Violist  Kim  Kashkashian
A Conversation with Bruce Duffie


Grammy-nominated violist Kim Kashkashian has established herself as one of the most accomplished artists of her generation. She has been hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “an artist who combines a probing, restless musical intellect with enormous beauty of tone.” The New York Times has joined in these accolades, praising her “rich, mellow timbre and impressive artistry.” In recent seasons, she has appeared as soloist with the major orchestras in New York, Berlin, Vienna, London, Milan, Munich and Tokyo, and has performed recitals in Boston, New York, Washington, D.C. and many more cities throughout the United States. Fueling her passion for contemporary music, Ms. Kashkashian has developed close relationships with such composers as Gubaidulina, Penderecki, Kancheli, Kurtág, Mansuriän, Pärt, Berio and Eotvos, performing their existing works and commissioning new ones to expand the viola repertoire. Kashkashian also teaches at New England Conservatory, working with young violists and coaching chamber music ensembles.

I started out as a choral singer, and after beginning the piano, my first instrument as a child was the bassoon.  This double-reed later became my major in college, and along with the contra-bassoon, the woodwind family was the one I continued to identify with throughout my life.  However, my earliest encounter with any instrument was the viola.  My next-door neighbor in Evanston, IL, was Irving Ilmer, the violist with the Fine Arts Quartet of Chicago!  He later relocated to Indiana University where he taught for many years, but this knowledge stayed with me throughout my life.  Eventually I interviewed him and presented his recordings on WNIB. 

Perhaps the most internationally-known quartet to reside in Chicago was the Vermeer, and while I got to know all the members, my closest buddy was the violist, Richard Young.  He and I would often speak on the phone, and he persuaded me to narrate a privately-made program for the luthier Carl Becker, as well as to give a series of pre-concert lectures when the Vermeer was presenting their cycle of Beetoven quartets.  And while I am friends with a substantial chunk of the Chicago Symphony personnel, the principal and assistant principal violists are among them.  Indeed, the second chair is a Chinese-American who helped with introductions when I visited his native country. 

Needless to say, there are others violists among my interview guests, but all of this detail is simply to show my affinity for the middle-voice string and its proponents.  For some strange reason, this is the (standard, non-speciality) instrument that gets maligned and joked about more than any other.   Obviously, I never felt this way about it.  To me, this was simply another voice in the ensemble of sounds that gave richness to the whole and added vibrance and color to the overall sonic impression.

Knowing of Kim Kashkashian for a while, I was eager to speak with her, and when she came to Chicago for a concert in 1993, we arranged to meet for a conversation.  She was immediately friendly and warm, and our dialogue ranged over several topics.

As we were setting up, our chit-chat involved personal contentment . . . . .

Bruce Duffie:    What does a violist ask for out of life?

Kim Kashkashian:    Same as anyone else!

BD:    Really?  No more, no less?

KK:    Challenging work, a loving home, and the chance to give whatever you have to give.  That’s the same as everybody wants, right?

BD:    Probably so.  Are you finding all of that?

KK:    I can’t complain.  I’m really very happy, yes.

BD:    Good.  Now professionally you do solo recitals, chamber music and concertos.  How do you divide your career amongst those three very different activities?

KK:    Mostly it is chamber music and solo concerts.  I try to devote one-third of my time to each of those things, and another third to teaching.  It is very, very important for me to teach talented violists on a one to one basis.  I wouldn’t want to miss out on that, either, so I try to keep it in a kind of balance.  Of course, every year it shifts a little bit up or down, but I try to have a basic one-third for each.

BD:    Is it important for a teacher to continue a performing career?

kashkashian KK:    There are cases of people who were great teachers who did not perform.  In this country, the example that comes to mind is Galamian, who really did not perform, but nurtured some of the great violinists of the last generation and this one.  However, for me
and I think for many of my colleaguesteaching and performing do feed on each other.  What I learn on the stage, I give in the classroom, in the studio.  And what I formulate in the studio can help me to focus, in a different way, onstage also.  So for me, it’s very important to be doing both simultaneously.

BD:    Galamian, of course, was famous for violin technique.  Can that can be expanded a little bit for viola technique?

KK:    Yes.  Although he said he never taught the viola, it was important to him that all this violinists at least experience playing the viola.  In fact, at his summer camp, most violinists did play a little bit of viola at one time or another.

BD:    It’s important that the violinists know what you are doing, too?

