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Ossy Renardy - one of the most outstanding .......

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Who could provide further information regarding Ossy Renardy (Oscar Reiss) who died tragically in an automobile accident on December 3rd 1953 at the age of 33 years. He studied with Theodore Pashkus in New York.

- recital or concert programmes ?

- articles, pictures, etc..

BTW- Who has his Decca (London) Recital with Ernest Lush piano ?

Regards, Michael

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Incredible !!!!!!

His Decca records are now available at Testament

Plz read this:

From its beginnings in 1928 until the second world war, The Decca Record Company was very much a fledgling enterprise, operating in the shadow of three long-established major labels - HMV, Columbia and Parlophone. In 1931 these separate enterprises came together as part of one company, Electric & Musical Industries Ltd. (EMI). During the war EMI's activities became pegged back through shortages of raw materials and loss of contact with its continental artists. Starting from a lower base, Decca suffered less at this time, and in fact received a major boost in 1944 through the development of its 'full frequency range recording' technique. This was originally developed by the company for use by the navy, so that the different sounds of enemy and British submarines could be demonstrated via recordings.

When hostilities came to an end EMI quickly sought to re-establish contact with its major European artists, and many new contracts were signed. Decca also sought to widen its scope of activities and secured the services of international artists such as Ernest Ansermet and Eduard van Beinum. But most of their London recordings featuring overseas performers were made on short-term contracts, for instance a brief 1946 series with Victor de Sabata and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and still more brief visits by such figures as Piero Coppola, Georges Enescu and the cellist Guilhermina Suggia. Aaron Copland even recorded his Four Piano Blues while passing through London.

Decca soon developed more lasting relationships with Ansermet's L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Van Beinum's Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Paris Conservatoire Orchestra. It was with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, conducted by Charles Münch, that Ossy Renardy made his first Decca recording, of the Brahms Violin Concerto, in June 1948.

Renardy was then 28 years old. He was born in Vienna and his real name was Oskar Reiss. He showed an early interest in the violin through hearing the playing of a neighbourhood friend, who gave him guidance in basic technique. Otherwise he was self-taught. He gave his first public performances at the age of 13, when he played in variety shows with a touring group in Italy. The manager of this enterprise suggested that the youngster would achieve greater success if he took an Italianate name. Under his new name Renardy did indeed play with some success in Italy before returning to Vienna in 1934. Over the next two years he played in many European centres, and when he visited Milan he was sponsored by Victor de Sabata.

In 1937 Renardy travelled to the USA, and after a tour of the mid-west states he made his New York debut at Town Hall in January 1938. He also made his first recordings at this time, for American Columbia. The repertoire included works by Corelli, Schubert and Dvorák. In 1940 Renardy played the 24 Paganini Caprices at Town Hall, and he then made the first complete recording of the set for Victor (with the Ferdinand David piano 'accompaniments'), using an instrument which Paganini himself had once owned. In that year and in 1941 he made a number of other Victor recordings, mostly of encore pieces. Given the fact that there were so many famous violinists in the USA at this time, and that he was only just into his twenties, it is remarkable that he made so many recordings. When America entered the second world war in 1941 Renardy enlisted in the US army, and he took American nationality in 1943.

After the war he resumed his career, but made no more recordings until he was taken up by Decca. It was slightly unusual in 1948 for the company to use an American artist, and it was more surprising still that Renardy should make his Decca debut in a big mainstream concerto. But in fact the company had few suitable violinists available for such a project. The most famous players ­ Menuhin, Heifetz, Szigeti among them ­ had remained loyal to EMI, Victor and American Columbia. The eminent German violinist Georg Kulenkampff had made a few post-war recordings for Decca, but he was now mortally ill. Alfredo Campoli, Max Rostal, Frederick Grinke and Ida Haendel had made some fine Decca recordings but all were regarded as artists with largely local reputations.

Renardy's recording of the Brahms Concerto was in fact a success, and was compared favourably with versions of the work by such artists as Ginette Neveu, Menuhin and Heifetz. But from now on all his Decca recordings would be of smaller-scale works, either played solo or with piano accompaniment.

The company's London studios were situated in Broadhurst Gardens, West Hampstead. The building had been converted from its original use as a town hall, and was not large: the main studio was only suitable for small-scale recordings ranging from a solo instrument to a chamber orchestra of up to 25 players. Recordings of larger ensembles made in London had to take place in outside venues, principally the Kingsway Hall, Holborn, or the Assembly Rooms, Walthamstow. It was in the West Hampstead studios that Renardy made all his Decca recordings after the Brahms Concerto. His first visit took place four months after the Brahms sessions, when on October 21, 22 and 25, 1948 he made recordings of eight pieces by Schubert, Paganini, Wieniawski, Novacek and Chaminade, all with Ernest Lush at the piano. None of these was published. Renardy did not return to Hampstead until June 1949, but this time it was a more successful visit. Sessions took place over four days, and of the 13 items recorded ten were eventually published. Four of these initially appeared on two 78s, and were later reissued with the other six to make up an LP recital. This was reviewed by Hubert Foss in The Gramophone of May 1951. He wrote, "Ossy Renardy gives a superb display of trick-cycling. Considering his material, he keeps his style wonderfully pure, seizing the mood or idea of each piece quickly and musically and expressing it sanely".

Renardy then turned his attention from short encore pieces to unaccompanied Bach. On May 25 and 26, 1950 he recorded the Solo Sonata No.3 in C, BWV1005. For the first time he had the luxury of recording on tape, with a view to having his performance issued on LP. In fact it was issued in both the old and new formats, on three auto-coupled 78s, and on a 25cm LP. In his December 1950 review of the 78s for The Gramophone Alec Robertson wrote, "Ossy Renardy plays the Largo beautifully, but in the other movements his tone is often rather acrid and his intonation not always impeccable". In his May 1951 review of the LP version Hubert Foss took no notice at all of his colleague's opinions, declaring in an enthusiastic notice that Renardy's "strong attack is so easy and never halting to the forward movement of the music, which he lays out well. His tone is full and rich but reasonably varied".

Renardy's final visit to West Hampstead took place in June 1951, when he recorded Bach's Solo Sonata No.1 in G minor, BWV1001. This was issued solely on a 25cm LP, reviewed in The Gramophone of January 1952 by W.R. Anderson, who found "a notably pure, virile performance, the full value of which the recording appears to have caught".

After this time Renardy was taken up by the American Remington company, for whom he made a re-recording of the Paganini Caprices, again in the version with piano, and a coupling of the Franck and Ravel sonatas, with the pianist Eugene List. It was not long after these sessions that he was killed in a car accident, on December 3, 1953. He was only 33 years old.

It is of course impossible to guess how his career would have developed had he been granted a normal life-span. That he was an elegant, poetic player, with a good, if not infallible technique, is apparent, and he was certainly anything but a high-powered virtuoso. His records are very much sought after by today's violin collectors, but as so often in the case of performers who died young, that interest may well be influenced by extra-musical considerations.

© Alan Sanders, 2003.

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