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Violinist Emil Altschuler in Conversation with M4Arts

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

Please join us Friday, August 28th for a livestream concert performed by violinist Emil Altschuler. Sign up here.

Acclaimed violinist, Emil Altschuler, is a master of his instrument who performs with incredible technique, magnificent expression and a profound artistry across a wide-ranging repertoire. The Boston Globe writes “top notch” of Altschuler’s performance. The Strad praises “Passion and portamento from a young American violinist”, and The Whole Note writes “There’s a decidedly old-style feel to…very reminiscent of Heifetz.” Erick Friedman, master violinist and protégé of the legendary Jascha Heifetz, wrote “…a truly outstanding violinist of his generation…and sound and accuracy of intonation that are truly extraordinary.”

What is your favorite thing about playing Bach?

Bach is for me like those choose-your-own-adventure stories where there are many different paths you can take. Each time that I play Bach or revisit a piece — it’s a bit like playing it for the first time, no matter how well I know it (or I think I know it), and it always kind of reveals similar things and new things which are quite beautiful and interesting — they deepen in meaning over time. I guess that’s one of the other great things about Bach is that he’s timeless in the sense that you can play Bach when you’re young when you’re old. That goes for different interpreters — you can take a piece by Bach and listen to ten different people play it and they can all be very different and unique in their interpretations. So I definitely feel that Bach is perhaps one of the most universal composers in that it’s both anonymous and at the same time very poignant and personal. Everybody has a very personal feeling about Bach.

What do you miss about live in-person performance?

I think the nice thing about in-person performance is one — I do miss being with others on stage. That human contact and communication, I don’t think we can replace that yet. The other thing that happens is you prepare yourself to a point where you can walk on stage and perform an entire recital or concerto - in that sense the pressure of the performance, as they say, pressure makes diamonds. So I think that added component of pressure, excitement — that upcoming deadline and the public together can create a great performance.”

If you could play any chamber piece or large symphonic work, what would it be?

For me that would be chamber music right now — Brahms sextet and Verklärte Nacht by Schoenberg, and then I would love Souvenir de Florence by Tchaikovsky — of course the Mendelssohn octet always comes to mind. Those are all big scale chamber pieces — so yes I love large scale chamber music works. Piano quartets, quintets — those would be fabulous to get back playing with colleagues and friends.

What have you learned about yourself as a musician in 2020?

I think it’s kind of synonymous with what I’ve learned about myself as a person in 2020, because I think life and music are inextricably linked. I think I’ve become more self-aware as a person, being able to reflect a little more has enabled me to know myself better and also therefore knowing what I want to express musically, better. I think that’s one of the special gifts that have come out of this period — the opportunity to be with my family more, get to know myself better. Hopefully that will transpire in my performances, and I’ll have richer performances for that.


Mr. Altschuler received his Bachelor of Music from The Juilliard School where he studied with Dorothy DeLay and Naoko Tanaka, and his Masters of Music from The Yale School of Music, studying under Erick Friedman.

His brilliant technique and vigorous performances received energetic ovations in venues such as Lincoln Center, San Francisco’s Helen Von Ammon’s Emerging Artist Series, The Aspen Music Festival, and Italy’s Castello di Galeazza. As a featured soloist, he has appeared with the Aspen Young Artist’s Orchestra, the Binghamton Philharmonic, Binghamton University Chamber Orchestra, the Parkway Concert Orchestra and the Harvard Summer School Orchestra. This season, he will perform ‘Tzigane’ by Ravel with the Lincoln-Sudbury Civic Orchestra

Mr. Altschuler maintains an active career as a soloist, chamber musician and performs in recitals with pianists Thomas Pandolfi and Alice Xu, reviving the old-style virtuoso program that helped popularize Paganini, Kreisler and Heifetz including concerti, showpieces, transcriptions and sonatas. His programs are varied and entertaining showing the brilliance, versatility and popularity of the instrument. He also champions contemporary music by Karel Husa, Martin Boykan and has collaborated on the Tufts Composers and Faculty concerts. This season, he is selected to perform a Mental Health Awareness Concert on the Tufts Performance Faculty Recital Series featuring music by Prof. Eberhard Klemmstein’s (director of the Music Institute, Erlangen) ‘Violin Sonata No.3’ and Prof. John McDonald’s response to it called ‘Old-School Material’. He has also collaborated with Belgian guitarist and string faculty at New England Conservatory, Jérôme Mouffe, in the AM Duo interpreting Spanish, Tango, and contemporary works alongside classical masterpieces.

Extensively involved in music education, he has served as Head of Strings for the Festival Youth Orchestra and as chamber music coach at the School of Continuing Education and Preparatory School. He is also an instructor at Community Music at Tufts University as well as violin coach for the Tufts Youth Philharmonic. His most recent teaching engagement was as an instructor at Northeastern University. Last summer, he joined the artist faculty at InterHarmony in Bavaria, where he performed the Beethoven Concerto with pianist, Dr. Chenny Gan. Next summer, he plans to launch an international summer festival based on the Jascha Heifetz legacy, in Italy.

One of his students became the youngest violinist ever accepted into the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra under Benjamin Zander and was invited to appear on NPR’s From the Top with host Christopher O’Riley. Others have been accepted into Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras and have won concertmaster and principal 2nd positions at the Tufts Youth Philharmonic and have been accepted to the Heifetz Symposium.

His debut album “Emil Altschuler – Violin”, was arranged with his brother Josiah Altschuler, with a gypsy jazz style guitar accompaniment. He is also a featured artist on Josiah Altschuler’s debut album ‘Murder Ballads and Love Songs for Cello and Voice.’ Mr.Altschuler also recorded “Diablo y Tango” with guitar, which included works by de Falla and Piazzolla, and he was selected by renowned author and violin pedagogue Janice Tucker Rhoda to record ‘The ABCs of Violin for the Absolute Beginner’ Books 1 and 3, published by Carl Fischer Music.

Mr. Altschuler’s latest live recording with Thomas Pandolfi was featured on NPR from the Honest Brook Music Festival. He also recently recorded a contemporary unaccompanied Partita by Christopher Marinuzzi and an album with pianist Keunyoung Sun, including Falla, Ravel, Albeniz, Poulenc, Bartok featuring brilliant works for violin & piano. This recording has been featured on NPR, HJCK in Bogotá, Colombia and broadcast on MDR KLASSIK in Halle, Germany.

Please join us Friday, August 28th for a livestream concert performed by violinist Emil Altschuler. The concert will be streamed live on Facebook, and tickets to watch are only $2.99. Register for the event here.

Miss a class? No problem! You can access past masterclasses and series here. Learn more about the M Institute for the Arts and artists here.

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