extraordinary violin players that we won’t get to hear, but here we have compiled a list of the artists we know to have made a huge impact on the music industry.

Nicolo Paganini

Nicolo Paganini is at the top of the list for being one of the benchmarks artists for his violin technique. Born back in 1782 Nicolo was from Genoa and first started out playing the mandolin which he learned from his father. He then moved onto the violin at the young age of 7 and started out his classical music career. His outstanding talent on the strings was discovered by his teachers as his skills quickly surpassed those of even the most experienced mentor.

One of the biggest claims to fame Nicolo has is that he played for Napoleon’s sister but he actually wasn’t very well known until his world debut at La Scala in 1813. After this he would go on to be honored by Pope Leo XII. Nowadays we revere him as establishing the violin as a solo instrument instead of being part of a strings section in an orchestra.

Listen to his work below.

Joseph Joachim

Joseph Joachim was born into what was once known as the Kingdom of Hungary back in 1831. Shortly after his family decided to make the move to Budapest where he began to learn to play the violin at the ripe age of five. He learned from his teacher Stanislaw Serwaczynski who was widely believed to be the best violinist in the region at that time. After showing a lot of talent and huge amounts of promise the Vienna Conservatory took an interest in Joseph and quickly accepted them into their program. Thereafter he was taught by the well known violinist Joseph Bohm.

At just twelve years of age, Joseph debuted his talents in London as part of the Philharmonic Society and being conducted by Felix Mendelssohn. Eventually, he would go on to be paid his wages, and a fair amount of them, by King Georg of Hanover himself in return for conducting and playing in state concerts.

Listen to his work below.

Pablo de Sarasate

Pablo de Sarasate was the son of an Artillery bandmaster so it was always in his blood to be a world-renowned violinist. His story goes that the very first time he ever picked up his father’s violin he was immediately able to play a passage of classical music on it perfectly. After more time and some music lessons, Pablo was admitted into the royal court of Madrid to further develop his career as a musician. At only twelve years old he was sent to study in France at the prestigious Paris Conservatoire.

As the years passed Pablo soon became one of Europe’s favorite late nineteenth century violinists and composers. He gained favor with other notable composers of the time including Bizet and Saint-Saens as well as being a close confidant of George Bernard Shaw.

Listen to his music below.

Eugene Ysaye

Someone who is highly regarded to be an enigmatic and legendary violinist is Belgian born Eugene Ysaye. His talent was once rumored to have stemmed from his family’s violin – an instrument of supernatural origins that had been passed from generation to generation in his family. Whatever the real story is there’s little doubt that Eugene is of the best violinists in the world as his music continues to be of interest and admiration to many young players.

Though Eugene’s playing was legendary in its own time, we owe a lot of modern violin playing techniques to him. He knew the importance of being a well-rounded musician, taking on both teacher and conductor roles before passing away in the May of 1931.

Listen to his music below.

Jascha Heifetz

Jascha Heifetz was a Lithuanian, Jewish-American violin player who moved to the USA in his teens. Having studied the violin from the age of two he had already played his instrument in most of Russia and Europe. Jascha finally decided to settle in San Francisco in 1917 where soon after he debuted his talents at Carnegie Hall. He caused a lot of commotion and uproar amongst his contemporaries for his unusual style of playing and music.

Unfortunately, in his older age, he suffered from physical ailments that stopped him from performing and playing as much as he once did. Instead, he decided to focus on teaching and various social causes.

Listen to his music below.

David Oistrakh

David Oistrakh was born in Ukraine in the year 1908 and has since been internationally revered for his incredible technique and tonality. David began to play the violin at just five years old and went on to study at the very well established Odessa Conservatory.

Living through the early days of the Soviet Union David was able to give violin concerts throughout the state including parts of Eastern Europe. Eventually, he would teach himself to play the violin and went on to win the Eugene Ysaye prize. As the Soviet Union grew David was seen to be one of the only musicians allowed to play in both the US and the UK. After his death, an asteroid was named in his honor.

Listen to his music below.