KK:    Well, it can’t subtract!  [Both laugh]  Playing an inner voice in a string quartet certainly teaches one how to sculpt a melody.  I find also that people who start out playing the viola and who don’t get enough chance to play the great solo repertoire, should play violin also.

BD:    Is there much of that?  I would assume that most people who work on viola start on violin.

KK:    It’s becoming more and more common to actually begin on the viola, or to switch to the viola within the first years, the elementary years.  But
it’s certainly helpful for a violist to pick up the violin in their teens or twenties — not necessarily to walk onstage with it, but to learn some of the repertoire and to learn the ease of playing the violin, in comparison to, let’s say, the stubbornness of the viola!

BD:    So it’s a misconception to think that the viola is just a large size violin?  It has other characteristics?

KK:    Certainly it does.  To finish what we were just talking about, the way the instrument speaks is certainly different.  It’s more slow to respond, and it takes a good deal more muscular effort as well.  On other levels, the characteristic of the viola is that it, in fact, has no single voice.  You find violas of many different qualities, many different voices
the alto viola, the tenor viola, and so on.  So we as violists have more of a choice, more of a range, when we choose our instrument, as to what voice we’re actually choosing, and that’s a very interesting thing.  In the end, we identify very strongly with the voice or the emotional content of our instrument.

BD:    Once you have selected alto or tenor, or does this change from piece to piece, or repertoire to repertoire?

KK:    It can change in a certain cycle, but I tend to be someone who likes the deeper quality of the viola.  For example, if you listen to William Primrose, or Boris Kroyt from the old Budapest Quartet, they preferred more of the head voice, the higher pitched sound.  Both are not only valid, but very beautiful.

BD:    So if you’re if you’re doing a quintet where there are two violas, you would select the lower part?

KK:    I mean more the intrinsic quality of the voice being lighter or heavier.

BD:    More the color, rather than the pitch?

KK:    Yes.  This is not a pitch question, but a color question.

BD:    Do you then take that whole color over the whole range of the instrument?

KK:    Yes, that’s what I was referring to.  There’s a wide range of color available in violas, as opposed to the other string instruments.  

BD:    There’s not as much in a violin?

KK:    The differences are not as extreme.  If you pick up an old Brescian viola or a Strad viola, it sounds like two different instruments.  They don’t sound like they’re coming from the same size sounding box.

BD:    At what point did the size of the viola become standardized?

KK:    It still isn’t!  [Laughs]  That’s one of the very interesting things about being a violist today, that the instrument is still in a state of flux.  Modern makers are still experimenting with different outlines, different sizes, different gradations of the body.

BD:    Is this good, or would you rather they’d settle?

KK:    Oh, no, I think it’s wonderful!  It’s an adventure!

BD:    Do you try out every new viola that comes down the line?

KK:    I try to make myself available to new instrument makers.  I think it’s very important to select from instrument makes from all over the western globe, and also try to spread those instruments out a little bit.  At this point, three or four people in my class in Germany are playing American instruments, and vice versa.

BD:    When you teach someone, do you try to get them onto the right instrument for them as quickly as you can?

KK:    No, that is usually not an essential, not a first priority.  First priorities are to generate a communication where both people can use the same language, where muscular tensions don’t get in the way, where one can think about the priorities of the music.  Then one goes to the tool and says, “Okay, we’ve got you in a very good condition, but this instrument isn’t helping.”  Or it is a hindrance, in fact.  Only when I perceive an instrument to be a hindrance would I suggest another instrument.

kashkashian BD:    And give that instrument to someone of lesser talent at the moment, and let them build up on it?

KK:    It’s the individual’s choice, of course.  The instruments are owned by the students.

BD:    Oh, I see.  Are there some instruments around that you’d rather just break and throw away?

KK:    I’ve encountered a few!  [Both laugh]  In fact, I played on one for some years!  It was a great frustration, but it also had a very special tone.  So it had its advantages and disadvantages.

BD:    Did you finally smash it, or do you still treasure it?

KK:    I sold it to someone who’s happy with it.

BD:    That’s the best of all possible worlds, I guess.

KK:    Yes.

BD:    How many violas have you gone through so far in your career?

KK:    Three major ones.  Since I became a conservatory student, ‘til this point I’ve been basically with three instruments.

BD:    And you’re still looking?

KK:    I’m always looking, but more now for my students, or for myself for a second instrument.

BD:    Do you always play the same instrument?  Do you travel with it, practice on it, do everything with that same instrument?

KK:    Usually, yes.  Yes.

