María Dueñas

‘Have The Will To Be Inspired’

Young Spanish violinist María Dueñas is taking the classical music world by storm. Not even 20 years old, she has already performed with orchestras including the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia, the San Francisco Symphony and Luxembourg Philharmonie.

Édouard Lalo: Symphonie Espagnole

María Dueñas

María Dueñas © David Ausserhoffer

María is studying under Boris Kuschnir at Vienna’s Music and Arts University, and recently won both first prize and the audience prize at the 2021 Yehudi Menuhin Violin Competition. Upcoming engagements include performances with the Mozarteum Salzburg Orchestra, Danish Symphony Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Pittsburgh Symphony. I chat to her about her childhood in her native Grenada, her inspirations, and why Paganini is misunderstood…

What inspired you to take up your instrument?

Listening to music all the time and attending concerts at my home city made me aware of the violin. Taking up any new thing is just a matter of being exposed to it, otherwise there is no chance. Fortunately I grew up in a family where music was always essential.

María Dueñas

© Pablo Rodríguez OSG

What inspired you to become a professional?

My mother had old vinyls of the great violin masters – Menuhin, Heifetz and David Oistrach were always my favourite ones. I spent hours listening to them and could just dream of becoming a violinist myself.

Who inspires you now?

I feel really inspired by my Professor Boris Kuschnir, for his unending love for music and wish to try something new each day. This urge to look for something beautiful in every note and in life itself is really rewarding.

Another inspiring force is my family. The most important lesson I learnt from my parents is “never give up”, even though when the roof seems as if it’s going to fall on you!

Which composer[s] do you feel the most comfortable with?

María Dueñas

© Tam Lan Truong

I love challenges and for me, one of the most challenging composers of all times has been Niccolò Paganini: challenging not only in the sense of the technical complexity his works demand, but in the sense of being able to combine technique with an expressive force. From my point of view, that is the key point to understanding the most of Paganini’s corpus. It’s not just about pyrotechnics but also about giving a sense to all this world of resources he exploited like no other composer in order to convey a message. His music is exuberant and vibrant, full of life and wit. I think Paganini is misunderstood in many cases and neglected to “just” technique.

Niccolò Paganini: Caprice No. 4

Is there any repertoire you haven’t performed yet that you would like to in the future?

María Dueñas

© Rafa Martín

Of course, the violin repertoire is so extensive! I look forward to the premiere of Gabriela Ortiz´s Violin Concerto which we will do next year together with Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel. It is very special to have the chance to exchange ideas with the composer; that is never the case with the standard repertoire!

Do you find inspiration from things other than music?

Every little thing matters, not just in music but also in life. A talk with a good friend, a landscape, a beautiful bunch of flowers, a painting, a hug… inspiration can be everywhere and in everything, you just need to have the will to be inspired, to be curious, to learn new things, to take into account new perspectives.

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Bach: Fugue from Violin sonata in G minor BWV 1001

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  1. What a wonderful young woman. I just saw her dazzling performance of Paganini No 1 in D. FORZA!!
    Hopefully she will consider recording the works of Sarasate as well. Given the strife of the world the last two years María is a much needed and welcomed change. God bless her.

    1. Yes, my dear friend. In Andalusía flamenco performers call it duende. My grandparents called that kind of inefable thing,
      ‘ tener ángel’…María Dueñas is definitely a superb artist ‘que tiene ángel’.

  2. Yes just listened to Maria’s sibelius. Beautiful playing. Best new violinist I’ve heard for a very long time. We are lucky, and take care of her!

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