Jump to content
Maestronet Forums

Heifetz' Violin


marufi
 Share

Recommended Posts

""" Also, I believe this was the same violin that was hacked up to meet Itzhak Perlman's standards for a single peformance-- as I recall, they had the neck lengthened, which entailed regrafting the scroll. As a result, Heifetz wouldn't even recognize it. When the San Francisco Orchesta is done, they'll think up something else to do with it, I'm sure. """

If so, then a great deal of historical importance is already lost. I never felt that Perlman was the greatest intellectual in the world, let alone violinist, but that he would permit this is either shear stupidity or shear hubris. What a shame. Now it will be very difficult to understand for anyone in the future to know what Heifetz felt playing it. (Perhaps certain things played differently) I also understood that at one point, it had an unusually high bridge. Guess Jascha was a dumb-sh** who did not know any better.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 63
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Another interesting aspect is these two lines in the decision allowing the loan:

WHEREAS, The violin was played approximately eighteen times in the following twelve years; and

WHEREAS, The Museums are committed to preserving the integrity of the violin, which in the opinions of some conservators of such instruments, improves with more frequent use;

In my opinion as a player, the sound of the violin does develop and change with playing. But I think this has to do with the tonal adjustments of the instrument (something that has to be studied of course) based on the individual player's style. I doubt that the Heifetz del gesu will develop in a more positive fashion in the hands of others, though it may 'open up' and become more resonant if it has not been played for a long time.

That, in my opinion, does nothing for 'preserving' the violin or keeping its integrity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting--I always find myself on the opposite side of this type of question from players. When it's a really fine example of a violin and should be preserved in a museum, players seem to collect and scream bloody murder, that it deserves to be played: "it's a *musical*instrument*, and needs to be heard!!!", they say.

Now, when it's an issue of a not particularly outstanding example of the maker's work, they want it in a museum. My feeling is that if he'd wanted it preserved with status as a quasi-religious relic of his life, he should have given it to a church, after starting his own, of course.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just for completeness, this violin was discussed here last year. The thread was "Heifetz' del Gesu/ neck replaced" (6/17/03).

Michael, you know from my questions in the past that I'm not a player or a maker, nor likely to be one. But I am an avid museum goer. Museums are a great place for beautiful instruments from history -- not all of them, for sure, but can't we just have a couple? The Smithsonian collection is closed. The Library of Congress is not very accessible. Musicians already have access to all the good instruments in both those collections. Otherwise, the New York Metropolitan is too dark to see, the National Music Museum in South Dakota may as well be in Antartica, and I don't know anywhere I can go to see such instruments in this country.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Michael, maybe he wanted it preserved, all of it including the neck. Did you ever find a justification for grafting a new neck?

I did not see the previous thread and had not heard about a neck replacement. But what do you really think? Is the burden on Heifetz to have created his own church and donated it to that? Can't he reasonably assume that the museum would have preserved it intact?

And nobody commented on my parallel with the Paganini Cannone. Is there anyone here who think Paganini's violin is more special than Heifetz's? Or that Paganini was a more significant person in the history of the violin? (Ok, I admit it. I believe that Paganini's style would have been different, but Heifetz could have much more easily immitated Paganini than vice versa. Furthermore, it is hard to imagine Paganini being Heifetz's equal in any respect.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rich--sure I love to see violins in museums. I especially want to see the *best* violins saved, and be visible to everyone, and I'd prefer to save the museum vs players face-off for the most special stuff. I don't care, though, if a violin in a museum isn't the best of its type. Your particular problem isn't with saving them, though, it's with access, and I agree, if they have them, it would be nice if they showed them. And I think museums should have more of them, chosen from the best examples, not because the best players played them. It's the violin that's there, after all, not the ghost of Heifetz. If it's Heifetz you want, crank up the stereo. :-)

John, no I don't think the Heifetz violin holds a candle to the "Cannone", which really is one of the very best del Gesus, no matter how you measure it.

