Robert Chen

February 18, 2019, 8:00 pm

Share this Post

Tonight, Live From WFMT presents a rebroadcast of violinist Robert Chen and pianist Matthew Hagle with music of Brahms, Ysaÿe, C. Schumann, and R. Strauss.

Robert Chen has been Concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1999. Since then he has been featured as a soloist with conductors including Riccardo Muti, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Bernard Haitink, Christoph Eschenbach, Charles Dutoit, Ton Koopman, Osmo Vänskä, Vasily Petrenko, Nicholas Kraemer and James Conlon. He gave the CSO premiere of György Ligeti’s Violin Concerto, Elliott Carter’s Violin Concerto, and Witold Lutoslawski’s Chain Two, as well as the world premiere of Augusta Read Thomas’s Astral Canticle.

In addition to his duties as concertmaster, Chen enjoys a solo career that includes performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic, New Japan Philharmonic, NDR Orchestra of Hanover, Asia Philharmonic and the Bournemouth Symphony, collaborating with conductors such as Myung-Whun Chung, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Manfred Honeck, Pavel Kogan and Andreas Delfs.

An avid chamber musician, Chen has performed with Daniel Barenboim, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Yo-Yo Ma, Lang Lang, Christoph Eschenbach, Myung-Whun Chung, Emanuel Ax, Mitsuko Uchida, Lynn Harrell, and János Starker. A frequent participant at numerous festivals including the Aspen Music Festival, Santa Fe Music Festival, La Jolla Chamber Music Festival, and the Schloss Moritzburg Festival, he also has toured extensively with Musicians from Marlboro and is a founding member of the Johannes Quartet.

Prior to joining the CSO, Chen won first prize in the Hanover International Violin Competition. As part of that prize, he recorded Tchaikovsky’s complete violin works for the Berlin Klassics label.

A native of Taiwan, Chen began his violin studies at the age of seven. He continued his studies with Robert Lipsett when he and his family moved to Los Angeles in 1979. While in Los Angeles, he participated in Jascha Heifetz’s master classes. Chen received both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music from the Juilliard School, where he was a student of Dorothy DeLay and Masao Kawasaki.

In his free time, he enjoys relaxing at home with his wife Laura and two children, Beatrice and Noah.


Pianist Matthew Hagle is a musician of great versatility and depth,whose performances are a rare mixture of musical understanding,imaginative programming, pianistic mastery and beauty of sound. In solo recitals he often explores the boundaries of the piano repertoire, using thoughtful programming and committed performance to integrate newer repertoire and lesser-known older works with the traditional canon. At the moment, he is working on a more conventional project: performing the 32 Beethoven Sonatas in a series of live radio recitals. Mr. Hagle is also highly valued as a collaborator by many other artists. With violinist Rachel Barton Pine, he has released two acclaimed CDs on the Cedille label, and performed many recitals in North and South America. His piano duo performances with Mio Isoda-Hagle are highlights of the annual Chicago Duo Piano Festival. Other chamber music partners have been the Parker Quartet, the Avalon Quartet, Quintet Attacca, and with members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.


Matthew Hagle has been heard in concert halls throughout the United States, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., Symphony Space in New York, and in concert at the United States Supreme Court. Outside of the U.S., he has performed at venues in England, Canada, Brazil, Australia and Japan. A resident of the Chicago area, Hagle performs frequently at local spaces including the Ravinia Festival, Symphony Center, and the Chicago Cultural Center. Mr. Hagle can often be heard on radio station WFMT in Chicago, and has also been heard on NPR’s “Performance Today” and Minnesota Public Radio’s “St. Paul Sunday Morning”. Among others, the New York Times has described him as “a sensitive pianist”, Clavier Magazine praised the “rare clarity and sweetness” of his playing, and the Springfield (MA.) Republican remarked that he “played with unaffected brilliance and profound understanding”. Pianist Michael Kieran Harvey, covering the 2000 Sydney International Piano Competition for Australian national radio, commented favorably on Mr. Hagle’s performance of Elliott Carter’s Piano Sonata.


Mr. Hagle is a dedicated teacher of piano, music theory, and composition, whose students have won high honors in local and national competitions and gone on to study music at the Juilliard School, New England Conservatory, and Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. He is currently on the faculty of the Music Institute of Chicago, where he is director of the Musicianship program in addition to his teaching duties. Previously, he taught at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, at Elmhurst College, and at the International Institute for Young Musicians at the Universities of Kansas and California at Santa Barbara. His own studies were with Robert Weirich and Donald Currier at the Peabody Conservatory, with Claude Frank at the Yale School of Music (where he received the DMA), and with Maria Curcio Diamand in London as a Fulbright Scholar. A comfortable speaker on diverse musical subjects, Mr. Hagle likes to use this ability to draw connections between very new and older music, or between music and other art forms. In his spare time he likes to read on a variety of subjects, to fail to learn Japanese, and to spend time with his two children.

Bio courtesy of the artist’s website.


Violin Sonata No. 2 in A Major, by Johannes Brahms
Allegro amabile
Andante tranquillo – Vivace – Andante – Vivace di più – Andante – Vivace
Allegretto grazioso (quasi andante)

Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, “Georges Enescu”, by Eugène Ysaÿe
Ballades; Lento multo sostenuto

Three Romances for Violin and Piano, by Clara Schumann
Andante molto
Leidenschaftlich schnell

Violin Sonata, by Richard Strauss
Allegro, ma non troppo
Improvisation: Andante cantabile
Finale: Andante – Allegro