A photo of faculty member Ian Swensen
  1. Faculty

Ian Swensen

Isaac Stern Chair of Violin; Violin; String and Piano Chamber


  • Private Lessons
  • Chamber Music


  • BM, Eastman School of Music, 1985


  • Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, 2008-Present
  • Tanglewood Music Festival, 2011-2015
  • Music@Menlo, 2002-2014


  • First Prize, Naumburg Chamber Music Competition, 1985
  • Top Prize, Naumburg Solo Violin Competition, 1984

What is your hometown?

New York, NY

What is your favorite recording?

Prokofiev's Violin Concerto in D Major by Joseph Szigeti.

What are you passionate about outside of music?

Hiking, family, and eating great Japanese and Chinese food.

Who were your major teachers?

Dorothy DeLay and Donald Weilerstein.

What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?

"What are good ways to practice or study?"

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

Probably when I played the Ravel Quartet at the Aspen Summer Music Festival at the age of 16. I was studying with Claus Adam of the Juilliard Quartet. That piece did it for me.

What was a turning point in your career?

When my college quartet (the Meliora Quartet) performed in Boston's Jordan Hall with the Cleveland Quartet.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?

I might be an oceanographer.

What is your daily practice routine?

Playing some Bach and some scales and basic patterns, along with learning new works.

If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Beethoven, Bach, and Bartók.

What are your most important collaborations?

The Cleveland Quartet, Menahem Pressler, and Robert Mann.

Who are three students you have had the privilege of teaching?

Joseph Maile, Eric Chin, and Li Lin.

What recordings can we hear you on?

Mendelssohn: String Octet, with the Cleveland Quartet and Meliora Quartet, Telarc
A Baroque Festival, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, 2007
Various Music@Menlo recordings

What is your unrealized project?

I've never played the complete Beethoven quartet cycle.