I think we have a confusion here between museums and shrines. :-) Is the object in Sar Francisco a violin, or a fetish object for players? Perhaps they don't even know, given where they decided to put it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quote:

""" Also, I believe this was the same violin that was hacked up to meet Itzhak Perlman's standards for a single peformance-- as I recall, they had the neck lengthened, which entailed regrafting the scroll. As a result, Heifetz wouldn't even recognize it. When the San Francisco Orchesta is done, they'll think up something else to do with it, I'm sure. """

If so, then a great deal of historical importance is already lost. I never felt that Perlman was the greatest intellectual in the world, let alone violinist, but that he would permit this is either shear stupidity or shear hubris. What a shame. Now it will be very difficult to understand for anyone in the future to know what Heifetz felt playing it. (Perhaps certain things played differently) I also understood that at one point, it had an unusually high bridge. Guess Jascha was a dumb-sh** who did not know any better.


I do appreciate how frankly you've spoken. I guess you have shown how strongly the way some of us feel. It is shamefull how badly historical archive has been mis-mannaged. In my opinion, Heifetz's violin should have been managed exactly the way his will was written, not the wordsmithing by the lawyers to serve some special interest group.

If it was true that this violin has been altered to please some ego centrical musician, then Heifetz should be turning in his grave. And you are right about Itzhak Perlman, nice man, but not much of a violinist. I have once attended one of his concert, nothing but a one big lullaby.

In term of who get to play Heifetz's violin, i have a big problem with this SF orchestra concert master. When Heifetz wrote his will to allow some special playing even, i'm pretty sure he did not mean this j---off. I can think of many great musicians whose deserve to play this violin than our buddy. What make some of us frustrated is the wheeling and dealing behind the close door, with the lawyers and these rich snobs on the board in SF. If anybody ever been at the Davis hall in SF, you would find out that this place is huge, more for symphony music, not for solo concert. Only these rich snobs whose pratically own all the good seats in this music hall. They are the one, whose perhaps, can be benefit and hear the different of a good sounding violin. For the rest of us who's lucky to get a balcony seat, a chinese violin sounds just fine, thank you very much...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I see this issue as:

1. the museum having been, by the will of Hiefetz, entrusted with the violin to carefully display it to the public

2. occassionally also have the public _hear_ it -- perhaps for the good of the public (after all, that's the function of a violin) or for the good of the violin.

The museum, on the other hand, has turned this trust and spirit of the will backwards, making the violin (the trust) serve the museum's purpose (enhance it's own chamber music program).

Regardless of whether it is _in general_ better to keep a piece of art in a display case or whether to have it used (likely shortening it's lifetime) is a separate matter.

It's also admirable that they're trying to promote chamber music. But again, that's not the present issue.

In the case of the del Gesu, they're misusing the trust.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quote:

...

In term of who get to play Heifetz's violin, i have a big problem with this SF orchestra concert master. When Heifetz wrote his will to allow some special playing even, i'm pretty sure he did not mean this j---off. ...


So Alexander Barantschik is j---off is he? I assume of course you've met the man? No? Hmmm, know his biography and abilities? No? Or perhaps you're just another ill-informed mouth on the net?

You might at least like to read up a little more on Mr Barantschik before you describe him in such glowing terms. Mind you, I'm sure he just loves you as well.

Also if you'd read the thread you would have noticed that it wasn't Mr Barantschik who negotiated the loan but rather the SFSO and Museum, so abusing the player makes you look just a tad silly.

For what it's worth, I've seen Mr Barantschik perform with the violin a number of times now - both as Concertmaster and as a soloist (Beethoven's Triple Concerto) - and I think he does a fine job.

It's also worth remembering this isn't the Muckindilla Community Orchestra we're talking about here, but rather one of the world's great orchestras. Personally, I'd much rather hear the damn violin played as frequently as it is, by a fine player in a fine orchestra, than have it locked in a glass cabinet as some fetish object for instument perves. A violin such as this was never built just to be looked at - ever!

