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Classical 101

Battle of the Strads: 25 All-Time Best Violinists

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Marco Borggreve
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Vadim Gluzman

You might remember a great Southern Rock tune by the Charlie Daniels Band called Devil Went Down to Georgia. It tells the tale of young Johnny who is challenged by a fiddle-playing devil to a battle of bows. Johnny wins, he gets a golden fiddle. If the devil wins, he gets the young man's soul.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgvfRSzmMoU

Some years later, Mark O'Connor and some of his friends found themselves in a fiddle contest in The Devil Comes Back to Georgia.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0XUTD7QYcs

Who really IS the best ever? Many thought Niccolo Paganini was in league with the devil, especially when he played his 24 Caprices

All of us have our favorites. As far as I'm concerned, there is a glaring omission from this list. Vadim Gluzman. He was recently listed in Jean-Michel Molkhou's Sequel: Great Violinists of the Twentieth Century, Volume 2. I have seen him perform many times and he has the perfect combination of soul and dazzling technique. If you'd like to see for yourself, the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra Soiree features Vadim Gluzman and Philippe Quint in a "battle of the strings" this coming season. In my humble opinion, any list which does not include Vadim is incomplete. That being said, here is the list according to Classic FM.

Here's a list of the 25 best violinists of all time.