Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ivan Galamian

Ivan Galamian (Ivan Alexander Galamian) was an Armenian violinist and teacher (some sources say Persian because he was born in Iran) born on January 23, 1903 - some sources say February 25 and others say February 5 - (Heifetz was 2 years old.)  He is remembered as one of the best violin teachers of the 20th Century – an institution at the Juilliard School (New York.)  As a young man, Galamian studied at the School of the Philharmonic Society with Konstantin Mostras, in Moscow, where he resided with his family from infancy.  It is said he also studied with Julius Conus.  Conus taught in Moscow until 1919, so that is entirely possible. Galamian graduated from the school in 1919, at age 16, and began playing in the opera orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre.  In 1922, he moved to France where he studied further with Lucien Capet in Paris (1922-1923.)  He made his Paris debut on May 5, 1924 although he played another recital there on December 24, 1926 which is also called his debut recital.  It has been widely reported that he suffered from an incapacitating but undefined nervous condition (possibly stage fright) and soon gave up his dream of a concertizing career – unlike Ruggiero Ricci who never experienced nervousness when playing.  From 1925 until 1929 he taught at the Russian Conservatory in Paris while still performing occasionally.  Even at this early stage of his teaching career, he produced a special student in the person of Vida Reynolds, the first woman to play with the first violins of the Philadelphia Orchestra.  Galamian came to the U.S. in 1937, where he remained for the rest of his life.  While setting up a private studio in New York City he also taught at the Henry Street Settlement House there.  He was hired by Efrem Zimbalist – via a recommendation by Zino Francescatti - to teach at the Curtis Institute (1944) and then was also offered a similar post at Juilliard (1946 – some sources say 1948.)  In 1944 he founded the Meadowmount Music School (Westport, New York) which operated during summer months – a sort of intense music camp which became very successful.  Galamian had hundreds of students and therefore used more than half a dozen teaching assistants – Dorothy DeLay and Robert Lipsett among them.  (In 1970, he and Dorothy DeLay acrimoniously parted ways because of a difference of opinion regarding teaching approaches and he refused to speak to her for the remainder of his life.  He also tried to get her fired from Juilliard – unsuccessfully.)  It has been said that due to his authoritarian methods all his pupils sound the same – unlike Leopold Auer’s.  In 1962, Galamian published two books on violin technique which are still in print.  He also edited many standard works for violin.  As far as I know, he never recorded anything commercially.  Among Galamian’s famous pupils are Michael Rabin, Pinchas Zukerman, Eugene Fodor, Tigran Vardanyan, Hyman Bress, Simon Standage, Stuart Canin, Linda Rose, and Ani Kavafian.  Galamian taught until the day he died, April 14, 1981, at age 78.

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