When we think of the violin, we automatically think of a symphonic orchestra, the national conservatory, the various stringed instruments, or even traditional music. However, rarer are the times when one thinks directly of a great UK violinist, or simply becomes a violinist themselves. Because yes, the most famous figures in violin are often less known to the general public.
The violin is a musical instrument that is considered expensive, and therefore inaccessible to the general public. In reality, this statement has nuances, because according to violon.com, a good quality violin, of solid wood and varnished by hand, would cost between £140 and £350. Of course, it is still relatively expensive, which could put off some, but you never know, becoming a violinist with their bow work known and recognized, might just be worth the investment!
But exactly who are these great UK violists? This what we're going to delve into now, a little overview of the most famous violinists in the UK!
What are the roles of violinists in the UK?
Whether it's a pianist, a cellist, a saxophonist, or simply a virtuoso violinist, it's not uncommon for us to know at least one or two names of famous musicians or instrumentalists in the UK (even beyond our borders). Musical instruments are a real unifying tool for a group of people, and even for an entire country.
It is said that music soothes the soul, and that is probably true, even sometimes inspiring us to want to play the violin ourselves, to pass an international competition, or to take musical training classes. A simple and roundabout way to make us love music is through other talented humans, who make music feel more accessible, and, for some, have become public figures in their own right.
More than an example, UK violinists are truly inspiring, who make us see music and the violin in a new light, more affordable, more democratic, less elitist. A way to undo what we believed to be an untouchable instrument, with their popular music and successful albums.
Let's move on, without further ado, to a small selection of the best musical artists of this dear and beautiful location that is the UK. A showcase of UK success and music in all its beauty, let's go!
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Famous violinist: Nicola Benedetti
Born in Scotland in 1987, Nicola Benedetti is one of our greatest contemporary violinists in the UK. She started learning to play the violin at the age of 4 and at age 8 she became the leader of the National Children's Orchestra of Great Britain. Her list of childhood achievements continued, even playing onstage with the musician Prince!, and by the age of 16, she won the BBC Young Musician of the Year.
Nicola's career continues to expand and shine; she played for an audience of 9 million viewers at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, she was awarded the Queen's Medal for Music in 2017 (the youngest ever recipient), she works with other young artists through her various ambassador events... the list goes on. What will she get up to next?! A violin professional, one who is worthwhile to keep an eye on, as she can only keep getting better!
World Famous Violinist: Nigel Kennedy
Violinist and violist, Nigel Kennedy made his career early on in the classical field and has most recently branched out to jazz, klezmer and other musical genres. Kennedy was born into a musical family with his grandfather being Lauri Kennedy, a principal cellist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and his grandmother was a pianist.
A boy prodigy, he began studying music at an early age and at the age of 16 he was invited by Stephane Grappelli (a famous jazz violinist) to appear with him at New York's Carnegie Hall. He has a long list of incredible recordings that he's created and has earned a place as one of the best-selling violinists and creator of the best-selling classical recordings ever known.
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World-Renowned Violinist: Yehudi Menuhin
Born in 1916 in New York City, Yehudi Menuhin is not of British decent himself but spent most of his career performing in Britain. Yehudi is widely considered one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century and his death in 1999 was a great loss to the musical community.
During his expansive and incredible career, Yehudi established schools in his name, festivals, competitions for young violinists, performed on thousands of stages all over the world, won numerous awards including the Grammy's, created a series of books, and so much more. His recording contract with EMI lasted almost 70 years and is the longest in the history of the music industry. He made his first recording at age 13 and his last at 82 years old. What an incredible artist and incredible career!
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Top-Rated Violinist: Vanessa-Mae Nicholson
Among the great figures of UK violinists is Vanessa-Mae, a British violinist born in Singapore in 1978. She was adopted into a British family and moved to London at the age of 4 where she began practising the violin right away. An accomplished young prodigy, Vanessa-Mae became the youngest soloist to record both the Beethoven and Tchaikovsky violin concertos according to Guinness World Records.
Her album sales have reached several million copies making her the wealthiest entertainer under 30 in the UK in 2006, with an estimated fortune of about £32 million! Talented in other areas, she also competed for Thailand in alpine skiing in the 2014 Winter Olympics. Talk about a go-getter!
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UK Violinist: Andrew Manze
Born in 1965, Andrew Manze is an English conductor and violinist. He is widely celebrated as one of the most 'stimulating and inspirational conductors of his generation'. He presents boundless energy on stage and has extensive knowledge of the repertoire. He has an incredible skill as a communicator and often teaches, edits and writes about music, as well as regularly broadcasting on television and radio.
After his time at Cambridge University, Manze studied the violin and quickly became a leading specialist in historical performance practice in the world. As a violinist, Manze has released an incredible variety of CD's and many of them have won awards. Manze is also in great demand as a conductor worldwide and has long-standing relationships with a number of prestigious international orchestras.
Books on the violin will help you to live your passion thoroughly!
Young Prodigy: Chloe Hanslip
One of the youngest musical prodigies on our list, Chloe began playing the violin at the age of 2 and was already performing solos at the age of 4! When she was only 5 yrs old she was invited by Yehudi Menuhin (world-renowned violinist) to study at his school. He had said about her, "rarely have I seen such an inner serenity, sense of peace and poise." By the tender age of 10 Chloe was already playing at major international concert halls, including Carnegie Hall in New York City and the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Hanslip has received numerous awards for her talented violin skills and at the age of 13 was the youngest recording artist ever to be signed to Warner Classics UK. Her 2001 debut album was released to great critical acclaim. Time will continue to show us what this exceptional violinist can create!
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Top UK Rock Violinist: Eddie Jobson
Edwin "Eddie" Jobson, born in 1955 is an English keyboardist best known for his use of synthesizers and for being part of talented rock bands, including Curved Air, Roxy Music, UK, Scott Tixier, and the very famous band Jethro Tull. He was even part of Frank Zappa's band for a short period of time. Jobson has also gained acclaim for his violin playing, winning the Lifetime Achievement award at the 2017 Progressive Music Awards.
Throughout the 80s and 90s, Eddie also built a successful career as a composer for TV (Nash Bridges) and film soundtracks (Disney film Brother Bear), even for the world of advertising. He won the Clio Award for original music scoring in 1988 and continued to receive accolades as a winner and finalist for years afterwards.
After perusing this short snippet of incredibly talented UK violinists and musicians, it will be understood that the UK has nothing to envy when it comes to great virtuoso violinists. We have plenty on our own doorsteps, a real pool of musical talent, bravo!