Classical music’s most extreme hipster reinvents himself with a striking new stage name.
He already had an exotic, double-barrelled name that wouldn’t seem out of place alongside Björk, Madonna, Rihanna or Lady Gaga – and a daring performance style and aesthetic to match. But the classical chameleon formerly known as Hahn-Bin has changed his name to Amadeus Leopold in a bid to pay tribute to his violin idols.
“Amadeus Leopold is the name I have chosen for my American citizenship, while Hahn-Bin is my given Korean name,” the New Yorker explained.
A kind of David Bowie of the classical music world and an underground fashion icon, the 25-year-old told Limelight that his new stage name reflects his “marriage and commitment to the new golden era of music – one where there is no boundary between what is classical and what is pop.
“We are very near that golden era of music; one that is reminiscent of the days when Liszt and Kreisler, Rachmaninov and Mozart himself, were the rockstars of their day. My role in this world is to embody the renaissance of classical music itself; I wanted to make that message clear to the world.”
Following in the footsteps of singer and entertainer Engelbert Humperdinck (born Arnold George Dorsey), who looked to a German opera composer for his eccentric moniker, the violinist has combined the names of two generations of Mozart who excelled on the instrument: Leopold wrote violin treatises and taught his son, the child prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus.
The “Leopold” component, he added, also serves as a mark of respect to the great Hungarian virtuoso Leopold Auer (1845–1930): “for me, without Leopold Auer I don’t think we would have the violin playing that we hear these days and the kind of playing I strive for every day of my life. So it’s a tribute to the two most important Leopold figures in my life.”
Far from a gimmick, Amadeus Leopold insists that the name change carries “spiritual significance” for him. Previously seen in concert as Hahn-Bin with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in 2008 while still a student at Juilliard under Itzhak Perlman, he will make his first Australian appearance in this new incarnation on October 17 as part of the Melbourne Festival.