About violinists, violins, and the violence that occurs between the two.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Eduard Grach is a Russian violinist, teacher, and conductor born on December 19, 1930 (Heifetz was 29 years old.)He is considered Russia’s preeminent and most illustrious violin pedagogue – currently, head of the violin department at the Moscow (Tchaikovsky) Conservatory from which he graduated.Though he has traveled the world as a touring virtuoso, he has chosen to remain in Russia (as did David Oistrakh and Leonid Kogan before him) rather than emigrate, as so many other Russian artists have done.His first teachers (as a child in Odessa) were Veniamin Z. Mordkovich and Peter Stolyarsky – in fact, he was among Stolyarsky’s last pupils (Stolyarsky died in 1944.)At the Moscow Conservatory he was in Abram Yampolsky’s class.Nevertheless, he also studied with David Oistrakh after graduation. Between 1949 and 1962 he received first prizes in three international violin competitions – Bela Bartok (1949 – at age 19), Jacques Thibaud (1955), and Tchaikovsky (1962 – some sources say 1958.)He had by then already embarked on a concertizing and teaching career across Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and Asia. For a time, Grach was soloist of the State Philharmonic Society as well. Every top honor afforded the finest Russian artists has been bestowed on him, including the Order of National Merit. He has over 100 recordings to his credit (many of them live performances which have been highly praised), has premiered many contemporary works, has conducted master classes worldwide (including the U.S., China, and Israel), and judged in several international violin competitions (including the Paganini, Wieniawski, and Tchaikovsky), the latest being the First Buenos Aires International Violin Competition (July, 2010.) Many of his recordings are readily available on the internet.Along the way, Grach was named honorary professor of the Shanghai Conservatory too, though I do not know in what year. In 1990, he founded the Moscovia Chamber Orchestra; however, he had been conducting other ensembles since 1979.He has taken the Moscovia on tour to Germany, Greece, Cyprus, France, and China.(Some fascinating performances of the Moscovia are available on YouTube. It does not shy away from playing a very eclectic repertoire, from Bach to Rossini to popular Argentine tangos.)In 1996, he organized the Yampolsky International Violin Competition and has been its President several times. There are many videos of his playing on YouTube and a magnificent interview of him on Blip.tv (if you speak Russian, I recommend it.)