French violinist Philippe Graffin has forged a reputation for himself as an unparalleled player of French music. A well-known concert violinist and chamber musician, he is known to surprise his music-loving audiences with his eclectic choice of repertoire.
After being awarded premier prix at the Conservatoire de Paris, Philippe Graffin left for the United States to study with violinist Josef Gingold, a former pupil of Eugène Ysaÿe and alumnus of Indiana University Bloomington.
In 1987, he moved to the Netherlands and made a successful debut with the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic, conducted by Ernest Bour. Philippe Graffin carried out further study with Russian violinists Philippe Hirschhorn and Viktor Liberman.
Sir Yehudi Menuhin noticed Graffin after hearing him play at a competition in Graz. He invited Graffin to London to record with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, with Menuhin as conductor, and to give master classes at the Yehudi Menuhin School.
Since then, Philippe Graffin has played with many orchestras across the world. His knowledge of chamber music led him to found the Consonance Frestival in Saint Nazaire, which he continues to direct. Philippe Graffin is a musician with eclectic influences; he often incorporates original compositions or forgotten works, such as concertos by Frederick Cliffe, the complete violin works of Frédéric Erlanger, chamber music works by Jean Cras, the complete violin sonatas of Eugène Ysaÿe and Philippe Gaubert’s Concerto for Violin, into his concerts and recordings. Philippe Graffin has also shown an interest in and passion for contemporary music, performing a number of works by contemporary composers such as Philippe Hersant, Yves Prin, David Matthews, Rodion Shchedrin, who also often dedicated works to the violinist.
Philippe Graffin has also written a children’s story, The Hidden Fairy, for violin and narrator, featuring extracts from pieces by Mozart, Paganini, Ravel and Kreisler. He plays his surprisingly varied repertoire, ranging from Bach to Debussy, to Mozart, Ysaÿe, Ravel and Enesco, on a Domenico Busano violin made in Venice in 1730. He has inherited a very French style of playing from Josef Gingold, as well as a love for early 20th century works by the likes of Fauré, Franck and Chausson, which Ysaÿe often performed in his day.
Six Landmark Dates in the Life of Philippe Graffin
1981 – Awarded Premier Prix by the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris
1987 – Prize winner at the Fritz Kreisler Competition in Austria
1990 – Founded Consonances, a chamber music festival in Saint Nazaire
1998 – Recorded chamber music by Ernest Chausson, with Pascal Devoyon on piano and Gary Hoffman on cello
2008 – Became a professor at the Royal Conservatoire The Hague and the Royal Conservatory of Brussels
2014 – Recorded Rodion Shchedrin’s Concerto Parlando for Violin, Trumpet and Strings