Biography

Gil Shaham is one of the foremost violinists of our time: his flawless technique combined with his inimitable warmth and generosity of spirit has solidified his renown as an American master. The Grammy Award-winner, also named Musical America’s “Instrumentalist of the Year,” is sought after throughout the world for concerto appearances with leading orchestras and conductors, and regularly gives recitals and appears with ensembles on the world’s great concert stages and at the most prestigious festivals.

Shaham headlines a Parisian-themed opening-night gala with the Seattle Symphony this fall, launching a new season that sees him rejoin the San Francisco Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas for Mozart’s “Turkish” concerto, and, on the orchestra’s 20th-anniversary tour, for Prokofiev’s Second at venues including Carnegie Hall. The Prokofiev also serves as the vehicle for his collaboration with The Knights at the Caramoor Fall Festival, and is one of the works showcased in his long-term exploration of “Violin Concertos of the 1930s.” Now entering its sixth season, this project takes him back to the Philadelphia Orchestra for Berg’s concerto, and to both the Berlin Radio Symphony and the London Symphony Orchestra for Britten. Besides giving the world premiere performances of a new concerto by David Bruce with the San Diego Symphony, the violinist’s upcoming orchestral highlights also include Mendelssohn in Tokyo, Canada, and Luxembourg, and two Bach concertos with the Dallas Symphony. In recital, he presents Bach’s complete solo sonatas and partitas at Chicago’s Symphony Center, L.A.’s Disney Hall, and other venues in a special multimedia collaboration with photographer and video artist David Michalek.

Last season saw the release of 1930s Violin Concertos (Vol. 1), the first double album to be yielded by Shaham’s long-term programming project, which was recorded live with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, BBC Symphony, Staatskapelle Dresden, and Sejong. In live performance, he played 1930s concertos by Bartók, Prokofiev, Barber, Berg, and Britten with such eminent ensembles as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Berlin Radio Symphony, Bavarian Radio Symphony, and Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the USA, which he joined as guest soloist on its inaugural national tour. Among his other orchestral collaborations, Shaham reprised Korngold’s concerto, of which he has long been recognized as one of the foremost exponents, with the Vienna Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall and with orchestras including the National Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, and France’s Orchestre de Paris, as well as giving the world, Asian, and European premieres of a new concerto by Bright Sheng. Shaham also gave his signature recitals of unaccompanied Bach in Baltimore, Cleveland, and on tour in Italy.

Gil Shaham already has more than two dozen concerto and solo CDs to his name, including bestsellers that have ascended the record charts in the U.S. and abroad. These recordings have earned prestigious awards, including multiple Grammys, a Grand Prix du Disque, Diapason d’Or, and Gramophone Editor’s Choice. His recent recordings are issued on the Canary Classics label, which he founded in 2004. They comprise Haydn Violin Concertos and Mendelssohn’s Octet with the Sejong Soloists; Sarasate: Virtuoso Violin Works with Adele Anthony, Akira Eguchi, and Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León; Elgar’s Violin Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and David Zinman; The Butterfly Lovers and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with the Singapore Symphony; Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in A with Yefim Bronfman and cellist Truls Mork; The Prokofiev Album and Mozart in Paris, both with his sister, pianist Orli Shaham; The Fauré Album with Akira Eguchi and cellist Brinton Smith; and Nigunim: Hebrew Melodies, also recorded with Orli Shaham, which features the world premiere recording of a sonata written for the violinist by Avner Dorman. Upcoming titles include Bach’s complete works for solo violin.

Shaham was born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, in 1971. He moved with his parents to Israel, where he began violin studies with Samuel Bernstein of the Rubin Academy of Music at the age of seven, receiving annual scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. In 1981, while studying with Haim Taub in Jerusalem, he made debuts with the Jerusalem Symphony and the Israel Philharmonic. That same year he began his studies with Dorothy DeLay and Jens Ellermann at Aspen. In 1982, after taking first prize in Israel’s Claremont Competition, he became a scholarship student at Juilliard, where he worked with DeLay and Hyo Kang. He also studied at Columbia University.

Gil Shaham was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 1990, and in 2008 he received the coveted Avery Fisher Prize. In 2012, he was named “Instrumentalist of the Year” by Musical America, which cited the “special kind of humanism” with which his performances are imbued. He plays the 1699 “Countess Polignac” Stradivarius, and lives in New York City with his wife, violinist Adele Anthony, and their three children.