Sunday, July 5, 2009

Jan Kubelik

Jan Kubelík was a Czech violinist and composer born on July 5, 1880 (Brahms was 47 years old.) His first lessons were with his father, who was an amateur violinist. At age 8, he entered the Prague Conservatory where he studied with Otakar Sevcik. He began concertizing ten years later (1898), the same year he graduated from the Conservatory. Along with Joseph Joachim and Pablo De Sarasate, he was one of the first violinists to be recorded in the early 1900s. Following debuts in Vienna and London in 1900 and 1901, he toured the U.S. for the first time in 1901, starting out in Carnegie Hall on December 2, 1901. At that first U.S. concert, Kubelik was criticized for being a mere showman. However, he enjoyed great financial success everywhere he went. He was a society darling and was already wealthy in his mid-twenties. Carl Sandburg even titled a poem after him. In the latter part of his career, he played the Emperor Stradivarius (1715.) In 1903, Kubelik married Countess Marianne Czáky Szell and eventually became the father of (among others) conductor Rafael Kubelik. As late as 1930, he was still being hailed as the best-known name in the violinist world. Kubelík also wrote music, including six violin concertos which are now never played, and cadenzas for the violin concertos of Brahms, Beethoven, Paganini, and Mozart. A number of his recordings are posted on YouTube. Jan Kubelík died in Prague on December 5, 1940, having never actually retired.

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