Interview with the incredible violinist Linus Roth

Interview with the incredible violinist Linus Roth

The award-winning violinist Linus Roth has recently come to Athens on the 28th of February to play the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Athens State Orchestra. It was indeed a fabulous performance. He had the courtesy to give a short interview. We talked about the Beethoven concerto, his teaching approach, about practicing and about his music festival in Ibiza.   


About Practice

What does your ideal practice session look like?

L.R. As I´m traveling a lot I really enjoy the few days at home having time to practise. This in itself is already ideal. The length really depends on the number of pieces I have to have ready in my fingers and mind. It can be anything between one and eight hours. However, it is important to take several breaks in between so you can keep fresh.


Do you have a specific warmup routine?

L.R. Yes, I do scales, also in double stops and I do vibrato exercises. Furthermore, I like to practise long notes for a few minutes to get the contact feeling with the string and train my bow arm.


Let’s talk a bit about vibrato. Is there any advice or a specific exercise you would like to share with us regarding vibrato?

L.R. In a good vibrato the nail joint must be able to move freely, and it´s important to execute the movements - be it from the wrist or the arm- as rhythmically as possible. And it is very important to only vibrate from the pitch of the note direction down, never up!


What is your best advice on practicing?

L.R. The most important thing during practicing is concentration, not length. However it is also important to do practise regularly.


What is your opinion on the discourse on spontaneous versus calculated playing?

L.R. Great music and its interpretation deserves that the musician is making up his mind about it. The audience then deserves that he forgets about it again once he goes on stage and plays spontaneously. 


What is your process in learning a new piece?

L.R. I first learn the notes and the score. Once I have found my first basic interpretation it can be inspiring to listen to some good recordings as well.


Beethoven violin concerto

How many times have you played the Beethoven Violin Concerto?

L.R. I really don´t know, but I guess more than 40 times for sure.


How do you retain your repertoire ready for performance?

L.R. All major concertos like the Beethoven I played in Athens are always ready in my fingers. However, I still like to practise it for each performance.


Beethoven violin concerto is a very popular piece that has been played by most violinists. How easy it is to escape from traditions in interpretation and bring a fresh approach to the interpretation?


L.R. It was only a few years ago, after having performed it already often, that I discovered I was not playing the original slurs but those an editor has suggested in the Urtext edition of Henle. That was very confusing, so I had to relearn a few things. I think it´s important to keep the good traditions but always question them at the same time if they really make musical sense.

About Teaching

How do you approach teaching?

L.R. I really enjoy teaching. You have to know how the technique works and be able to explain it. The same goes for the music and the main violin repertoire. But actually, then you cannot prepare yourself for teaching further, as every student is different and so are his / her problems. Only after listening to the student’s playing you can decide how to proceed, and I do it always differently according to what is most needed. Experience helps, but you also need a good intuition for this.

How do you deal with students who experience physical pain?

L.R. Holding and playing the violin is in itself not a very comfortable or natural position, so physical pain can easily occur. My job as a teacher is to make sure the student is not tensed. However, good massage or a physiotherapist who is specialized in treating performing musicians can be of great help once the pain comes back.

Could you please suggest some books about music and violin playing that you consider a must read for every violinist?

L.R I personally love biographies of great musicians, They are very inspiring. Like the ones from Menuhin, Milstein or Rubinstein.

The Ibiza Music Festival

The last three years you run an international music festival in Ibiza. Would you like to talk to us about this project?

L.R. I really love the Ibiza! it has a very free and strong energy and vibes. I used to visit often, for short vacations or to perform concerts. I always wanted to have my own festival, so it was clear for me that I wanted to organize it where I love to be. And as Ibiza is famous for partying and its DJs and clubbing scene, a classical music festival is something special there.  The concerts take place open air in the inner court of a former monastery, located on a cliff in the old town of Eivissa which is called Dalt Vila and is a UNESCO World heritage site. Due to the four walls that surround the inner court the acoustics are perfect, although you sit open air under the stars. The atmosphere is just magic, for both audience and performers because it all happens open air under the stars. You should all visit! The next festival takes place between 27.-29 of August.! You can find more info at