Anne-Sophie Mutter

Anne-Sophie Mutter is one of the frequent soloists you will see playing for the Berlin Philharmonic. She was first introduced to music at the age of five when she began to learn the piano. After moving on to the violin she was quickly able to establish herself as a virtuoso of the instrument, playing her first concert at 13 as part of the Berlin Philharmonic.

Since she began playing she has been one of the most sought after plyers of violinist music and played with the English Chamber Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim back in 1977. Anne was also made an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music, taking on the head position of its international violinist students. She continues to collaborate with her ex-husband on many different compositions and has won countless awards which makes her one of the best violinists of all time.

Listen to her work below.

Sarah Chang

Sarah Chang was born in South Korea in 1980. Her parents chose to immigrate to Philadelphia where they quickly became involved in the classical music scene in the area. From a very early age, Sarah was surrounded by violin players. At the incredibly young age of five, she was accepted into the Julliard School after an audition performing Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1.

When she was ten Sarah recorded her first studio album and as she grew into her teens she began to play on average 150 converts a year. She has been ranked as one of the best violinists of all time in the United States and continues to perform today.

Listen to her music below.

Itzhak Perlman

Itzhak Perlman is known as one of the oddest violin players who is loved and recognized for his music around the world. He was born in 1945 in Tel Aviv and started teaching himself the violin at a young age. He overcame his disability from Polio and catapulted to fame in 1958 when he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Ever since his meteoric rise to stardom Itzhak has been a prominent figure amongst violinists and musicians in general. He has countless awards and accolades behind him, as well as having received the Presidential Medal of Freedom back in 2016.

Listen to his music below.

Yehudi Menuhin

Yehudi Menuhin was born into a Lithuanian Jewish family in 1916 and was raised in New York. In the 20th century he is regarded as one of the top and most exciting violinists. Throughout his teenage years he played in Germany, even playing through the rise of the Nazi party. Before turning 20 he had got himself a reputation as being a master of the violin.

In 1945 after the liberation of the concentration camps he teamed up with Benjamin Britten, a composer, to perform at the camps for the survivors of the Holocaust. He also decided to branch out from purely classical music to join in a collaboration with Stephane Grappelli, a jazz violinist.

Listen to his music below.

Hilary Hahn

Hilary Hahn is celebrated as being not only one of the best but most exciting violinists of all time today. At only three years old she began to play the violin and made her musical debut when she was 16 at the Budapest Festival Orchestra. A year after this in 1996 she went on to perform a violin concerto as a soloist at the Carnegie Hall, playing with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

As well as playing with some of the top orchestras anywhere in the world, Hilary has embraced more popular music into her compositions. She has collaborated with many different experimental composers as well as singer-songwriters. Hilary has been best known for her mastery of the compositions of Bach and delivers musical performances that she allows infants to attend.

Listen to her work below.

Papa John Creach

As violinists go, Papa John Creach’s story is a strange one. He was born in 1917 in Pennsylvania and began to play the violin in a series of Chicago bars when he was only 18 years old. Working as a busker throughout these bars he learned to pick up a lot of different styles of playing, as well as being able to play classical violin. He was also an early advocate for the electric violin back in 1943.

Preach is different to other violinists in that he steered away from the classical roots and played amongst some of the blues and jazz greats, including Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong and T-Bone Walker. In the 1960s he became a well-known figure and joined up with the Jefferson Airplane band and later collaborated with Starship.

Listen to his work below.

Nigel Kennedy

Nigel Kennedy comes from an incredibly illustrious musical family and is known as one of the most diverse violinists found anywhere in the world. He ditched the traditional classical music image of his family, although he was still accepted, at the age of seven, into the Yehudi Menuhin School. He also attended the Julliard School for music.

When he was 16 he played alongside Stephane Grappelli, an infamous jazz violinist, at Carnegie Hall. He performed and recorded with the English Chamber Orchestra for their rendition of The Four Seasons which stayed at the top of the UK charts for over a year. He is best known for his diverse and experimental music as well as his pop recordings.

Listen to his work below.

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed our list of the top violinists in the world today. These are only a few of the most popular ones and of course there are many other violinists that are talented and should be included in lists like these.

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