Jump to content
Maestronet Forums

Heifetz's Bow


Phoebe.R
 Share

Recommended Posts

I was reading recently in an old strad magazine about an auction of Heifetz's possessions which took place shortly after he died. It was noted that several of his bows were bequeathed to former students, and some were sold, but there was no mention of the former Heifetz bow that Maxim Vengerov uses. I am wondering if any of the people on this board know its origins, when it was made and by whom, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

HKV--

I have noticed your repeated assertions that so-called "modern violinists" attack their instruments with greater vigor, nay, ferocity, than was true in the good old days when giants walked the earth.

What do you base this on? After all, concertizing violinists are still playing the very same instruments that their counterparts were playing over a century ago. They are still playing, by and large, in the same halls. And--alas-- they are still playing largely the same repertoire.

The task, then as now, is to make oneself heard. What leads you to believe that the task was accomplished any differently back oin the good old days?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Vengerov, Markov, and the other students of Zakhar Bron -- and indeed, a lot of Soviet-trained violinists post-Oistrakh -- have an extraordinarily aggressive playing style that sets them apart from their contemporaries. HKV has postulated in another thread that this comes from a childhood spent trying to force sound out of inferior student instruments, which might very well be true.

A recent article in Strings (or was it the Strad?) has a Vengerov quote that implies that because of his recent attempts to play Baroque music using a period set-up, he's acquired more refined control of his bow arm, so clearly Vengerov sees some of this as a deficiency.

Are the other modern players significantly more aggressive than their counterparts from earlier in the last century? I'm not convinced of this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The primary bow that Jascha Heifetz used was a KITTEL. I have personally examined and played it. It's a great bow. It is now with a collector in San Franciso,California who takes very good care of it. Of course some bow makers were always wanting to present their work to Heifetz during his career in order to embellish their own reputation however he rarely if ever used those.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ms. Leong:

I question whether it is correct to say that the students of Zakhar Bron have an unusually aggressive style of playing. I have heard Vadim Repin--one of Bron's finest products-- in person a number of times. "Aggressive" is not a word I would use to describe his playing.

Nor, I think, is it plausible to suggest that a "lot of Soviet-trained violinists post-Oistrakh" are unusually forceful in their playing. Would you, for example, include Gidon Kremer in that category? I hope not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello Mr. Benning,

That Hill bow you mentioned was a very nice example. When I was at Heifetz's estate auction in 1989 there were a few other nice bows also.I was bidding on a Peccatte bow and I ended up buying an early concert poster that Heifetz had in his studio announcing a concert in Odessa when he was 10 years old.

Sincerely,

Jay Ifshin

Link to comment
Share on other sites

quote:

Originally posted by Ole Bull:

I've heard that it was rather light but stiff - is this true?

As for this ridiculous "modern" notion- are we to believe that the likes of Ysaye and Kreisler played without significant bow pressure? Rubbish, I say! I'm sure they flexed the most out of their bows, as any decent player will.

According to Carl Flesch, Kreisler indeed used a lot of bow pressure and played close to the bridge, as well as preferred shorter, incisive strokes.

Bronislaw Huberman, Adolf Busch, Joseph Szigeti, Franz von Vecsay and Vasa Prihoda can sound pretty aggressive. They certainly were not afraid of making "scratch" on purpose if the music required some brio. I also think HKV is overgeneralizing the "modern" notion a bit.

Respectfully,

Toscha

Link to comment
Share on other sites

LISTEN to today's recordings and WATCH the videos.

It's obvious that today's players hack much harder than yesteryear's do.

Don't forget that we have synthetic strings that stand up to more abuse - which means in more damage to both violin AND bow.

Sure, Kreisler abused his instruments. On the other hand, we have numerous examples of older generation violinists who didn't (Rosand, Heifetz, Kubelik, etc. . . )

Another thing is that today's modern violinist is used to hearing overmiked violin playing (even by the Kreislers and Ysayes). Hence they try to reproduce that sound - at the expense of the instrument.

And if you have to "flex out" your bow any more than a pencil's width between stick and hair to be a "decent player", then you better relearn how to play the violin.

[This message has been edited by HuangKaiVun (edited 11-10-2000).]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Phoebe,

Back to the original question...It was Herbert Axelrod, Heifetz's biographer who was given the bow by Heifetz and told to "give it to the right guy". And he gave it to Vengerov. I have a feeling it was a Hill bow, not the Kittel, but I have no idea where I got that from, I could be wrong. I would think Heifetz had a lot of bows, but Vengerov certainly professes to use the one he was given. (He says with Kreutzer's Strad and Heifetz's bow any mistakes must be Vengerov's wink.gif )

A search on the internet for Mr Axelrod only seems to reveal his other great love, tropical fish!

He did seem to acquire a number of great stringed instruments and bows in his life, a collector rather than a player, I believe. There is the "Axelrod quartet" in some museum somewhere (can't remember where now) which is a quartet of Strads which are occasionally brought out to be played.

If I get chance when I see Maxim in December I'll ask him laugh.gif

BTW I saw Vadim Repin in Paris on Wednesday night, and he was very gentle with the Ruby, not too much digging in at all. Beautiful!

Jane

Link to comment
Share on other sites

quote:

Originally posted by HuangKaiVun:

And if you have to "flex out" your bow any more than a pencil's width between stick and hair to be a "decent player", then you better relearn how to play the violin.

