Monday, February 22, 2010

Albert Sammons

Albert Edward Sammons was an English violinist, teacher, and composer born on February 23, 1886 (Brahms was 53 years old.) As had Alfredo Campoli, Vasa Prihoda, Grigoras Dinicu, Louis Krasner, Jacques Thibaud, and Geza Legocky, he was not above playing in hotels and dance halls in his early days. He also premiered no fewer than 6 string quartets, 9 violin sonatas, and 4 violin concertos. He first began violin lessons with his father at age 7. As a young teenager, he studied briefly with Alfredo Fernandez, an obscure Spanish violinist who had studied with Ysaye. Other than that, he taught himself to play. By age 12, he was already playing professionally in a band. He also left school at that time. He made his solo debut with orchestra in 1906 playing the Mendelssohn Concerto. He was twenty years old. He was playing popular music with Ernesto Bucalossi’s orchestra at the Waldorf when he was discovered by conductor Thomas Beecham who invited him to join his orchestra as concertmaster. He formed the London String Quartet in 1910. In 1921, he founded the Chamber Music Players with cellist Lauri Kennedy, Nigel Kennedy’s grandfather. During the formation of the BBC Symphony (1929), he heard, along with Lionel Tertis (violist), over 1000 string auditions. Sammons made the first complete recording of the Elgar Concerto in 1929. He later said he played the concerto at least a hundred times during his career, the last time on February 23, 1946. From 1939 onward, he taught at the Royal College of Music. He also published books of exercises and studies which are now largely forgotten. Due to an illness which made it impossible for him to play, he retired in 1948. He was 62 years old. He died on August 24, 1957, at age 71.

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