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Discovering the Violin’s Emotional Vocabulary

Nineteen-year-old Matthew Hakkarainen
Nineteen-year-old Matthew Hakkarainen is a senior competitor in Menuhin Competition Richmond 2021. In 2018, he became the first American to win first prize in Italy’s Lipizer International Violin Competition. (Photo courtesy of Matthew Hakkarainen.)  



“There are so many more emotions that can be expressed through music than I could ever hope to achieve with my words, and for me, just the ultimate goal whenever I have a performance is to just get that message across.”

Matthew Hakkarainen began playing violin when he was three years old, and was introduced to the instrument by his mother. As a child learning violin, he sometimes found it difficult to summon the dedication and concentration needed to master the instrument. Ultimately, he recognized how focused and organized he needed to be in order to learn his chosen instrument.   

“It took a lot of discipline and also a lot of support from my parents and my first teachers. I'm so thankful they stuck with it,” said Hakkarainen. “And even when I would get upset, stomp off and didn't want to practice, they were always there for me.” 

While his schedule at the Curtis Institute of Music can be extremely hectic, Hakkarainen says one of the biggest lessons he’s learned is to take time away to explore art and literature and interact with people to gain “a multitude of experiences that you can convey when you’re performing.”

“Music is more than just what you do in a practice room,” said Hakkarainen. “It's also everything else that you have the chance to explore outside as well that you can then bring in.”

Matthew Hakkarainen is a competitor in Menuhin Competition Richmond 2021.

Credits: Matthew Hakkarainen’s interview and performance was recorded at Baer Sound Studios in Philadelphia. The episode was produced by Sarah Schilling, managing producer Peter Solomon and executive producer Catherine Komp. If you liked what you heard, please rate and review Making Menuhin in your favorite podcast player.