Highlights from Stefan Jackiw Master Class

Stefan Jackiw headshot

The acclaimed violinist and Opus 3 Artist shares his wisdom with SFCM students

In March, Stefan Jackiw, who is represented by SFCM’s newly acquired Opus 3 Artists, held a master class for students.

Stefan Jackiw is one of America’s foremost violinists, captivating audiences with playing that combines poetry and purity with an impeccable technique. Hailed for playing of "uncommon musical substance" that is “striking for its intelligence and sensitivity” (Boston Globe), Jackiw has appeared as soloist with the Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco symphony orchestras, among others.

Below are highlights of Jackiw’s words of wisdom.
“A few weeks ago I was on Youtube and it suggested a video of David Oistrakh playing the cadenza from the Shostokovich Concerto—which is, of course, a very famous video. It was the most wildly energetic thing, but [Oistrakh] is actually quite still. That is just one example of how one can figure out a way to channel all that energy into a motion that doesn’t get in the way of the sound product.”

“Whenever we deal with a theme and variations, often what the composer has in mind is highlighting emotions, different moods,and different elements in each subsequent variation. It’s really up to us as performers to bring out what we think is the core message, core mood, core image that the composer is going for in that particular variation.”

“I think it’s important to remember that often when we approach Bach, we’re already carrying so much psychological baggage—how it was played back then, how it should be played now, should we play it on a period instrument, should we play it on a modern instrument and emulate a period instrument, or should we embrace the way our instruments sound on their own. On top of that, it’s just so difficult to play this polyphonic music on the violin. Because there’s all this baggage, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that Bach actually is a very dramatic composer. There’s a lot of drama in his music. Just listen to any of his passions to hear how human and how much human emotion there is in his music.”

“For me, one thing that helps me make sense of what this Brahms concerto is about is thinking about how the driving force behind the drama in this piece is the dramatic tension between German, symphonic Brahms and the Hungarian, Romani, zigeuner Joachim.”

“Give yourself permission to be free, and to be adventurous, and give yourself license to think outside the box.”

Watch Jackiw’s master class.

Learn more about SFCM’s strings department.