Saturday, August 15, 2009

Albert Spalding

Albert Spalding was an American violinist, composer, writer, and teacher born (in Chicago) on August 15, 1888 (Brahms was 55 years old.) Aside from being a superlative virtuoso, he is remembered for many different things. Spalding was an early recording pioneer, playing for over 100 recordings, mostly for the Edison Company. He was also a member of the armed forces twice – during World War One and World War Two, serving in what today would be known as the Intelligence branches. Spalding premiered Barber’s violin concerto (February, 1941) when the violinist who commissioned it (Iso Briselli) refused to play it. He wrote two violin concertos (among other things), though they are no longer played. In the 1920s, he was one of the first to play classical music concerts on the radio. His uncle was a Hall-of-Fame baseball player (pitcher) who began a world famous sporting goods company. Spalding began his violin studies at age 7. His first lessons were in Florence, Italy. He also studied in New York, Paris, and Bologna. At the age of 14, he received his degree and title of Professor of Music from the Bologna Conservatory. He made his public debut in Paris at age 16 (1906) with the third Saint Saens Concerto. He then appeared in London and Vienna. On November 8, 1908, he made his American debut in New York (with the New York Symphony.) In 1909, he toured the U.S. with the Dresden Philharmonic. He was 21 years old.  From that point forward – except for the two breaks taken to serve during World Wars One and Two - he concertized throughout the world. Spalding retired in May of 1950, just after having played with the New York Philharmonic for an audience of 20,000 in New York. He taught at Boston College and Florida State University. Spalding also wrote his autobiography (1946) and a novel (1953.) He died unexpectedly in New York on May 26, 1953, at the age of 64.

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