Neil

Link to comment
Share on other sites

(Hard for me to express my dislike for your arrogant little smily faces :-)

""" And I think museums should have more of them, chosen from the best examples, not because the best players played them. It's the violin that's there, after all, not the ghost of Heifetz. If it's Heifetz you want, crank up the stereo. :-) """

This point is exactly incorrect in my view, and perhaps I can elaborate below. Even you verify that the 'Cannone' is a superior instrument. Then, even more remarkable are Heiftez's achievements. If the superiority of the 'Canonne' is so, perhaps it would not have been a great loss to the San Francisco symphony if the Heifetz violin had remained (inviolate) in the museum. If Perlman could not play it as is, why modify it ? Are you trying to tell me Heifetz could not adjust to Perlman's violin? Perlman should have played it warts and all..... we could then hear what Perlman could do with a strange violin. If Perlman was the genius he is paid to be, he should have done well.

""" John, no I don't think the Heifetz violin holds a candle to the "Cannone", which really is one of the very best del Gesus, no matter how you measure it. """

I will accept your viewpoint on the merits of the two violins, 100%. It reinforces my argument above.

The real issue is, "Did Paganini hold a candle to Heifetz ?" ( I say NO). I think that it would have been valuable to retain the violin intact to see what it really was that Heifetz dealt with. It is not a question of wanting Heifetz enshrined. Do you say, "To hell with other players who may want to feel the very violin (Misadusted, and with a short neck, presumably)." I guess it is not an issue for you. It is for me, because I play violin. You do not. You are an acknowledged violin-making expert by many, I have not played your work (and I don't much care how it looks, we are talking sound, here}. But I certainly cannot see you as a lover of fiddle playing ......... Let me SCREAM it loud and clear.......... Heifetz is the onliest one who did not sound like a guy playing the violin....... it was a VOICE. And from the soul of a Gypsy in the body of a rather emotionally-repressed man.

I really don't understand your attitude on the point of the presevervation of this violin. You made a point before that seemed to be critical of some kind of perservation wax used by museums. (I don't know a thing about this wax.) Personally, as to preserving the physical violins, I could not give a sh**. I will own neither one. I do not need to see the varnish of them either. Neither do you. You admit to having problems with color, which means you have trouble with varnish, period.

""" I think we have a confusion here between museums and shrines. :-) Is the object in Sar Francisco a violin, or a fetish object for players? Perhaps they don't even know, given where they decided to put it. """

I think you are absolutely correct. That was pretty poor judgement. I think that Mr. Heifetz may have been naive (as I see him in many social situations) and the executors were not hard-hitting experts in legal matters. That does not excuse what later happened.

The object in the museum is not a fetish object or a violin or anything other than part of the legal estate of Mr. Joseph Heifetz of Beverly Hills, California. In my opinion, the museum violated its legal trust as fiduciary, and the estate should be prodded to look into this. Perhaps I will make this my personal mission. The hacking off a neck by even Carl Becker would have been butchery from the standpoint of historical importance. We are not talking guitar.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Michael - I think you miss the aim of museums - sure they like to have excellent examples of objects in their collections but their main concern is with objects of cultural significance. "Provenance" is the key word. Given a choice between the best baseball bat ever made and the bat used by Babe Ruth to hit his last home run, they will go for the Babe Ruth bat every time.

And since we have raised the ghost of the Cannon (and in defence of museums) I will quote John Dilworth (Strad June 1999): "Up until fairly recently anything that exceeded the sacred Stradivari measurements was seen as fair game. As a result we have been deprived of hearing the true Guarneri voice from all but a few survivors, of which this is the prime example. Had it not been kept in a museum for the last 150 years, even this would have gone too"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So Alexander Barantschik is j---off is he? I assume of course you've met the man? No? Hmmm, know his biography and abilities? No? Or perhaps you're just another ill-informed mouth on the net?

