Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ottokar Novacek

Ottokar Novacek (Ottokar Eugen Novacek) was a Czech (some would say Hungarian) violinist and composer born on May 13, 1866. He is best known for his Perpetual Motion for violin and piano (or orchestra). He studied first with his father (Martin Novacek) then with Jacob Dont, Henry Schradieck, and Adolf Brodsky. He played in the Gewandhaus Orchestra (Leipzig) and in the Brodsky Quartet (second violin and later, viola). When he came to the U.S., he played in the Boston Symphony (1891). In 1892, he was appointed Principal violist in the New York Symphony under Walter Damrosch. An illness forced him to soon retire and devote himself to composition. His works include a piano concerto, three string quartets, and many other pieces for violin and piano which are seldom played. There are many videos of different world famous violinists playing his Perpetual Motion on YouTube. One of them (with Nathan Milstein) is here. Novacek died (in New York City) on February 3, 1900, at age 33. 

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