Kim Kashkashian

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Kim Kashkashian
Kashkashian in 2008
Kashkashian in 2008
Background information
Born (1952-08-31) 31 August 1952 (age 70)
Detroit, Michigan, US
GenresClassical music
Occupation(s)Musician, educator

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[edit]

Kashkashian was born to Armenian-American parents[1][2][3] on August 31, 1952 in Detroit, Michigan.[4] She grew up in Detroit[5][3] in what Mark Slobin has described as an "only modestly Armenian household."[6] Her father had a baritone voice and sang Armenian folk songs, which influenced her.[5] She began playing the violin at the age of eight.[3] She first studied with Ara Zerounian, then continued her music education and switched to viola[5] at the Interlochen Arts Academy beginning from the age 12.[3] She studied at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore with Walter Trampler (1969–79) and Karen Tuttle (1970–75).[4][7][1] 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.[1] She was also the mentee of Felix Galimir.[3]

Teaching career[edit]

Kashkashian has been a faculty member at several institutions. In 1981–86 she taught at the New School of Music, Philadelphia,[4] in 1983–86 at the Mannes School of Music in New York,[3][4] 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.[1][4][3]

She returned to the United States in 2000 and began teaching viola and chamber music at New England Conservatory in Boston in fall 2000.[1][3]


Throughout her career, Kashkashian has recorded many discs both as a solo and chamber music artist.[4] She has been described as a "staunch proponent" of contemporary classical music.[1] She has collaborated with and commissioned works from Gidon Kremer, Yo-Yo Ma, Robert Levin, Felix Galimir,[7] and the Guarneri String Quartet,[8] György Kurtág, Krzysztof Penderecki, Alfred Schnittke, Giya Kancheli, Arvo Pärt, Peter Eötvös, Ken Ueno, Thomas Larcher, Lera Auerbach, Tigran Mansurian.[7][1]

She has collaborated with ECM Records since 1985.[1] The ECM website notes that she is "one of the pre-eminent artists of ECM New Series."[7]

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.[1] She regularly participates in the Ravina, Verbier Salzburg, Lockenhaus and Marlboro festivals.[1] In a 2000 interview she noted that a "violist has far more opportunities for solo playing in Europe than in America." She noted that the viola is fully accepted and respected as a solo instrument, while in America it is "just beginning to be reluctantly respected."[3]

Personal life[edit]

Kashkashian has a daughter.[1] In 1996 she moved from Freiburg to Berlin as she wanted her daughter to attend Berlin's only American school.[3]

She practices Chinese martial arts (kung fu), including Tai chi.[9] 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.[9]

In a 2013 interview with, Kashkashian stated that she is constantly confused with reality television personality Kim Kardashian due to their similarly spelled surnames.[10]

Kashkashian is one of the founders and (as of 2016) the Artistic Director[8] of Music for Food, an initiative aimed at fighting hunger.[1]

She first visited Armenia, her ancestral homeland, in 1989. She has collaborated with the famed Armenian composer Tigran Mansurian.[11]


Kashkashian is widely recognized as one of the world's top violists.[12][13][14][15][16] BBC Music Magazine wrote in 1997 that she is one of the "most sought-after violists for chamber music in America."[17] NPR's All Things Considered noted in 2007 that she is "one of only a few violists with an international solo career."[5] The New England Conservatory of Music website describes her as "internationally recognized as a unique voice on the viola."[1] 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.[8]

A minor planet discovered by Brian A. Skiff at the Anderson Mesa Station on November 6, 1980 is named after Kashkashian.[18]

Honors and accolades[edit]

Grammy Award[edit]

Kashkashian has received three nominations and has won one Grammy Award.[20]

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:


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Kim Kashkashian". New England Conservatory. Archived from the original on 27 February 2020.
  2. ^ "In Armenia, Discovering The Past And The Present". Billboard. March 27, 2004. p. 14. Renowned violist Kim Kashkashian—herself Armenian-American—explains...
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Eisler, Edith (August 1, 2000). "Profile: Violist Kim Kashkashian". Strings Magazine. Archived from the original on 18 August 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "KASHKASHIAN, Kim". International Who's who in Music and Musicians' Directory: (in the Classical and Light Classical Fields). Volume One (7th ed.). Psychology Press. 2000. p. 330–331. ISBN 9780948875533.
  5. ^ a b c d "Kashkashian Finds Her Voice in the Viola". All Things Considered. NPR. December 30, 2007. Archived from the original on 14 March 2020.
  6. ^ Slobin, Mark (2018). Motor City Music: A Detroiter Looks Back. Oxford University Press. p. 61. ISBN 9780190882082. ...violist Kim Kashkashian, who grew up in an only modestly Armenian household,...
  7. ^ a b c d "Kim Kashkashian". ECM Records. Archived from the original on 27 February 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d "Kim Kashkashian". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 4 March 2020.
  9. ^ a b "MEET THE PROS / Violist Kim Kashkashian – VC 20 Questions [INTERVIEW]". The Violin Channel on YouTube. October 29, 2019. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12.
  10. ^ DiMattina, Lindsey (February 12, 2013). "Grammy Winner Kim Kashkashian: I Get Confused with Kim Kardashian 'All The Time'". Archived from the original on 27 February 2020.
  11. ^ "Interview with Kim Kashkashian". Global Rhythm. Zenbu Media. 13 (4–9): 25. August 2004.
  12. ^ Baer, Adam (January 9, 2002). "In Defense of the Viola: Classical music's most deserving underdog". Slate. ...the world's few viola celebs—Yuri Bashmet, say, or Kim Kashkashian—and manages to nudge her way in.
  13. ^ Fox, Margalit (December 24, 2010). "Karen Tuttle, Violist and Teacher, Dies at 90". The New York Times. Ms. Tuttle's students have included some of the best-known violists in the world, among them Kim Kashkashian, Jeffrey Irvine and Carol Rodland.
  14. ^ Huizenga, Tom (March 15, 2015). "Kim Kashkashian: Invocations to the moon, played on viola". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 14 March 2020. That's why top violists such as Kim Kashkashian...
  15. ^ "The Lyrical Quality of Violist Kim Kashkashian". All Things Considered. NPR. January 8, 2008. Archived from the original on 14 March 2020. Although Kim Kashkashian is a world-famous violist...
  16. ^ Rivoire, Kelley (October 21, 2005). "Kashkashian Shines In Harbison's Viola Concerto". The Tech. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 125 (48): 7. Archived from the original on 2012-08-08. ...Kim Kashkashian, an NEC faculty member and one of only a handful of world-renowned violists, as soloist.
  17. ^ "Kim Kashkashian American, 1952". BBC Music Magazine. No. 6. 1997. p. 53. One of the most sought-after violists for chamber music in America...
  18. ^ "8994 Kashkashian (1980 VG)". NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 6 November 2010. Archived from the original on 28 June 2013.
  19. ^ "George Peabody Medal Recipients". Peabody Institute. Archived from the original on 3 March 2020.
  20. ^ "Kim Kashkashian". Grammy Award. Archived from the original on 27 February 2020.

External links[edit]