BD:    It’s really part of you, then?

KK:    I try not to think that, but it feels often like an extension of my person, yes.

BD:    So you’d prefer keep it as something separate, rather than allow it to become part of your flesh and blood?

KK:    One learns a lot by playing other instruments.  After one has identified so totally with one instrument, then to pick up another instrument and play it sometimes can actually help to re-focus away from instrumental priorities and back to basic music questions.  It’s like suddenly changing your voice.  It’s disconcerting, but enlarging.

BD:    At least you don’t have the problems of a pianist, who has to come to a new instrument every time.

KK:    It’s advantages and disadvantages of that situation.  I suppose most pianists would certainly say that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages, because you take pot luck almost every time.  On the other hand, what I now begin to sense is that there must be an absolute focus on the music as an absolute, and not as a sensual extension of the person.  And it brings out interesting other elements.  For example, if a string player is playing an instrument which speaks with difficulty
and there are plenty of themthen their tendency is to neglect the long line, because they are concerned with how each note is going to speak.  Or if a string player is playing on an instrument that doesn’t have a great range of dynamic possibilities, then they will maybe concentrate exclusively on rhythm or the rhythmic element in a phrase, rather than the sculpture of the dynamic range.  So all these things can get one-sided, and it’s very good, as a checkpoint, to then play on another instrument for a while and to say, “Oh, yes, I see.  My priorities were getting a little bit bent.”  It’s as if a person lived and spoke and worked only with one other person, and never had the frame of reference of the outside world.  You can get very one-tracked.

BD:    And lose sight of a lot of other possibilities?

KK:    Possibilities, ways of thinking, ways of hearing — all those things, yes.

BD:    Do you constantly strive to get more and more possibilities whenever you can?

KK:    I hope so!

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    Being a violist
rather than violinist with such a huge repertoiredoes that encourage you to seek out new works and commission others?

KK:    Yes; for most violists I would say yes.  I have no viola colleagues who don’t enjoy searching out new repertoire.  So in that sense we’re batting a hundred, whereas a violinist or a pianist can certainly devote their entire lifetime to music that was written in the preceding centuries.

BD:    Is there any reason to adapt violin concerti for the viola?

kashkashian KK:    There might be more reason to adapt bassoon concerti or clarinet concerti, or concerti with a similar range... or even possibly a cello concerto, where at least it would be one octave adjustment, and not necessarily squashing the range, as you’d have to do when you took a violin concerto.

BD:    Can I assume, though, that you’d much prefer to have a new work, rather than an adaptation?

KK:    I have nothing against a very good transcription, and to define that, a good transcription adds something to the piece of music.  It doesn’t just leave it alone, but adds another side to the story.  However, I can’t think of any concerti that fit into that category off hand.  Recital repertoire, certainly, is more flexible in that regard.

BD:    Usually I ask my guests about their vast repertoire, but from the narrow repertoire for the viola, how do you decide which ones you’ll play and which ones you may set aside?

KK:    Each person has his own criteria.  Mine would start with the priority being do I identify with the piece?  Can I feel at one with the piece and the composer and the viola?  If all those things are true, at least to a high percentage, then I will include it in my repertoire.

BD:    When you commission a work, do you have any specific requests for the composer, or do you just say, “Write me a nice piece?”

KK:    [Laughs]  Sometimes I have made requests, but I’ve learned not to.

BD:    [Surprised]  Why?

KK:    Well actually, sometimes you get what you ask for, and then you decide it wasn’t what you wanted
just as in the old fairy tale of the three wishes.

BD:    So just let the composer do what he does?

KK:    They have to do what’s flowing out of them.  After the piece is written, then the discussion can start as to what works and what doesn’t work instrumentally, or even temperamentally.  But at the initial stage, I wouldn’t want to influence in that way.

BD:    Do you have any suggestions for people who are writing music for the viola?

KK:    Keep doing it!  [Both laugh]

BD:    You want more stuff?

KK:    Sure!  Of course!  Of course we do!

BD:    Is there ever a chance it could be too much?  For instance, don’t we have, perhaps, too much piano literature?

KK:    That’s a big, big question you’re asking!  I don’t think there’s too much.  There’s too much that doesn’t get played.  We tend to live with the standards, so to speak, partly out of practical necessity, and partly out of an attitude which doesn’t allow for enough risk-taking.  I don’t point my finger at the individual performer, but at the whole musical set up, which, in this country and others, simply doesn’t allow for enough experimentation on the concert stage unfortunately.

