5. Joe Venuti
Not your average violinist - Guiseppe Venuti (mostly known as Joe) is known as the father of the jazz violin. Along with guitarist Eddie Lang, he made a huge number of recordings in the 1920s and 30s and inspired future generations of jazz violinsts, including Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt. Listen to his upbeat in this fantastic album- our favourites are Wild Cat and Four String Joe.
Russian violinist David Oistrakh gave his debut performance at the age of six and went on to become the most famous violinist of the Soviet era. Both Shostakovich and Khachaturian dedicated their violin concertos to him, and he performed on a number of Stradivarious violins throughout his career. Listen to Oistrakh perform Brahms' gorgeous Violin Concerto in this album.
A charming and elegant performer, the Austrian violinist Fritz Kreisler played with an instantly recognisable tone. Although not as flamboyant as other violinists, his technique was still breathtaking, and the cadenza he wrote for the Beethoven Violin Concerto is still performed today. This album of Kreisler performing his own works and arrangements shows off his unique sweet tone.
The greatest violinist of the twentieth century, Heifetz could reduce an audience to tears with the beauty of his playing one moment, and then whip them into a frenzy of excitement with a vituosic flourish the next. Take a listen to this album, the first of several albums of previously unreleased live recordings of Jascha Heifetz. This first volume includes the "Caprice No. 24 in A minor" by Paganini - a real test of talent!
Paganini was said to have sold his soul to the devil to play as he did. He was famous across the whole of Europe for his virtuosity on the violin. Scientists even dissected his hands and wrists on his death to discover if he had been born with a physical advantage. They found nothing special - which just goes to show what a peerless musician he was! No recordings exist of Paganini (he died thirty years before the first phonograph recordings) but some of his compositions do; listen to Desmond Bradley performing some of Paganini's Caprices.