[This message has been edited by HuangKaiVun (edited 11-10-2000).]

I remember a masterclass given by the great English violinist Emanuel Hurwitz (who by the way is quite a collector of fine bows). In studying the staccato stroke, he advocated pressing the bow to such an extent that the wood goes through the hair.

I think good bow should withstand this kind of "abuse" - are there any bow experts out there who can confirm this?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

quote:

Originally posted by Lydia Leong:

...A recent article in Strings (or was it the Strad?) has a Vengerov quote that implies that because of his recent attempts to play Baroque music using a period set-up, he's acquired more refined control of his bow arm, so clearly Vengerov sees some of this as a deficiency.

Let us hope that playing a wimpy baroque setup does not refine too much Vengerov's great bow arm! ;-)

Vengerov IS the right one. Also, I doubt that heifetz played lightly. Just listen t his recordings and filter out the "overmiking" It is still very forceful and intense sound.

-sm

Link to comment
Share on other sites

sm--

You are absolutely right. As a college boy I had the chance to hear Heifetz play the Beethoven concerto in Boston. I was sitting close to the stage, and I was surprised at how rough he was with his fiddle, particularly in the cadenzas. Chords were hammered out with attacks that pressed his instrument to its limits.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am not sure if good bows "should" withstand that type of abuse, though in my experience they can.

I would NEVER do a staccato like that in the pieces I play (e.g. Hora Staccato, Kreutzer #4, etc. . . )

I say that because if I forced that much, I'd be unable to pull off a decent staccato at a rapid enough speed. But Hurwitz is Hurwitz, and HKV is HKV.

I mentioned videos and recordings because that's all many of us have of the old masters. I agree 100% that performers live are different than in recordings. Still, one can easily see/hear how much more forceful modern violinists are.

Hence I hope Vengerov utilizes the stuff he learned from that "wimpy baroque setup" - one day, he'll hopefully pass that bow on to someone else.

As far as Heifetz goes, I'd imagine that he often played very hard. But I couldn't imagine him GRINDING and HACKING the way so many modern players do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

K545,

I have never seen Repin play, and I've only heard a minimal amount of him on record, so I can't comment on it.

However, I don't think you can deny that both Vengerov and Markov (and Barachovsky as well, I believe, from what I've read) are very aggressive players. Vengerov has broken bows -- that's no small amount of force he's using. The number of bow hairs he breaks in performance is testament to this, as well.

When I mentioned Soviet-trained violinists, I was speaking of more than just the famous soloists. This has been my observation of many (but not all) of the Soviet-trained violinists I've met in the past, including a group of students from Soviet conservatories that I encountered in a youth orchestra exchange program.

I have nothing against Vengerov, by the way; he's among my favorite young players.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now I have a better 'idea' of Maxim's bow, and I certainly opened up a 'pandora's box' about how he uses it!! Just recently when I saw him perform in Sydney - on both his Strad and his baroque violin - I felt very strongly that all the power of his sound was drawn out of the violin very gently, NEVER forced. His bowing arm and hand are extremely flexible, and in the gentle passages the tone was incredibly rich and sweet, with none of the rough, narrow sounds that usually happen when the volume is aquired by force. (Sarah Chang is someone who I think sounds forceful and aggressive.)

Lydia, I was sitting about 3-4 metres away from him in the Tchaikovsky concerto, and I never heard harsh sounds and broken bow hair.

I have never heard the story that Maxim breaks bows from the harshness of his playing! He tells the story that he used to stick his bow between his father's legs and break it, but it was a temper tantrum not his playing (I'm sure he has grown out of those childish fits of temper now). He speaks with reverence of Jasha's bow, so we can be sure he will treasure it and take care of it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But how can this be? We have it on very good authority (HKV) that Vengerov is one of those harsh "Modern" players who substitute force for technique.

I'm also confused because I did not see Repin break any bow hairs, either. I guess these two must have an inside line on super-strong Siberian horse hair.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now I am so confused... I just recalled having seen Zimmerman break hairs playing Mozart... non-agressive, playful and and soft toned Zimmerman... I demand an explanation! wink.gif

I would guess no one really bashes his bow, they rather just use it as needed for the musical piece in performance.

Maybe we are trying to come up with a definition of "modern" violin playing based on a quantitative, mechanical model of the bow-string relation?

Perharps a better perspective would be to asses differences in style, like the use of glissandi, portato, vibrato, and other style issues... For instance, Corelli (to name one) wrote very few markings in his manuscripts, leaving the interpretation to the performer. So, if you are playing "La folia", should you play the first allegro passage detache, martele or spicatto? or maybe legato... I have heard different approaches, which is correct? I am sure that a modern violinist like Kremer or Accardo, would not play it the same way Thibaud or Kreisler would have played it.

I am sure Simon Standage would approach Corelli's music in yet a different way...

And what about Fabio Biondi... Is he a modern violinist?

enjoy,

-sm

[This message has been edited by sm (edited 11-13-2000).]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess it "can be" - Lydia is saying the exact same thing I am.

Besides, anybody who plays the solo repertoire knows that just because scratches aren't being heard and hairs aren't being broken doesn't mean that the bow isn't being battered.

One can get a wondrous projection and sweetness WITHOUT battering one's bow - in fact, I now believe that you CAN'T get an optimal projection by beating up one's bow/violin.

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...