Neil


Hi Neil,

Thanks for the link to your J---off friend. Guess what? Not much to write home about!

Now that i am informed, i would like re-instate my point. Who give the right to this nobody? whose exclusively hogging this beautiful instrument from the will of, in my opinion, a genius of all time, Heifetz? I happen to agree with Jmasters and with his permission i quote: "Heifetz is the onliest one who did not sound like a guy playing the violin....... it was a VOICE. And from the soul of a Gypsy in the body of a rather emotionally-repressed man."

So, as far as i am concern, your buddy, mister concert master has no business laying his hand on Heifetz's violin. He does not fit to hold Heifetz's candle, let alone playing his violin. Your friend is just "another man" playing violin!!

You said that it was the SFOS whose did the negotiation for him to play Heifetz's violin--of course they did! they did it for him!!I am sure that it was a package deal, which is exactly what i was talking about--the dirty wheeling and dealing behind the door. This violin should only be reserve for special guest soloists, and i can give you a long list of guest soloists before it gets to your friend, mister concert master.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm so impressed with this discussion! I personally believe that without doubt, Heifetz brought more to the world of violin playing, in a completely inimitable way, than any other.

I feel it is completely shameful, what has happened with this violin. I'd also like to remind everyone that most will not have the same understanding of the significance of the violin which belonged to Heifetz as those who truly understand and appreciate what that man did with it!

Here is my hope:

If there is a desire to begin some form of a signed petition to express this opinion or to at least let it be known, I would urge everyone interested to do so.

I'm not sure what would be the best way....perhaps a signed email which could be passed around like a petition and then sent off? Perhaps individual emails sent to the museum or to the symphony? Any ideas?

Thanks!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Certainly sounds like the object of this thread is a fetish and not a violin.

1) the bequest was made to a museum, certainly with some understanding that the museum would interpret (as do all such custodians) the meaning of the will.

2) seems to me the museum sought legal counsel and a court order to verify that their interpretation was justifiable.

3) it seems like magical thinking to suppose that somehow keeping the violin precisely as it was in the master hands would somehow pass on to others what it was that Heifetz felt. Setting aside that every setup, every bridge, every set of strings would change the feel... every set of hands would change the nature of the relation. I mean, I suppose it's arrogance of the first order on Perlman's part to insist on a new neck before deigning to play it... but who hear knows the facts of that?

4) Even the Cannone has left it's shrine recently. And in the hands of a FEMALE JAZZ MUSICIAN (gasp). And American at that. And crossed the Atlantic, no?

5) seems to me we shouldn't be speaking of "Heifetz' Violin." This is a Guarnari that Heifetz played. Sure, there's provenancial interest in that. But it's still an object that del Gesu made, and we would revere it for that fact alone. What happened to the idea that each great player is only the custodian of these great fiddles and feels a responsibility to preserve them for succeeding generations.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The flip side to all this is that the marketing will turn out to be beneficial for the SFO. If audiences would rather see the ghost of heifetz in a museum than pay living and breathing musicians for their effort, then I think that taking the museum to the concert hall might not be that bad an idea. Given the state of Orchestral purses at the moment it's clear why they did it.

I think there are better ways they could have handled it, but perhaps the 'task force' couldn't reach a decision on the best way to safely organise performances.. and in the meantime Barantschik's head is in close proximity, so he has both his cushy tenure and his pretty neck as incentive. I'm sure they have plenty of sentiment, but primarly the instrument is an asset and their priority will be using that asset in a joint venture to generate revenue for both parties.

""" 2) seems to me the museum sought legal counsel and a court order to verify that their interpretation was justifiable. """

Seems to me someone objected, and they knew they were skating on thin ice with regards to the interpretation of the will.

'David' , Perlman, and a man in a coat.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good to see you prove my initial guess. Got to love those who feel so free about abusing someone they've never even met and know nothing about.

Oh and for what it's worth, I've never met the man either, but at least I have some manners and don't attempt to judge his personality based on total ignorance.

