Monday, July 13, 2009

Willy Hess

Willy Hess was a German violinist and teacher born on July 14, 1859 (Brahms was 26 years old.) He first studied with his father, who was a student of Louis Spohr, and later with Joseph Joachim. He was the concertmaster of the opera orchestra in Frankfurt from 1878 to 1886. Thereafter he taught violin at the Rotterdam Conservatory from 1886 to 1888. He then left to sit first chair in the Halle Orchestra (1888-1895.) From there, he went to the Cologne Conservatory (1895-1903.) For six years he was the concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (1904-1910.) While there, he also taught at Harvard University. In 1910, he moved back to Berlin to teach violin at the Hochschule (Academy for Music) after receiving an invitation some time in March of that year. Hess worked closely with composer Max Bruch for a time and even premiered some of his violin works. Adolf Busch, Henri Temianka, and Arthur Fiedler were among his many students. It has been said that Hess was a tall and slender man, in the style of Paganini. He also sometimes sported a beard. I have no photos of him, only his autograph, with a quote from the Beethoven violin concerto. Hess died in Berlin on the eve of World War Two - February 17, 1939.

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