Charles Castleman

Title/Position: Professor, Violin


When and why did you choose music as your career?
Classical recordings were always being played in my house. My first concert attended was the Boston Pops at age 2. I already had several favorites. I went backstage and met (and sang some favorite symphony melodies) for Arthur Fiedler. He became my mentor, advised me that when coordinated enough at age 3, I should start piano (to hear harmonically) along with violin, as most of my favorite melodies were from the violin section.

What musical performances…of your own, or another artist…stand out most in your memory, and why?
My first performance at age 4 at the MacDowell Artists Colony in Peterborough, NH.

My first National TV performance at age 10 with Jack Benny on the Frank Sinatra Show (currently viewable on YouTube).

A powerfully spacious performance by Josef Szigeti of unaccompanied Bach when I was at Harvard.

A performance of Brahms Concerto with the Harvard Orchestra standing among the pillars in the ruins at Chichen Itza in Mexico, age 20. 

My debut at age 22 playing Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in F# minor with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra; David and Igor Oistrakh and Henryk Szeryng came down from NYC to be there for my performance.

My performance in Alice Tully Hall in the early 1980s of the complete unaccompanied Ysaÿe Sonatas; it was the first such recital in New York City and The New York Times did a two-page spread on it in the Arts and Leisure section. For a short while after its publication, people recognized me in the street anywhere on the West Side of Manhattan.

My performance in Townsville, Australia in the 1990s with the Ukrainian National Orchestra for an audience of over 5,000 first-time concert attendees, as the Queensland Government had funded a $20 per family ticket price. The local TV news anchor was the emcee and the Australian Army supplied the cannons for a Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture performance by the orchestra.

A chamber music performance a few years ago in Christchurch, New Zealand, surprised by a 5.3 strength earthquake.

Who first inspired your love for playing chamber music?
Two amazing chamber music mentors:

Eugen Lehner, retired to the front of the Boston Symphony from the Kolisch Quartet which played the premiere of Bartók’s 5th Quartet by memory, along with the rest of their repertoire. He was founding coach of the Juilliard and Guarneri String Quartets. As a child, I had no close friends who played music; he was determined chamber music would be part of my background, and organized weekly sight-reading sessions for me along with his son, a cellist, who was also my age.

Josef Gingold, who coached me in 8-10 works over the summers during my teenage years, as well as teaching me all the Ysaÿe Sonatas, which he had studied with the composer.

What do you hope to pass on to your private students, and those that you coach in collaborative settings?
The understanding and necessary tools to express what is special about them, in tandem with what is special about each composition.

What might a student be surprised to learn about you?
Most of my interpretations are intuitive in origin. I use my knowledge, taste, etc. to comprehend why they do, or do not, work.

What is your favorite quote ABOUT you?
As a child prodigy, I was the subject of an Associated Press article. They interviewed one of my friends with whom I played baseball, basketball, hockey etc., who was the son of a shipyard worker. They asked him “What is Charlie like?” And after a pregnant silence he responded, “Just like everybody else.”

Short Bio:
Charles Castleman is the newly appointed professor of violin at the Frost School of Music, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida. He will teach as a visiting professor during the 2014-2015 academic year, then exclusively and full time at Frost beginning Fall 2015. He was professor of violin at the Eastman School of Music for four decades and department chair for eight years. He is perhaps the world’s most active performer and pedagogue on the violin today. He is also the founder and director of the prestigious Castleman Quartet Program, an intensive and extensive summer workshop in solo and chamber performance, now in its 46th year. A medalist at both the International “Tchaikovsky” and “Brussels” competitions, he has appeared as a featured soloist with the orchestras of Philadelphia, Boston, Brisbane, Chicago, Hong Kong, Moscow, Mexico City, New York, San Francisco, Seoul and Shanghai, to name a few. A beloved artist-teacher with thousands of former students around the world, he has conducted master classes in all major cities of Europe, the USA, Australia, Canada, China and more. As one of 16 Ford Foundation Concert Artists, he commissioned David Amram’s Violin Concerto and premiered it with Leonard Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony. His discography includes some of the most difficult works ever written for violin such as six Solo Sonatas by Ysaÿe, eight Csardases for Violin and Orchestra by Jenő Hubay and ten virtuoso cameos by Pablo de Sarasate, plus chamber music with acclaimed ensembles including the Raphael Trio. Charles Castleman earned degrees from Harvard University, Curtis Institute of Music, and the University of Pennsylvania. His teachers were Emanuel Ondricek and Ivan Galamian, his most influential coaches David Oistrakh, Henryk Szeryng, and Josef Gingold. He plays the “Marquis de Champeaux” Stradivarius and “Sammons” Goffriller from 1708, and chooses from over 80 bows.

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Contact Information:

  • Charles Castleman
  • Phone: (305) 284-6812
  • Email:
  • Office Location: PLF South 310

Mailing Address:

  • Frost School of Music
  • P.O. Box 248165
  • Coral Gables, FL 33124-7610

Courier Address:

  • Frost School of Music
  • Patricia Louise Frost Music Studios South
  • 5503 San Amaro Drive
  • P.L.F South 310
  • Coral Gables, FL 33146