Playlist TEDTalks

8 lyrical talks about the violin

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick May
Ji-Hae-Park-at-TED2013

Ji-Hae Park rocks out on the violin at TED2013. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

At age 14, violin virtuoso Ji-Hae Park was accepted to a prestigious music conservatory in Mainz, Germany – even though the school only accepted students 16 and older. By the time she was 17, a German foundation had lent Park a rare Guarneri violin to play, worth millions. But Park’s early fame took its toll.

Ji-Hae Park: The violin, and my dark night of the soulJi-Hae Park: The violin, and my dark night of the soul “The violin which once meant everything to me became a grave burden,” she says in today’s talk, given at TED2013.

Park found herself deeply depressed. And so she put down the violin, moved home to Korea and contemplated other career paths. It was her deep love of composition that brought her through this difficult time.

“In the midst of hardship, it was the music that restored my soul,” says Park. “The comfort the music gave me was indescribable … It set me free from the pressure of becoming a successful violinist.”

To hear how this experience led Park to rethink her career — and to focus as much on playing hospitals, churches and prisons as on playing vaunted concert halls – watch this moving talk. And here, more talks that incorporate the magic of the violin.

Andrew Bird: A one-man orchestra of the imaginationAndrew Bird: A one-man orchestra of the imaginationAndrew Bird’s one-man orchestra of the imagination
The incredible Andrew Bird intricately loops whistles, glockenspiel and vocals along with the violin – both plucked and played with a bow – in this beautiful performance from TED2010.
Sirena Huang: An 11-year-old's magical violinSirena Huang: An 11-year-old's magical violinSirena Huang: An 11-year-old’s magical violin
What makes this pre-teen such an incredible violin player? In this adorable talk from TED2006, Sirena Huang gives the credit to the design of the instrument itself – which she says counts as Technology, Entertainment and Design.
Robert Gupta: Music is medicine, music is sanityRobert Gupta: Music is medicine, music is sanityRobert Gupta: Music is medicine, music is sanity
Violinist Robert Gupta, a TED Senior Fellow, tells a story about the brilliant, schizophrenic musician Nathaniel Ayers, who ended up on the streets of LA’s Skid Row. A beautiful talk on music’s power to transform a troubled mind.
Ahn Trio: A modern take on piano, violin, celloAhn Trio: A modern take on piano, violin, celloAhn Trio: A modern take on piano, violin, cello
At TEDWomen in 2010, three sisters — Maria, Lucia and Angella Ahn – bring intense energy to classic trio pieces and show that the piano, violin and cello don’t need to be staid.
Shane Koyczan: To This Day ... for the bullied and beautifulShane Koyczan: To This Day ... for the bullied and beautifulShane Koyczan: “To This Day” … for the bullied and beautiful
Spoken-word poet Shane Koyczan had already given the audience at TED2013 chills as he explained why he wrote his viral-video poem, “To This Day.” And then violinist Hannah Epperson stepped on stage to back his fast-flung words — to tremendous effect.
Michael Tilson Thomas: Music and emotion through timeMichael Tilson Thomas: Music and emotion through timeMichael TIlson Thomas: Music and emotion through time
Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas shares a lesson from his dad: What matters in music is what and how. In this talk from TED2012, he takes a personal look at the heritage of classical music. One of the pivotal moments in its development: Beethoven’s Violin Concerto.
Robert Gupta: Between music and medicineRobert Gupta: Between music and medicineRobert Gupta: Between music and medicine
Violinist Robert Gupta, of the LA Philharmonic, wasn’t always sure about what he wanted to do. At TEDMed 2012, he shares the moment he had to choose between playing music and pursuing a career in medicine, and reveals how what he chose falls in the middle.