Hilary Hahn began playing the violin before her fourth birthday and soon began studies on the instrument via the Suzuki method. She took lessons from Russian émigré Klara Berkovich (1984-1989), and from 1990 studied violin at the Curtis Institute under Jascha Brodsky.
In 1991 Hahn debuted with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and by the mid-'90s had appeared with the Philadelphia, Cleveland, New York Philharmonic, and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras. In addition, she had debuted in Europe (1995), with Maazel and the Bavarian RSO, playing the Beethoven violin concerto.
Though she could have graduated at 16, Hahn stayed on at Curtis for additional courses and graduated at 19 (1999). By then she had made two recordings under her exclusive contract for Sony, Hilary Hahn plays Bach, and the Beethoven violin concerto and Bernstein Serenade, both critical and commercial successes.
In 2003 Hahn signed a recording contract with DG, and her first album, Bach Concertos, again was devoted to her favorite composer. In 2005 Hahn branched out into crossover music in a series of concerts with American singer/songwriter Tom Brosseau. Two years later she appeared in concert in crossover fare once again, this time with Josh Ritter, also a popular American singer/songwriter. In 2009, Hahn commissioned a concerto from Jennifer Higdon, which earned the composer a Pulitzer Prize in 2010. Hahn then began In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores, commissioning pieces from a variety of composers to use on tours through the 2012-2013 season.