Friday, October 9, 2009

Carl Flesch

Carl Flesch was a Hungarian violinist and teacher born on October 9, 1873 (Brahms was 40 years old.) He is best known for his books on the art of violin playing, his methodical scale system (which is still in use today), and the international violin competition which bears his name. He began violin lessons at age 6 and by age 10, had started lessons with Adolf Back and Jacob Grun in Vienna (1883-1890). He entered the Paris Conservatory at age 17 and graduated with a first prize in 1894. From 1903 to 1908 he taught at the Amsterdam Conservatory. Many players who would later achieve world-wide recognition studied with him – Ivry Gitlis, Henryk Szeryng, Ginette Neveu, Eric Rosenblith, Roman Totenberg, Ida Haendel, Josef Hassid, Jean Laurent, Jacques Singer, Grigoras Dinicu, Charles Munch, Henri Temianka, Szymon Goldberg, Norbert Brainin, Alma Moodie, Dominique Blot, and others. Flesch toured the U.S. for the first time in 1914. He taught at the Curtis Institute (Philadelphia) from 1924 to 1928. Shortly thereafter he (and his family) settled in Berlin but was forced to leave in 1935. He then lived in London (1935), the Netherlands (1940), Hungary (1942), and finally, Switzerland (1943). The Carl Flesch Violin Competition was set up in his honor in 1945. It is known by a few that he had an intense dislike for Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman - I don't know the reason.  It has been said that he lost all his money in the U.S. stock market and had to sell his Brancaccio Stradivarius in 1928 to cover his financial needs. He also owned a Storioni, a Goffriller, and a Guadagnini, among many other instruments. He made very few recordings of major works but many of the small scale pieces he recorded are still available on CD – some are also on YouTube. Flesch died in Switzerland on November 14, 1944, at age 71.

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