"Music is my life!" says the Lithuanian-born violinist Julian Rachlin. "When I was small, it was always a dream of mine to travel the world and work with amazing musicians and orchestras. I am lucky to have that kind of life."
Mr. Rachlin, who spends some 280 days a year away from his adopted Austrian homeland performing around the globe, returns to Avery Fisher Hall (May 24-26) to play Saint-Saëns's Violin Concerto No. 3 with the New York Philharmonic, led by Lorin Maazel. Although a far cry from the Penderecki Violin Concerto No. 2, "Metamorphosen," which he played for his Philharmonic debut in April 2004, the Saint-Saëns is a sentimental choice. "I have childhood memories of this piece," he explains. "It was one of the very first concertos I played — it was with the Israel Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta in Israel. I was 14 or 15. That was the beginning of my career."
His highly charged career also got a major boost from Mr. Maazel, who hired him to debut at the Berlin Festival with the Orchestre National de France, and to tour Europe and Japan with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. "He was the first of the great conductors to take a risk with me — to risk playing with a 13-year-old to open the Berlin Festival," recalls Mr. Rachlin. "He was always there for the most significant tasks and big steps. He's my main mentor, a very significant man in my life."
Mr. Rachlin, a man of many passions, has become enamored of the viola over the last decade, inspired, he says, by his former teacher, Pinchas Zukerman. "I'm focusing a lot on performing big viola concertos," he says, noting that it is also a way of making music with his girlfriend, Dutch violinist Janine Jansen, with whom he shares a home in Vienna and who will make her New York Philharmonic debut in October. But he insists that his primary passion is the violin — along with lesser loves like reading, movies, tennis, watching soccer, socializing, and, more recently, cooking. "Tonight I'm cooking for friends," he laughs. "I'm making Wiener schnitzel. Janine wanted Wiener schnitzel!" And in what's left of his spare time he's getting his driver's license. "I'm 32 now," he jokes. "If not now, never!"
Lucy Kraus is a Publications Editor at the New York Philharmonic.