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Tibor Varga obituary


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GRIMISUAT, Switzerland (AP) - Tibor Varga, a conductor and violinist known for his teaching and for his performances of Bela Bartok and other modern masters, has died at 82, his wife said.

Varga died Thursday at his home in Grimisuat, Switzerland, said his wife, Angelika.

Varga was born in Hungary and made his public debut with Mendelsohn's E minor concerto when he was 10. He began touring in Europe while a teenager and studied in Budapest and in Berlin. After World War II he performed widely as a violin virtuoso.

In 1947 he moved to England, where he obtained British citizenship. He founded the Tibor Varga Chamber Orchestra in Detmold, Germany, in 1954, then moved to Switzerland, where he was based the rest of his life. He continued to conduct the Detmold-based orchestra until 1988.

Varga started a summer school in 1963 and organized the Tibor Varga Festival in Sion the following year. An annual violin competition is held in Sion, Switzerland in his honor.

His repertoire covered baroque, classical and romantic works, but he was best known for his performances of modern composers like Stravinsky, Schoenberg and Berg.

Varga is also survived by his son, Gilbert Varga, likewise an orchestral conductor, and his daughter, Suzanne Rybicki.

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I am very sorry to hear this. Varga was a great player, but sadly neglected by major recording companies. Tibor Varga Foundation has issued some of his recordings from various sources, but they are not very easy to obtain. They are really worth seeking.

Upon hearing this news, I listened to his recordings of the Tchaikovsky "Souvenir de Florence" and Schubert String Quintet. The Tchaikovsky is stunning, perhaps equalled only by the Heifetz-Piatigorsky recording and the Schubert is deeply felt. He was a very special player. We will miss him....


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I finally managed to read the full N Y Times obit and it gave some further information. One of the notable events was Varga's premiering of Jeno Hubay's 3rd violin concerto in 1937, just after Hubay's death. I am not familiar with this work but now will have to find it. Apparently Varga was taught within the Budapest school by Hubay's most accomplished proteges, as he was two generations removed from Hubay himself, and thus even a generation younger than Szigeti. I believe he was a direct heir of the tradition handed down via Vieuxtemps, who was Hubay's teacher. Another great loss from that wonderful tradition.

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