Sunday, December 6, 2009

Erick Friedman

Erick Friedman (Eric Friedman) was an American violinist and teacher born on August 16, 1939 (Heifetz was 38 years old.) He is mostly remembered for being Jascha Heifetz' favorite pupil. He began to study violin at age 6 with his father, an amateur violinist. A little later on, he studied with Samuel Applebaum. At age 10, he enrolled at the Juilliard School of Music (New York) where he studied with Ivan Galamian for six years. From age 14, he also studied with Nathan Milstein. It was also at age 14 that he made his New York debut. In 1959 (some sources say 1957), against the advice of his concert manager (Arthur Judson), he interrupted his concertizing career to study with Jascha Heifetz at the University of Southern California. After three years with Heifetz, he successfully re-started his world-wide concert career. By then, he had already made his most famous recording - the Bach Double Violin Concerto, with Heifetz as collaborator (1961.) It has been said that this is the only recording Heifetz ever shared with any other violinist. Some say that he developed a sound very similar to Heifetz' sound. You can judge for yourself here.  It is a recording of the Mendelssohn concerto.  Without any real need to boost his career and against the advice of Heifetz (but with plenty of prompting from David Oistrakh), Friedman entered the 1966 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Although he came in SIXTH place, his career did not seem to suffer from this apparently orchestrated setback - Friedman continued to concertize and record for the next 20 years or so. It has been said that Oistrakh engineered Friedman's low placement so as to embarrass Heifetz (who was still considered a defector from Russia), and to advance his own son's career - Igor Oistrakh's concert career, that is. Due to an auto accident in the late 1980s, which injured his left arm, Friedman gave up playing in public. After a long five-year recuperation, he returned to the stage five years later.  He took a permanent teaching position at Yale University in 1989, although he had also taught at the Manhattan School of Music, at Southern Methodist University, and at the North Carolina School of the Arts prior to this. Among many other works, he recorded the Tchaikovsky concerto three times - 1962, 1978, and 1997. He also regularly conducted various chamber groups and adjudicated at several international violin competitions. Among other violins, he played the Ludwig Stradivarius (1724.) Friedman taught at Yale up until one week before he died, March 30, 2004, at age 64.

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