As I said, I'd much rather see the concertmaster of the SFSO playing the instrument than have it sitting behind glass in some museum just to be looked at.

Neil

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quote:

Seems to me someone objected, and they knew they were skating on thin ice with regards to the interpretation of the will.


You base this supposition on what, precisely?

Even if someone, as in your scenario, objected, certainly you cannot say they violated the will if they sought judicial oversight and confirmation. The ruling isn't invalid simply because you disagree with it.

Oh. And for all the Devotees of the Fetish, I find it interesting. Heifetz himself didn't think of the fiddle as particularly important to his VOICE. The story is told many times by fans (curious they've left it out of this thread): "Mr. Heifetz, your violin sounded so wonderful tonight," says lady. Heifetz holds the violin up to his hear. "Funny, don't hear a thing."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Oh. And for all the Devotees of the Fetish, I find it interesting. Heifetz himself didn't think of the fiddle as particularly important to his VOICE. The story is told many times by fans (curious they've left it out of this thread): "Mr. Heifetz, your violin sounded so wonderful tonight," says lady. Heifetz holds the violin up to his hear. "Funny, don't hear a thing."

Ah, there is that story of Fritz Kreisler, who played a wonderful concert, and after the frenetic applause just broke the fiddle over his knee - it was a $60 wallhanger he had bought just because he was fed up of all the critiques writing about the wonderful tone of his Strad instead of the wonderful tone _he_ produced.

And a famous violinist (don't recall who) was asked to play a violin which was for sale. He asked "shall I play it for _buying_ or for _selling_?".

Nothing will bring Heifetz back. Not his violin, not even his recordings. What _will_ keep him present for a long time is, what extremely gifted younger violinists learned from him _and developed further_. And the next generation will learn end develop from these and so on...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What I meant to say about the significance of Heifetz was not so directly connected to the violin. The violin is an artifact. Some say "fetish." What I meant was this:

The museum should preserve a link to the past. That is the purpose it serves. I don't expect that a future player would know what Heifetz felt about the music even if such a player were to play the violin. I simply meant that the nature of the "misadjustments" themselves is a curiosity which might interest people in the future. Now these are gone... That is really my only point. And I have also heard the joke about "funny, I don't hear anything."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quote:

You base this supposition on what, precisely?


It's speculation, but an educated guess.

If the deal satisfied the conditions of Heifetz' bequest beyond doubt, there would have been no need to seek a court order. Things go to court when questions are raised, and judging by the comments on the thread it's an issue which illicits emotional responses and raises questions. If everyone here has strong opinions about it, then it follows members of the board would have a similar response.

If they didn't, then phooey on the board.

The issue isn't whether Barantschik is fit to use the instrument - he most likely is - but whether it is right for him to have exclusive access to it. There is also the question of whether his access is too much, and whether Heifetz' intention was for preservation or for use, or for both...

The conservator's argument is the same as the greenie's argument. If you have 10 trees in the woods, and you cut them down at a rate of 2 a year, then after three years people scream blue murder because less than half the trees are left. If you then halve the rate the trees are felled, then you have 4 years left to harvest the trees. No matter how much you do the math, eventually there are no trees. For the sake of 'enjoying' the use of the trees for 4 years, the prospect of new trees disapears. If you preserve half of the trees such that they may never be cut down, and use the other half to manage new growth forests, you wind up with 5 old growth trees for study, preservation and cultivation, and 5 to cut down at your whim. Pulp the 5 in one year and you may spend several years without harvestable trees, but the 5 old growth trees remain constant.

Relatively few of these instruments are in the care of museums... so it follows that every museum that has a fine instrument of historical value in their care has an obligation to preserve it - simply because those who own them who are not in museums have no such obligation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quote:

Relatively few of these instruments are in the care of museums... so it follows that every museum that has a fine instrument of historical value in their care has an obligation to preserve it - simply because those who own them who are not in museums have no such obligation.


