As a kid I asked myself, which instrument would my future husband play?

As a kid I asked myself, which instrument would my future husband play?


norman lebrecht

April 24, 2016

The latest episode of Zsolt Bognar’s Living the Classical Life features the effervescent, candid and irrepressible Chicago violinist, Rachel Barton Pine.

She was playing in the Civic Orchestra at 11 and concertmaster at 14. ‘I was told to leave that off when I went to competitions in Europe,’ she laughs, ‘but conductors say to me, “hey I can follow you so easily”.

She had no thought in life other than being a musician, and marrying one. But she ended up marrying a non-musician, a computer specialist who travels everywhere with her and their child, moving home from one hotel room to the next.

It wasn’t always like that. ‘Because my father was unemployed for much of my childhood… Our phone and electricity were being turned off all the time, we’d be one missed payment from losing the roof over our heads…’

Experience Rachel’s joie-de-vivre:


  • Janis says:

    Still my fave of the tier-1 virtuosos.

  • Milka says:

    Dreary bottom of the barrel stuff…another bad violin day ?

    • Zsolt Bognar says:

      If you watch the complete episode, you will find beautiful stories she shares about her life and work, and gives hopeful and inspiring advice to aspiring performers on practicing tips, overcoming adversity and motivational slumps, as well as stage psychology. We hope you will like it.

      • Milka says:

        In taking your advice we watched this more than once …as with most interviews
        it reeks of self serving ,fell good banality. So artfully earnest on your part that one would be quite heartless not to laugh.

    • Jutta Ittner says:

      What a dreary, bottom-of-the-barrel comment. My advice, Milka: On a bad day, listen to Rachel. There’s no better anti-depressant.

  • Zsolt Bognar says:

    Thank you so much for posting this, Norman–Rachel Barton Pine is effervescent and inspiring, especially in her messages of hope and overcoming adversity, overcoming motivational slumps and practice techniques really reveal her sparkling personality and music-making. We were so grateful to feature her as a guest on our show!

  • Mark Henriksen says:

    Excellent! Every young musician should hear her performance and practice advice.

    • Zsolt Bognar says:

      So so happy you enjoyed it! So much work went into this one, and we found Ms. Pine to be enchanting.

  • Donald Wright says:

    I found Ms. Pine’s positive attitude and her having learned from childhood adversity to be inspiring. Her observations that nervousness comes from making a performance about *you* rather than about the music, and that you have to enjoy what you’re playing in order for the audience to do so too, were especially valuable.