1. How long have you been playing violin?
I began playing the violin when I was six years old.
2. Who gave you the passion to pursue it as a career?
My father, Irving Ludwig, began teaching me from open strings. And even as I learned open strings, he taught me to play them with the mentality of an artist. Everything I studied, from scales to etudes and caprices, etc, he demanded that I play with an artistic sensibility. He inspired me both through his teaching and his beautiful violin playing. I grew up hearing his violin playing, which was defined by an extraordinarily beautiful, individual sound and great artistry. I knew from my earliest years that I would have a life in music.
3. If you could have been anything other than a musician, what would that be and why?
Music is such an intrinsic part of my life that I could not imagine it any other way. One of the most interesting aspects of my musical life is that it has expanded to such diverse activities over the years. In addition to my solo work, I am Artist-in-Residence Professor of Violin at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. Teaching is increasingly important to me. I am eager to pass along what I can to the next generation with the hopes of sustaining the great tradition of playing that was taught to me by my dad and dates back to his teacher Raphael Bronstein and Mr. Bronstein’s teacher, the legendary Leopold Auer. I also have become active as a conductor. Studying orchestral scores and approaching them from a new perspective on the podium has been very exciting for me. As the Music Director of the Roxborough Orchestra, I have the opportunity to work with wonderful musicians throughout the Philadelphia metropolitan area. And in instances such as conducting the South Jersey High School Honors Orchestra, which I just did at the beginning of January, I get the wonderful possibility to merge my passion for studying and performing music with that of teaching and working with aspiring young musicians.
4. Why did you choose Philadelphia as your permanent home?
I was born in Philadelphia. I have chosen to live here over the years because it is the home of my family and so many friends.
5. Outside of music, what do you love about Philadelphia?
I love that Philadelphia is the birthplace of our great nation. I love the city’s history and its traditions. And I love how its various neighborhoods have their own special charm and character.
6. What’s your favorite Philadelphia attraction?
7. Describe your perfect day off.
My perfect day off is a day spent with my wife Rachael, whether it is a quiet day, a day at the beach, enjoying going to a baseball or football game, or going out for a nice dinner…as long as we are doing it together. And we are now expecting our first child, so we will look forward to doing these wonderful things together as a family!
8. What music do you listen to?
I listen to a variety of music. I especially love the American Songbook. Frank Sinatra is my favorite artist. His ability to take you inside the lyrics of these great songs, to feel the emotions with such passion and authenticity, and of course his extraordinary voice, I believe is unparalleled. I enjoy listening to many other singers from his era, as well. I also love listening to classical recordings from the early to mid part of the 20th century. I especially appreciate the great violinists that brought such individuality, sophistication, and seriousness to their craft.
9. Describe your relationship with the composers on this concert?
I am delighted to say that I am friends with four of the composers on this program: Daron Hagen, Kenneth Fuchs, John Corigliano, and Dirk Brossé! This is really an amazing opportunity: to perform the works of two great 21st century composers, Hagen and Fuchs, in collaboration with yet another great composer, Maestro Brossé, on the podium. I am looking forward to all of the musical and personal interaction as we prepare these works for performance.
10. What do you like most about the work composed for you versus the piece that’s dedicated to you?
It was such a great honor that Daron wrote a concerto for me. He approached this work with a real sense of the lyric quality of violin playing that is so important to me. And he was the perfect composer to do this, as his music is so lushly romantic and vocal in nature. I love the soaring melodies and the silky harmonies of this work, and I love that Daron drew inspiration from his wife, Gilda, singing at night to their son. Kenneth Fuchs’ American Rhapsody is a beautiful romance. I love the transparency of Ken’s writing, very serene but with a passionate intensity underlying it. I feel a very personal connection with American Rhapsody and I am deeply moved that Ken dedicated this work to me.
11. Have you played the works on this concert extensively?
I have performed Ken Fuchs’ American Rhapsody a number of times in North Dakota, the Sewanee Music Festival, and most memorably with the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own”. I also had the honor to record American Rhapsody with JoAnn Falletta and the London Symphony Orchestra. I have performed Daron Hagen’s Songbook a number of times with JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic, and recorded it with them as well. I am very excited to perform these two beautiful works here in my hometown!
See Michael Ludwig perform with the Chamber Orchestra for Brossé conducts The Sounds of America on February 26 & 27, 2017. Click here for more details.