BD:    Being a violist, though, your stuff is not as standard as the violinist’s or the pianist’s.  So of necessity, when they ask you to play a concerto or a solo recital, it’s going to be mostly at least new to the ear, not necessarily new music.

KK:    Mm-hm, you’re right.  A violist, as a soloist, usually fills that role.  If you look over the year’s programming in any given city, you’ll see that if there was a violist soloist, they were doing the token new work.  [Both grin knowingly]  I’m exaggerating now, and I sound more strict and negative than in fact the situation really is, but one has that impression.

BD:    We’ve kind of been dancing around it, so let me ask the question straight out
what is the purpose of music?

KK:    You can’t answer that very readily or very quickly, but let’s separate written music and performed music.  If we talk about performed music, one of its important functions is to move the audience.  If the listener leaves the hall or the place where the music was heard, feeling bigger than when they came in, or having just a bigger view, or having solved some internal problem, or even just having been moved in some way, then I think the primary function of that performance has been served.  With written music, that’s another category completely.  We’re talking about a piece of paper with notes written on it, and that’s something which requires an educated eye in order to make the work flower.  But in and of itself, that is a work of art.  If I look at a page of a score, it has a certain aura, and that, for a musician, is very important.

BD:    Are there pieces that can look great but not sound great?

KK:    Oh, no!  I don’t mean to imply that it’s one or the other.  It’s often the same! [Laughs]

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    You’ve made a number of recordings.  Do you play differently in the recording studio than you do in the concert hall?

KK:    To a degree, yes, because the microphone in the studio is very close to the body of the instrument.  Therefore, you must be more elegant in how you produce tone.  In a concert hall, some of the sounds that we produce which will project to the back of the hall, may not sound as beautiful up close.  There’s a certain degree of noise, of friction between bow and string which one would try to eliminate in front of a microphone.

BD:    Have you been pleased with the recordings you’ve made?  There have been a number of them that have been quite successful.

KK:    One always thinks, “Oh, I’d do it differently now,” but I’ve learned also to accept that what I did then had its own validity.  And as I get feedback from old recordings, I also learn to just accept that a recording which was made ten years ago I would certainly do differently now, but people are also enjoying it now.  So it’s always a bit of a challenge!  [Laughs]

BD:    Do you like making recordings?

KK:    Yes, I do.  We’ve recently recorded, with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, the Penderecki Concerto [see my Interview with Krzystof Penderecki] , Britten Lachrymae, and Hindemith Trauermusik.  That will be coming out under the title Lachrymae in the fall.

hindemith BD:    Is the Hindemith an addendum to the solo sonatas, or is it a completely separate piece?

KK:    It’s a different piece, completely separate piece.  Hindemith [photo at right] did write three viola concerti, and this very short piece for a specific occasion.  It has nothing to do with the sonata repertoire.

BD:    When I think of the sonatas, I sometimes forget about the concerti.

KK:    There are so many, aren’t there?  Seven sonatas he wrote for us... for himself, actually!  He was a violist.  He played everything, but the viola, I think, was closest to his heart. 

BD:    Does that make him special for you?  Did he know how to make the viola speak better than anyone else?

KK:    No.  To be fair, I wouldn’t say better than anyone else.  He was a very unusual performer in the way he handled the viola.  From tapes I’ve heard of his playing, and also from comments from people who actually did hear him play, he was quite a strong performer.  Not elegant, but rather strong.  He must have had very thick fingers.  My reason for saying that is that he very often wrote fifths, where you’re putting one finger which must cover two strings in parallel.  That’s something most violists, including myself, must do with care and must work for.  And many of the pieces are full of these fifths and fourths, and so on.  So I’m assuming he had nice fat fingers!

BD:    Is there any reason that you would want to make an adapter or something to put on the finger, to help that along?

KK:    I can’t imagine it feeling very good!  I need that feeling of contact between the string and my finger.  That’s important.

BD:    Can you tell what kind of a performer he was just by what he wrote and the way he wrote the line?

KK:    Well no, I wouldn’t say that because I think he was, first and foremost, a composer.  His compositions straddle quite a huge time period, and he went through many, many stylistic changes.  He also wrote big works for orchestra as well as many solo works for many, many different instruments.  Even among the viola sonatas there’s a huge range, stylistically, and in terms of what each piece would use as its most important element.  Some of them are kinetic, with a lot of kinetic energy going on, and some are absolutely the most cantabile singing writing you can imagine.