Maybe not, but they have a compelling financial interest to do so, which is probably more powerful when all is said and done than a simple legal obligation.

Did anyone ever watch the TV series Northern Exposure, back when? This thread makes me think of the episode where Maurice decides to buy a Guarneri for investment purposes. He flies in a young hotshot violinist to test it out, to verify that he's not purchasing a dud. The violinist plays it, declares it magnificent, and falls in love with it on the spot. His discovery that Maurice plans to lock the violin away in a safe, and not make it available for playing, drives him over the edge and he ultimately ends up in the state mental institution. I can see it happening, I can...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's a case of half-empty, half-full. You see the fact that they sought counsel/court order is in itself proof of the fact that they violated the intention of the will; I see it as a sign they were attempting to insure they were not.

Of course there were those on a museum board who wanted the fiddle kept in a glass case. I'm sure there were others who wanted to loan it to the highest bidder.

He doesn't have "exclusive" access: 1) it's a three year trial 2) it must return to the museum every summer for minimum of 8 weeks.

Clearly Heifetz intention was for both preservation and use.

"Relatively few of these instruments are in the care of museums... so it follows that every museum that has a fine instrument of historical value in their care has an obligation to preserve it..."

It doesn't follow at all. That is, there is no logical necessity for the second part of your argument to follow from the first. The scarcity of fiddles in museums does not determine the obligation of the museum to care for the fiddles. False syllogism.

Also, "...simply because those who own them who are not in museums have no such obligation [to care for the violins]..." what a strange argument. The vast majority of great fiddles have been in private hands for the last 300 years. We wouldn't have them had it not been for players and collectors taking care, to the best of their knowledge (and that of luthiers at the time).

As for what this particular object IS: is the link to the past hear (which JM speaks of) a link to the 20th Century (Heifetz) or to the 17th (del Gesu). When a museum takes great pains to preserve and present La Primavera, it isn't preserving a link to Lorenzo de Medici (at least not exclusively to him) but primarily to Botticelli. The maker of the object. In this case the maker is del Gesu, not Heifetz.

And I think do little attention is being paid to the nature of this artifact. A painting (or even a tomb sculpture) can be enjoyed and appreciated according to it's primary purpose outside of it's original context -- that is, La Primavera in a museum instead of de Medici's son's bedroom. But a fiddle's primary purpose is to make music. So to enjoy it outside of that context -- as an artifact of Heifetz life, as a link to the past, as an example of lutherie -- is always, it seems to me, limited.

The exceptions (the Messiah and the Cannone) are given privileged status -- the one because of it's pristine condition, the other because of it's value. Neither conditions obtain with this fiddle.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

... half empty? Perhaps, I realise I have a cynical view.

I also realise that these instruments have been in private hands for centuries, but as with the forests there comes a time when preservation must override the desire to consume, and for the most part private collectors' motivations are for preserving the value of the instrument, not the actual instrument - as is evidenced by 300 years of modifications. In 200 years, would you prefer that only the Messiah and the Cannon be preserved, and the rest reduced to piles of sawdust, or that as many as possible be preserved at their various stages of modification or restoration?

One of the things which enahnces the art of violin making is the ability to study originals (or as close as we can currently get). If they're consumed, they're gone - and a photocopy of a photocopy of a source is nothing like the source.

If you believe that private collectors have an obligation to preserve, then I have a genuine true cross of christ to sell you. I'm not saying all collectors are butchers, it's just a cynical approach erring on the side of caution.

What exactly the 'David' represents is probably both - i.e. the partnership between Heifetz and the instrument, a sum greater than the parts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quote:

for the most part private collectors' motivations are for preserving the value of the instrument, not the actual instrument - as is evidenced by 300 years of modifications.


That might have been true in the past, but the climate has changed. These days, authenticity commands the highest prices, and anyone with an eye toward preserving the value of an instrument will go to great lengths to maintain the authenticity and condition.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...