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Kim Kashkashian

Kim Kashkashian

An American violist
Kim Kashkashian
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro An American violist
Is Musician Music educator Professor Educator Violist Violinist
From United States of America
Type Academia Music
Gender female
Birth 31 August 1952, Detroit, USA
Age 68 years
Star sign Virgo
Classical music
The details


Kim Kashkashian (born August 31, 1952) is an American violist. She is recognized as one of the world's top violists. She has spent her career in the US and Europe and collaborated with many major contemporary composers. In 2013 she won a Grammy Award for Best Classical Instrumental Solo.

Early life and education

Kashkashian was born to Armenian-American parents on August 31, 1952 in Detroit, Michigan. She grew up in Detroit in what Mark Slobin has described as an "only modestly Armenian household." Her father had a baritone voice and sang Armenian folk songs, which influenced her. She began playing the violin at the age of eight. She first studied with Ara Zerounian, then continued her music education and switched to viola at the Interlochen Arts Academy beginning from the age 12. She studied at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore with Walter Trampler (1969–79) and Karen Tuttle (1970–75). She received her Bachelor of Music (B.M.) degree from the Peabody Conservatory and her Master of Music (M.M.) degree from the New School of Music, Philadelphia. She was also the mentee of Felix Galimir.

Teaching career

Kashkashian has been a faculty member at several institutions. In 1981–86 she taught at the New School of Music, Philadelphia, in 1983–86 at the Mannes School of Music in New York, in 1985–87 the Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington. She then moved to Germany, where she began teaching at the Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg im Breisgau in 1989 and the Hanns Eisler Hochschule für Musik in Berlin.

She returned to the United States in 2000 and began teaching viola and chamber music at New England Conservatory in Boston in fall 2000.


Throughout her career, Kashkashian has recorded many discs both as a solo and chamber music artist. She has been described as a "staunch proponent" of contemporary classical music. She has collaborated with and commissioned works from Gidon Kremer, Yo-Yo Ma, Robert Levin, Felix Galimir, and the Guarneri String Quartet, György Kurtág, Krzysztof Penderecki, Alfred Schnittke, Giya Kancheli, Arvo Pärt, Peter Eötvös, Ken Ueno, Thomas Larcher, Lera Auerbach, Tigran Mansurian.

She has collaborated with ECM Records since 1985.

Kashkashian has performed at the Metropolitan Museum of New York, Kaufmann Hall, New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall; other cities in the US, Europe and Japan. She regularly participates in the Ravina, Verbier Salzburg, Lockenhaus and Marlboro festivals.

Personal life

Kashkashian has one daughter. She practices Chinese martial arts (kung fu), including Tai chi. Her most favorite musician of all time is Maria Callas, while her favorite composers include Schubert, Bach, and György Kurtág. She described Kurtág as "present-day Bach." She has named the Schubert trios and any of Bach's works as her favorite musical work.

In a 2013 interview with Hollywood.com, Kashkashian stated that she is constantly confused with reality television personality Kim Kardashian due to their similarly spelled surnames.

Kashkashian is one of the founders and (as of 2016) the Artistic Director of Music for Food, an initiative aimed at fighting hunger.


Kashkashian is widely recognized as one of the world's top violists. BBC Music Magazine worte in 1997 that she is one of the "most sought-after violists for chamber music in America." NPR's All Things Considered noted in 2007 that she is "one of only a few violists with an international solo career." The New England Conservatory of Music website describes her as "internationally recognized as a unique voice on the viola." ECM Records noted that she is "one of the pre-eminent artists of ECM New Series." The American Academy of Arts and Sciences described her as a "world renowned musician who has caused the repertoire for the viola to be greatly enlarged" through her many collaborations.

Honors and accolades

  • Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition 2nd prize, 1980
  • ARD International Music Competition, 3rd prize, 1980
  • Edison Prize, 1999 (recording of the Brahms Sonatas with Robert Levin)
  • Cannes Classical Award, 2001 for a premiere recording by soloist with orchestra (June 2000 recording of concertos by Bartók, Eötvös and Kurtág)
  • George Peabody Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Music in America, 2013
  • Elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2016
Grammy Award

Kashkashian has received three nominations and has won one Grammy Award.

Year Award Recording Result
1989 Best Chamber Music Performance Hindemith: Viola Sonatas (Album) Nominated
1999 Best Chamber Music Performance Brahms: Sonatas For Viola And Piano Nos. 1 And 2 (Album) Nominated
2005 Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with orchestra) Mansurian: "...And Then I Was In Time Again" Nominated
2013 Best Classical Instrumental Solo Kurtág & Ligeti: Music For Viola Won


A partial list of her recordings includes:

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 20 Mar 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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