BD:    The seven sonatas make up a body of work for the instrument.  Has that explored everything on the instrument, or are there still other things to explore?

KK:    Of course there are other things to explore!  Many.  There have been plenty of composers since Hindemith’s day who have explored not only other sounds, but other magical elements of the viola and what can be done with the instrument.  Penderecki is an example, of course; Schnittke and Kancheli have also written viola concerti which explore new territory.  [See my Interview with Giya Kancheli.] 

BD:    These are European composers.  Have you also encouraged American composers to write for viola?  I know you’re playing a Harbison piece now.

KK:    Mm-hm.  That’s a very beautiful piece, and fairly new, actually.  I think he wrote it maybe four years ago.  In that piece, Harbison is exploring not so much new things for the viola itself to do, but rather new ways of combining different stylistic elements from his own work.  There’s a definite jazz element in the piece, particularly in the last movement, always coming with this funny rhythm and a little bit spicy, I would say.  It’s beautifully spiced music.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    Are you now at the point in your career where you expect to be, or want to be?

KK:    Again, a hard question because I had a great deal of good luck in my career, and I remain very grateful for that good luck.  I know many, many musicians
— not only violistswho have a lot to say, and who never get enough of a chance to be out on the stage and do it.  In that sense I’ve been lucky.  I’ve had more than my share and I’m very happy because of that.  And yes, to answer the other part of the question, I’m where I want to be right now.

kashkashian BD:    Do you like being a wandering minstrel?

KK:    At the moment I’ve curtailed some of that wandering.  I have a three year old daughter, and for the last two and a half or three years, I’ve been pretty much on a half schedule; and I’ll continue that until she starts school.

BD:    [With a gentle nudge]  Then you will leave her to her own devices?

KK:    [Smiling broadly]  Well, certainly not to her own devices!  But I think when she has another focus besides Mama, then I can also re-focus more.  We’ll see what happens.  It’s very open territory for me.

BD:    Has having a child of your own changed your outlook or your opinion or your ideas about some of the music you play?

KK:    Not really.  It has changed one thing
it’s made it much easier for me to walk onstage and play.  It’s also made it easier for me to play chamber music with partners.  Both things have become easier; anything’s more predictable than a little child!  [Both laugh]  Of course there are always things that can go either better or worse than one expects in the last minute, and one also wants to leave room for improvisation.  But I know that if I’ve done my preparation, then the event will be within a certain range.  Whereas with my daughter, I have no idea what’s going to come next!  Some mornings she wakes up and she’s sunny and beautiful, and half an hour later there’s a thunderstorm.  I don’t know why.  So in that sense, the performing life has become the more predictable part of my life.  I used to fear it as being unpredictable, so it’s all relative, you see!  [Laughs]

BD:    Do you try to get everything exactly right in rehearsal, or do you leave something for that spark of the performance?

KK:    We try to get everything right, at any given moment.  Also in the practice room, I try to get everything as I imagine it being, as right as possible.  But I assume that what I imagine being right is going to change from day to day and from hour to hour when we talk about walking on stage.

BD:    Do you respond to the audience that is there each night?

KK:    I hope so.  [Laughs]  I certainly try to be open to that, yes.

BD:    Is playing viola fun?

kashkashian KK:    Sometimes.  It can be, if everything is flowing.  If the music and the imagination and the physical flow are all working together, then it can be very joyful.  But it isn’t always.  Those things don’t always come together, and then you fall back on your hard work
if you’ve got enough of that background and hard work!  Nevertheless, it can be a good experience for the listener even if you’re not having that ultimate pleasure yourself.

BD:    Do you have any horror stories, like breaking a string or having a bridge fall off?

KK:    I guess the most shocking thing that ever happened to me was having my bow snap.

BD:    [Genuinely surprised]  Really???

KK:    I was playing a Bartók concerto, and suddenly — ka-bam!  The tip of the bow just snapped right in half.  The wood of the bow broke.  There had apparently been a weakness in the wood.  That bow I’m still using.  It’s been repaired; it’s got a little dowel going through the tip now.

BD:    Like putting a pin in someone’s hip?

KK:    Yes, exactly!  But that was a bit of a shock, yes!

BD:    Did you change bows with the principal violist then?

KK:    I went and got my other bow.

BD:    Often times you’ll see a violinist change instruments with the concertmaster when a string breaks.  Would you change with the principal violist?

