Meet Isabelle Faust

In May 2015, Isabelle Faust made her LSO debut as part of the LSO International Violin Festival. At the time, we were delighted to catch up with her to hear more about her life – and her instrument. Read on to find out more and learn how you can bring Faust's playing into your living room…

Isabelle Faust

Isabelle Faust began playing the violin at the age of five, winning the Leopold Mozart Competition just ten years later, followed by the Paganini Competition at the age of 21. Over two decades later, she’s in demand as a soloist all over the world, playing repertoire from J S Bach right through to the music of today, and has won many major international awards for her acclaimed recordings.

The Violin

Isabelle Faust has been playing the 1704 ‘Sleeping Beauty’ Stradivari violin since 1996. The violin is said to have received its intriguing nickname as a result of its being stored, unplayed, for around 150 years. As a consequence, it remains in excellent condition.

> Read more about the violin and its history in our Strad blog

Isabelle Faust told The Strad: ‘I heard about this Stradivari violin from a friend back in 1996, who saw it at a violin dealer's place. He told me I should have a look, and I found it was as if it was made exactly for me. So I went and played on it for about an hour. I was immediately struck by some particular notes on each string that were so beautiful and special in a way I had never experienced before.’

'I feel privileged to be the one to have woken [the violin] up from its long 'Sleeping Beauty' sleep.'

Once Faust began working on the instrument, she says that ‘it seemed as though the violin just longed to be played seriously, after about 150 years of being forgotten. The first days of playing on it made it clear to me that the instrument would open up and change a lot in the future … Every day the violin sounds a bit different, and so is my playing. We have to adapt to each other, but also to climatic and acoustical conditions. It remains a new challenge every day to play an instrument with such strong and versatile personality. But I think we fit well together and I certainly feel privileged to be the one to have woken it up from its long ‘Sleeping Beauty’ sleep.’

With the LSO

Since her LSO debut as part of the International Violin Festival in 2015, Faust has performed with the Orchestra multiple times at the Barbican and on tour, and made appearances as part of the BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert series at LSO St Luke's! Last year, she was soloist for Dvořák's Violin Concerto in two concerts forming part of a three-concert celebration of Bernard Haitink's 90th birthday. In February of the previous year, she teamed up with Kristian Bezuidenhout for Mendelssohn's Concerto for Violin and Piano, with concerts in Cologne and at the Barbican.

On Thursday 26 March at 7.30pm GMT, we will be streaming a full concert recording featuring Mendelssohn's Concerto for Violin and Piano on our YouTube channel, with soloists Isabelle Faust and Kristian Bezuidenhout, conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner. Click here for more information and details on how to watch.

Faust in the LSO's 2020/21 Season

> Thursday 11 February 2021: Bartók Violin Concerto No 1

> Thursday 18 February 2021: Bartók Violin Concerto No 2

Some excerpts originally printed in The Strad and re-printed with permission

This post was originally published on 6 May 2015 and has been updated