Joshua Bell is in an undisputed prodigy of the violin, whose virtuosic technique and musical versatility have earned him the praise of critics, audiences and fellow musicians from as early as his teenage years. He has performed and premiered many of the standard and modern works of violin repertoire and collaborated with many musicians from genres as diverse as jazz, bluegrass and film music, and is undeniable one of classical music’s most widely recognized musicians of the past 50 years.
Bell grew up in Bloomington, Indiana, and received his first violin at the age of four after his parents discovered him stretching rubber bands over his dresser drawers to make music. He quickly showed immense promise, making his soloist debut with the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra at the age of seven, becoming the youngest person ever to perform as a soloist on a subscription concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the age of 14 and making his Carnegie Hall debut with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra only three years later. Soon after, he enrolled in the Indiana University School of Music, where he studied with Josef Gingold, who would become his mentor and a major influence in his life.
Throughout the 1990s Bell systematically recorded award-winning versions of much of the standard violin repertoire, releasing more than 40 records since his debut at the age of 18. These include works by giants such as Bach and Beethoven as well as several contemporary composers, such as Nicholas Maw’s Violin Concerto (2000) which was written for Bell and won him a Grammy Award. Over time his interests began to broaden even more as he sought to challenge himself musically. In 1999 he teamed up with fellow Indiana alumnus and virtuoso double bassist Edgar Meyer to record Meyer’s bluegrass-classical crossover album Short Trip Home, and soon after he played with bluegrass superstar Béla Fleck on his Grammy-winning album Perpetual Motion (2001). Bell has also played with many of the leading figures in jazz, including Chick Corea and Wynton Marsalis.