At the age of two, Shaham moved with his parents from Illinois to Israel, where, at the age of seven, he began studies with Samuel Bernstein at the Rubin Academy of Music. Shortly thereafter, he was awarded the first of a series of annual scholarships granted through the American Israel Cultural Foundation. In 1981, he made debuts with both the Israel Philharmonic
and the Jerusalem Symphony. The following year, he placed first in the Claremont Competition in Israel and left to enter the Juilliard School of Music in New York as a scholarship student and, later, to attend Columbia University. Eight years later, in 1990, Shaham was given the Avery Fisher Career Grant, preparatory to embarkining on a performing career.
His relationship with Deutsche Grammophon has produced a number of distinguished recordings, two of them Grammy nominees and another (a solo disc with pianist André Previn) a Grammy winner. In September 1998, he undertook a tour of mainland China which included performances with principal orchestras in Beijing and Shanghai.
During the 1998-1999 season, Shaham participated in a two-week series of concerts by Pierre Boulez and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra devoted to the music of Béla Bartók. Resulting from this mini festival was a recording holding Bartók
's Violin Concerto No. 2 as well as the two Rhapsodies for Violin and Orchestra. For Deutsche Grammophon, Shaham has recorded the violin concertos of Bruch
, and Tchaikovsky
, with the late Giuseppe Sinopoli directing the New York Philharmonic and the Philharmonia Orchestra. His Grammy-nominated coupling of the Barber and Korngold
concertos was done in collaboration with André Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra, as was a disc offering the First and Second Prokofiev
concertos, also a Grammy nominee.
Among the composers represented on his solo discs are Elgar
, Kreisler, Ravel
, Schumann, and Strauss
. Best-selling collections have included Dvorák for Two, recorded with accompaniment by Shaham's sister, pianist Orli Shaham, and Paganini for Two performed with guitarist Göran Söllscher. Also achieving remarkable sales volume was a DG recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Shaham's Grammy-winning disc with pianist André Previn included a new sonata written by Previn
for his violinist collaborator. In the summer of 2001, Deutsche Grammophon released a recording featuring Gil Shaham performing John Williams' Violin Concerto with the composer conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Shaham settled in New York with his wife, the violinist Adele Anthony. The instrument he has played for his recordings and public performances is a Stradivarius, the 1699 "Countess Polignac." The artist's playing is marked by a warm, flowing tone allied with a strong and comprehensive technique. Shaham has continued to prove himself a violinist more concerned with musical values than with showmanship. His seriousness as a musician has made him a favored partner for many of the world's leading conductors, and other instrumentalists have been eager to collaborate with him in chamber music performances.