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Classical 101

Gregor Huebner: A Gypsy Violinist in Harlem

Gregor Huebner may not be a name you recognize, but if you listen to his new recording, El Violin Latino, I think he's someone you'll want to get to know. Huebner is a German violinist/composer who has taken up residence in Harlem and is beginning to channel his musical roots into both performance and recording. He says his earliest music memories while growing up in Germany are not of being surrounded by music in the great Germanic tradition of Bach, Brahms, and Mendelssohn, but of hearing his grandfather playing gypsy music at parties. In an article in the Wall Street Journal, music writer Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim gave a little background into Huebner's musical life. "I grew up with Gypsy music," Mr. Huebner said during a recent interview. "My grandfather played first violin in a little orchestra in what is now the Czech town of Krnov. Every Sunday, they played Gypsy tunes and salon music from the Hapsburg era." It is Huebner's gypsy past which infuses his new recording, El Violin Latino, with energy. Each track is infused with a gypsy spirit just beneath the surface. Huebner learned to improvise from his grandfather, an art that would put him on the outs with his violin teacher in Vienna. When his instructor learned he was moonlighting playing jazz piano in local bars, he was nearly kicked out of his postgraduate studies. His story is a fascinating one. I encourage you to read it here and to sample his recording, which has several of his own pieces along with music by Piazzolla, Nazareth, and Jobim, among others. You might just get hooked. Watch: Huebner plays one of his own compositions with the Sirius String Quartet. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCwUfxZhHOI