The only child of pianists Claude Frank and Lilian Kallir, violinist Pamela Frank has been recognized as one of the most stimulating violinists of her generation. In addition to solo appearances, she frequently performs in chamber settings and has often served as partner to her father in the violin sonata repertory. Other prominent artists, too, have been pleased to have Frank as a collaborator, both in the standard repertory and in works written by contemporary composers.
Reared in the home of two active musicians, Frank played chamber music with her parents, both there and later, in public. She later commented that she at first failed to realize that her parents made careers with their music; to young Pamela, playing seemed to have been done simply for fun. At age five, she began violin lessons with Shirley Givens and remained with her for 11 years before moving on to studies with Szymon Goldberg and Jaime Laredo. Her career was formally begun in 1985 with the first of four appearances at Carnegie Hall with the New York String Orchestra directed by Alexander Schneider. Her musical education took her to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where her father served as a faculty member. She won the Avery Fisher Career Grant the year before her graduation from Curtis in 1989. Once she left Curtis, Frank discovered plentiful performing opportunities. In addition to chamber music, she has given performances as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, the Czech Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Symphony, the Orchestre National de France, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, and the Orchestre de Paris. With three of these ensembles (Detroit, Cincinnati, and the Academy), she undertook extended tours of Europe. In the process, she played under the direction of such conductors as Wolfgang Sawallisch, David Zinman, Seiji Ozawa, Yuri Temirkanov, Leonard Slatkin, and Christoph von Dohnányi. Frank made her Carnegie Hall solo recital debut in 1995 and has performed at many of the world's leading festivals, among them at Aldeburgh, the Berlin Festival, the Verbier, the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York, Tanglewood, Ravinia, the Blossom Festival, and at the Hollywood Bowl. At the Edinburgh and Salzburg festivals, Frank has participated in chamber music events as she has at the Marlboro Festival. With the latter organization, she has also taken part in festival tours. Educational collaborations with the late Isaac Stern took her to Carnegie Hall and the Jerusalem Music Centre. Aside from her devotion to works of the standard repertory, Frank has taken up the cause of contemporary music, sparked perhaps by her work with pianist Peter Serkin. In 1997, during her annual tour of Japan, she performed with Serkin, clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma works by Toru Takemitsu at the Japanese composer's Tokyo City Opera. Frank was the first to perform (and subsequently record) two works by Aaron Jay Kernis: Lament and Prayers for Violin and Orchestra and Still Movement With Hymn, written for piano quartet. Among Frank's other recordings are her Beethoven sonatas recorded with her father, a disc of Czech works for Polygram, and a set of the Mozart concertos. A recording of the Brahms sonatas made with Serkin is remarkable for its headlong and rigorous approach.