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My Photo of --- Mischa Elman


zongora
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Hi,

Though I’m not a violinist, but a pianist, I used to go around many years ago and photograph famous artists. This shot was of the famous violinist Mischa Elman playing the Tchaikowsky Violin Concerto. It was taken during a rehearsal at the Lewisohn Stadium in New York on July 27, 1959, way back when it was still in existence as part of the City College of New York. It has long since been torn down to make room for additional campus buildings. The conductor is Joseph Krips.

Elman was born in Tolna, a village near Kiev in 1891, and died in the U.S. in 1967. Was a student of Leopold Auer, and is basically remembered for his superb dark, mellow tone. Was friends with Caruso and made a number of recordings together.

Thought some of you might like to see it.

elman%20no.2%20krips%20at%20ls%207-27-59.jpg

Zongora

Note,

This photo is protected by copyright.

COPR.ZONGORA

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Incredible indeed! It was said of him that he planned his bow usage down to the last millimeter.

It was also said of him (by Jascha Heifetz) that his entire repertoire could be written down in two lines.

Assuming both these stories to be true, is there perhaps a connection?

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A phenomenal violinist, was Mischa Elman. The last of the Romantics. Nobody illustrious plays quite like him anymore; indeed, a consequence of perfectionists like Heifetz and Milstein. He was, judging by biographical and personal first-hand accounts, also an immensely nice person and a very good friend. Diabolical opposite of Heifetz, did someone say? Yes indeed!

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Keith,

There clearly was only one Elman (and given the musical distorions in his playing, particularly in his later years) many would say that that's a good thing. But there were many other romantic players with much better musicianship who outlived Elman. Alfredo Campoli and Ida Haendel to name only two.

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to hear Ida Haendel in a major recital and a day later in the Beethoven Concerto. She admits to being 78 but is probably in her early 80's and she is still a phenomenal violinist. I believe it is she who is the last of the romantics.

As to personality, the accounts I have heard and read of Elman are very different from yours. My information is that he had an enormous ego, was extraordinarily arrogant and almost insanely jealous of other top violinists. The author of a recent biography of Efrem Zimbalist writes: "Mischa Elman's once-magic name had lost a good deal of its luster; its diminishing impact hurt both his career and his ego, and his ongoing battles with managers, recording companies and critics were legendary".

Ron

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rcmacd- I too love Ida Haendel's playing, however Elman was truly one of a kind. Nobody before him played that way, and to try and imitate his style is utterly impossible. I see him as an inspired maveric, who thought nothing of breaking the rules and changing the music to suit his needs.Listening to him is never ever boring. As an example, he had a habit of coming in a fraction of a beat before the piano in the last movement of the Handel E major sonata. I asked his accompanist, Joseph Seiger, about this when I was doing a Masters at Manhattan School of Music. Seiger made a bit of a face and muttered "he always had to be first..."

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One other little thing- Joseph Seiger was quite fanatical about playing absolutely rhythmically, with very little rubato. In fact one's grade in his chamber music class depended on observing this rule to the letter. How he and Elman worked together all those years is beyond me. Mr. Seiger did not much like being asked about it!

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Larry,

Thank you for this interesting information. Early in my studies I went through an "Elman phase". I was absolutely mesmerized by his wonderful sound which unfortunately I heard only from recordings. At that time, I couldn't understand why my teacher was upset by my predilection for his recordings but now it is obvious to me. I still find his earlier recordings wonderful. I often wondered about Seiger too--he follows Elman so obediently. It must have been difficult.

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Seeing all the love here for Elman, perhaps I've come to the right place!

I also mentioned this in another post, while I have to admit I haven't heard enough of Elman to base personal judgement of his playing, every short video/audio clip I've heard is unbearable. Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately the one thing in common is that they are all recorded in his later years.

Does anyone have recommendations of some real good ELman performances, decent quality recordings and hopefully with good intonation, that you can suggest I try. Don't want to waste money on any sloppy later work of his. Thanks.

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Still remarkably good--perhaps not quite what she was in her prime but fine playing by any standard. She was guest soloist with the Montreal Symphony last year and one of my former students (now a performance major at McGill Univ.) was not impressed. However, he accompanied me to Halifax to hear her recently and this time he too was bowled over. And the repertoire was nothing to sneeze at: Bramhms 1st Sonata, Bach Chaconne, Bartok Rumanian Dances, Wieniawski Polonaise Brillante plus encores!

The Beethoven Cto. was superb! I don't know whether her career constitutes a record or not. I recall Joseph Fuchs did a recital at age 90 and Louis Persinger at about the same age. However, they did not have the big solo careers that Haendel did.

Ron

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