Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
May 24
Can You Guess?
hel has an interest that some would find very much the opposite of what a violinist should enjoy.  Can You Guess what it is Rachel enjoys?

Go to the Bottom of the Page for the Answer!
What Else
Rachel Barton Pine, a remarkable young violinist, released her debut album Homage to Pablo De Sarasate on May 24, 1994.

Rachel was born October 11, 1974 in Chicago, IL.  She was drawn to the violin very early.  At age 3 she heard a group of "older girls in beautiful dresses" play violin at church.  She was so struck by the beauty of it all that she immediately asked her parents if she could take up the instrument.
1803 - Premiere of Ludwig van Beethoven's Violin Sonata No. 9 Kreutzer Sonata, violinist George Bridgetower and Beethoven at the piano.

1810 - Premiere of Beethoven's Egmont Overture at the Hofburg Theater in Vienna.

1820 - Birth of American hymn composer Francis Jane Fanny Crosby in Putnam County.

1911 - Premiere of Sir Edward Elgar's Second Symphony. Elgar conducted.

1918 - Premiere of Bela Bartók's opera Bluebeard's Castle at the Budapest Opera.

1941 - Robert  Zimmerman, singer / songwriter, was born. Took the name Bob Dylan. Hits include Blowin' in Wind, The Times They Are A-Changin', Mr. Tambourine Man, Like A Rolling Stone,  and Knockin' On Heaven's Door)

1948 - Premiere of Benjamin Britten's orchestration of John Gay's The Beggar's Opera in Cambridge, England.

1974 - Death of American composer Edward Kennedy 'Duke' Ellington in NYC at age 73.

1996 - Jacob Druckman , US composer, died at age 67, in New Haven, CT.

1999 - David Bowie wrote and recorded the song What's Really Happening during a live Webcast. The song appeared on the album Hours.
Barton Pine
Rachel got both the violin and the beautiful dress.  Her family was rather poor, so Rachel began playing on a rented violin.  Her parents believed that it was possible that violin would be a short term interest, and that she would set the instrument aside before she entered kindergarten.  Instead, at age 5 Rachel was signing her name "Rachel Violinist."  She says that by then she knew that the violin was what her life would be about.
Did You Guess?
Rachel is a fan of heavy metal rock music!  Her album Storming the Citadel has classical takes on songs by Black Sabbath, Metallica, Soundgarden, and Nirvana.
Recital at Age 4. Look at that Smile!
Click the Picture to go to
Rachel Barton Pine's Web Site
When she was 10, Rachel made her solo debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  Due to her heavy practice schedule (8 hours per day) she was home schooled.

While she was still a teenager her father faced difficulties at work.  Rachel became the family's main income producer.

"I put on a lot of makeup and pretended I was older than I was.  I was responsible for the mortgage, the utilities, the groceries, and there was so much pressure, growing up like that. ... When I was 17 or 18, even if I had gotten a full scholarship, I certainly wouldn't have been able to be in school and continue to work enough to ... support the family."

This would be difficult enough for an adult, for a teenager it is remarkable!

For Rachel, hard work bred success,  In 1992 Rachel won a gold medal at the J.S. Bach International Competition--the first American to achieve that!  She showed her mastery of Paganini's music at both the 1992 Szigeti International Violin Competition and the 1993 Paganini International Violin Competition.  Besides other international awards, Rachel (who describes herself as a fiercly patriotic Chicagoan) was named Best Classical Entertainer at the Chicago Music Awards and a “Chicagoan of the Year” by the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Magazine.

Following an injury in 1995, Rachel spent some time away from her heavy travel schedule, but never abandoned her work on the violin.  During rehabilitation she even played the Star Spangled Banner at two Chicago Bulls games as well as the Democratic National Convention.

Besides her recording and concertizing, Rachel is very interested in helping young violinists.  Her Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation helps young violinists by means of scholarships and instrument loans as well as compiling The String Students Library of Music by Black Composers.

Rachel regularly interacts with students.  Speaking in schools, master classes, and even teaching at Mark O'Connor's fiddle camps and Mark Wood's Rock Orchestra Camp allows her to keep in touch with those in whose hands the future of the violin truly rests. And if all that is too boring for you, she also plays in a heavy metal band.

Visit her web site at and click on the album covers below to hear some of this lady's playing.  I'm certain you will be impressed, and if you want to see an example of outstanding technique, look at the video at the bottom of this page.

By the way, Rachel will be our artist of the month for October, so there will be a more extensive article available then! 
Pictures Courtesy of Rachel Barton Pine's official web site
Instrument of the Devil
Instrument of the Devil
Instrument of the Devil
Instrument of the Devil
Instrument of the Devil
Some of Rachel Barton Pine's Recordings
Click Each Cover to See More Information
Violin Mug-August Read Thomas Quote
Click Here for sheet music by Pablo de Sarasate from
Mug Celebrating New Music and Old with a Quote by composer Augusta Read Thomas
who is our featured artist for
August 7
Click Here to go to a page featuring Rachel Barton on a broadcast of St. Paul Sunday where she plays a piece written for the occasion by Augusta Read Thomas!
Peace in Playing
Peace in Playing Art Print
Haenraets, Willem
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