Can’t decide what to give that special string player in your life? Why not add to their music collection? Here are a few suggestions from three pros: cellist Alexander Hersh, violinist Elena Urioste, and violinist Dick Bright.

cellist ALEXANDER HERSH
Alexander Hersh. Photo: Grittani-Creative LTD.

Alexander Hersh

Here are cellist Alexander Hersh’s recommendations, in no particular order.


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violinist Elena Urioste
Violinist Elena Urioste

Elena Urioste

These are violinist Elena Urioste’s suggestions, with descriptions!


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Violinist Dick Bright
Violinist Dick Bright

Dick Bright

Says violinist Dick Bright, “As a working musician and violinist, I have always felt it was important to learn all styles and genres as well as other skills for strings, such as arranging, studio recording, etc. With this kind of diversity in mind, here are five great albums every string player should listen to.”

  • Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D. Jascha Heifetz, violin (RCA). Always listen to the greats for inspiration. While there are many great soloists (Stern, Perlman, etc.) Heifetz is still the best. Disclaimer—I grew up in L.A. in the sixties, and my teacher Sybil Maxwell actually studied with Heifetz in the forties! 
  • Swing from Paris. Stéphane Grappelli, violin; Django Reinhardt, guitar (Asv Living Era). Gypsy jazz is a very important genre for all fiddle players to know, along with bluegrass, country, etc. And Grappelli is the Babe Ruth of Gypsy jazz. Take your classical training, mix it in with swing and improvisation.  
  • Birds of Fire. Mahavishnu Orchestra (Legacy Recordings). Unless you are strictly a classical player, you better learn how to improvise in various styles including jazz, fusion, and rock. Mahavishnu violinist, Jerry Goodman, is a master of all three. Interesting fact—the band asked Jean-Luc Ponty, perhaps the greatest jazz/bop fiddler of them all, to join the band first, but he was too busy. They did just fine. 
  • The Best of Philadelphia International Records. Various artists (Legacy Recordings). Some of my most satisfying work as a string player is doing pop string arrangements. And some of the best arrangements were happening at the Philly International label. Just listen to these lush yet super rhythmic strings behind Lou Rawls, the O’Jays, Teddy Pendergrass, and more. You will get a master-class education in hip pop strings. I guarantee that approaching violin as an arranger and not just a soloist will elevate your playing to a more mature level. 
  • A Fistful of Film Music: The Ennio Morricone Anthology. (Rhino). The violin is one of the most dramatic instruments on the planet, which is why so many great film composers write such memorable string parts. Think John Williams and Jaws, or Bernard Herrmann and Hitchcock’s Psycho with those stabbing strings. When it comes to cinematic film scoring, my favorite is Ennio Morricone. I love the obvious classical influences. This compilation includes the best of The Mission, Once Upon a Time in the West, and much more.