Gwendolyn Masin, violinist

Who or what inspired you to take up the violin, and pursue a career in music?

My family and surroundings were and are the inspiration. Watching my grandmother play piano, I sat down in front of the instrument and began to learn from the age of three. The violin was a birthday gift when I turned five, given to me by my parents who are both violinists and violists.

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

I have been greatly inspired by music itself in its many forms, particularly vocal jazz which has taught me a lot about phrasing and about turning mistakes around. And I have learned from difficult situations in life that have pushed me to new plains and challenged me to continue developing.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

The greatest challenge has been the road to unconditional performance. However, I see it not as a challenge but as a gift to walk this road.

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

I am never proud of my playing – I am deeply motivated to play and utterly in love with music. Each recording, each performance is the result of a lot of consideration and a cosmic act of spontaneity that neither I nor my music partners can force. It happens as soon as we stop wanting,and simply give ourselves uncompromisingly to music.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

There are certainly pieces I play with a stronger sense of identification – I tend to fall in love with 90% of the pieces I play and find meaning and newness in each.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

I love to learn new pieces and get very excited about “biting” into works I have not played yet. However, there is a certain comfort and space for profundity, a melting into music, with works one is familiar with. Ideally, I try to mix both into each season.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

I feel a great sense of awe and homecoming in the Concertgebouw, in Dublin’s National Concert Hall or Budapest’s Liszt Academy. I also love to play in small venues, I enjoy the sense of intimacy I can share with an audience in such a space.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

There are so many moving moments I’ve had on stage and it’s always such a pleasure to play – I find it difficult to pick just one.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

My definition of success as a musician is the very possibility to live life through and in music. Success is very important to me, but satisfaction and the beauty of heartfelt emotion beats success every time.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

I consider it important to impart a sense of freedom in music to aspiring musicians. I come across many players who are technically proficient but do not exude a sense of enjoyment whilst playing or have too little understanding of the work. I hope, sincerely, that young musicians, after being in contact with me, feel elated and inspired after sharing music with me.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Perfect happiness? Bach or Beethoven on a Sunday morning with a good cup of tea, great company and a breathtaking view.


Gwendolyn Masin’s new album entitled Flame is available now, and she will perform some of the works from the album in a concert at the National Concert Hall in Dublin on 8 March 2018

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