This violin star will now play sitting down

This violin star will now play sitting down


norman lebrecht

October 19, 2021

The Chicago violinist Rachel Barton Pine suffered severe damage to her legs when she was 20 in a commuter train accident.

She has persisted heroically with a full soloist’s career in a standing position.

Today, however, Rachel has let us know that that she will perform seated ‘for the foreseeable future, as her medical team has advised that she will be non-ambulatory for at least the next few years.’

‘These are medical setbacks; my ability to fulfill my life’s purpose as an artist remains unaffected. I’m sharing this information so the focus will stay on my music-making,’ says Pine.

photo (c) Lisa-Marie Mazzucco


  • Steven Larsen says:

    Rachel is truly a profile in courage and determination, a shining example to anyone who has faced physical challenges. My admiration and respect know no bounds.
    As lame as the saying may be, I sincerely wish Rachel “all the best”, because she has earned it through her hard work and determination.

  • Augustine says:

    I saw Rachael Barton Pine perform with the Madison Symphony Orchestra in Madison, WI in 2018. She performed sitting down at that time. She was also assisted by her husband who helped her move from a wheelchair to a less confining chair. Superb violinist.

  • Larry says:

    A wonderful artist and a very brave young woman.

  • Christopher Purdy says:

    She played here in Columbus Ohio two weeks ago, an all Bach program with Jory Vinikour. They were both sensational!

  • Kyle Wiedmeyer says:

    I could’ve sworn that she already played sitting down…

  • John Borstlap says:

    Heroic. And indeed it does not make any difference for the music.

  • Althea Talbot-Howard says:

    Rachel, if you’re reading this, I was thinking of you this very morning! It was such a pleasure to meet you, all those years ago in St. Louis, performing African art music with wonderful colleagues.

    Lots of love to you and your family, as you continue to make music, and live life to the full.

  • DG says:

    Holy cow, I just read her Wikipedia page for background. I’ve admired her playing since hearing her regularly on SiriusXM’s classical channel, and I had no idea what she had to overcome. Playing a string instrument at a high level is so physically taxing to begin with, I’m amazed what she’s been able to accomplish after being literally run over by a train. Amazing and inspiring.

  • Lindsay Groves says:

    Rachel’s playing is as free, lyrical, and imaginative as a bird, no matter what position she happens to be in!

  • Phil Greenfield says:

    God bless her. Her playing comes from deep within and it is beautiful.

  • Jack says:

    Playing seated never affected the career of Mr. Perlman.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    I can’t help but surmise that something more serious than her already compromised situation is going on here with the references to “medical team,” “non-ambulatory” and “at least the next three years.” Those phrases have a bleak tone.

    Having to sit down while playing is the least of the issues. Ordinary travel — cabs, hotels, airports, the day to day situation for a touring soloist — is likely even bigger. In some older halls even navigating from green room to the wings to the stage is a maze of stairs and awkward, tight passages.

    Perlman has been tireless in pointing out the challenges that just ordinary building design creates, much less the bizarre design of some old halls. And he has the economic means to assist him with the challenges that others may not have.