KK:    Actually, that’s interesting.  It goes back to the first point that we were discussing.  Violas are so different in size
both the fingerboard span (how far apart the notes are), as well as the body of the instrumentthat I would do that only if we were close to the end of a piece.  If not, I probably wouldn’t want to take that risk.

BD:    You just wouldn’t be comfortable with another instrument?

KK:    It might be too different.  I might rather stop the performance and take the time to choose from among the available violas the one that was at least close to the size of my own.  But I don’t know; it’s never happened.  I don’t know what I would do!

BD:    I can just imagine in the middle of a concert...  “No, no, yes — you, at the third stand!”  [Laughs]

KK:    If it were at any point in the piece where a break would make more sense, I’d just go get a new string for my own instrument.

BD:    Strings don’t break very often, do they?

KK:    I’ve had the experience very rarely of having a string break in a concert.

BD:    You’re very lucky!  [Laughs]

KK:    Well, it has happened, and it’s disconcerting, to say the least.

BD:    I assume that your strings are a little larger and a little tougher than on a violin.

KK:    They are a little bit stronger, yeah.

BD:    The open strings on the viola are a fifth lower than the violin, but you are an octave higher than the cello.  Do you feel any closer kinship to the lower instrument than the higher one? 

KK:    The muscular technique is different because you’re holding it in a completely different way, but there are certain elements of string playing which carry through all the four string instruments.

BD:    I wanted to ask you about viola d’amore.  Is that part of the repertoire, or is it just an ancient thing that you never use?

KK:    My predecessor in Freiburg, where I teach, played viola d’amore, and I believe Walter Trampler does, if I’m not mistaken.  I think he does.  I’ve tried to play the instrument, but I would not want to take it onstage and play it.  It’s a little bit confusing for me.

BD:    Why?

KK:    More strings, different fingering, and so on.  But I do have a modern five-string viola, which I can set up either with a top E string or a low F string, depending on the repertoire.  I can handle the five strings, but I have to think about it a lot!

BD:    Thank you so very much for chatting with me.  I wish you lots of luck with this concert, and all the other concerts and recordings coming up.

KK:    Thank you.

Kim Kashkashian was born in Detroit, Michigan to Armenian parents. Her studies were at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore with Walter Trampler and Karen Tuttle, and at the Marlboro Music Festival where she worked intensively with Felix Galimir.

kashkashian After experiencing unanticipated successes at the Tertis and Munich competitions, Kim Kashkashian appeared as soloist with the major orchestras of Chicago, Cleveland, Berlin, Milan, London, Tokyo and Vienna, working with conductors including Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, Christoph Eschenbach, Dennis Russell Davies and Franz Welser-Möst. She has performed in recital in New York, San Francisco, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Vienna, Berlin, Paris, London and Amsterdam, as well as in the chamber music centers of Salzburg, Verbier and Ravinia.

Kim Kashkashian's quest for new directions and forms of music making is an active element of her musical life. Her work with György Kurtág, Tigran Mansurian, Betty Olivero, Giya Kancheli, Krzysztof Penderecki, Ken Ueno and Peter Eötvös has extensively enriched the repertoire for viola.

Ms. Kashkashian has collaborated with the Tokyo, Guarneri and Orion quartets and toured with a unique quartet which included Daniel Phillips, Gidon Kremer and Yo Yo Ma. Current partnerships include duos with Robert Levin and with percussionist Robyn Schulkowsky.

After early recordings of Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante and Divertimento with DGG and Sony, a long term relationship with ECM Records has created an extensive discography which includes the award winning Brahms sonatas, the complete Hindemith sonatas, the concertos of Bartók, Eötvös, Kurtág, Berio, Kancheli, Olivero and Mansurian, the Bach Sonatas for viola da gamba (with Keith Jarrett), Hayren (music of Tigran Mansurian and Komitas) and Asturiana, songs from Spain and Argentina.

Kim Kashkashian has always included teaching into her musical activities, and has been associated with the Bloomington School of Music, the Hochschule of both Berlin and Freiburg, Germany and is presently teaching chamber music and viola at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston where she has made her home. She plays a viola by Peter Greiner.

© 1993 Bruce Duffie

This interview was recorded in Chicago on July 16, 1993.  Portions (along with recordings) were used on WNIB in 1996 and in 1997, and it was also used on WNUR in 2003 and 2010.  This transcription was made and posted on this website in 2010.

To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.  To read my thoughts on editing these interviews for print, as well as a few other interesting observations, click here.

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Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001.  His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.

You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests.  He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago.  You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.