Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Albert Markov

Albert Markov is a Russian (Ukrainian) violinist, composer, pedagogue, and conductor born on May 8, 1933 (Heifetz was 32 years old.)  He occupies a place in the musical firmament which is unique in the 20th and 21st centuries – he is the only concert violinist who is also a composer of major works and concertos.  Not since Emile Sauret (1852-1920), Jeno Hubay (1858-1937), and Albert Spalding (1888-1953) did any violinist of international stature produce not only symphonic works, but violin concertos which he himself performed, in keeping with a longstanding tradition which included Tartini, Vivaldi, Paganini, Spohr, Viotti, Wieniawski, Vieuxtemps, DeBeriot, Chevalier DeSaint George, and Joseph Joachim.  Of course, Eugene Ysaye, Pablo Sarasate, Kreisler, Milstein, Heifetz and others wrote or arranged many recital pieces or cadenzas but it stopped there – no operas, symphonies, tone poems, rhapsodies, or concertos came from their pens.  In addition, not since David Oistrakh and Leonid Kogan, has a concert violinist produced a son who is also a concert violinist, in this case, Alexander Markov.  (In fact, Alexander Markov has never had a teacher besides his father.  Zino Francescatti and Daniel Barenboim also never studied with anyone other than their father.)  He began his violin studies as a child but by age ten he was studying with Jacob Meksin and the legendary pedagogue, Peter Stolyarsky.  Composition he studied with Henrich Litinsky and Aram Khachaturian.  He graduated from the Gnessin Academy in Moscow in 1960.  By then, he had already won the Gold Medal at the Queen Elizabeth (Belgium) Violin Competition (1959) and gold medals at other European and Russian competitions (1957-1964.)  He concertized extensively in Russia and Europe from that point forward.  A highlight of one of his European tours was an appearance with Rostropovitch (cellist) in Holland in 1964 with Khachaturian conducting.  From 1960 to 1975, he was a soloist with the Moscow State Philharmonic as well as a professor at the Gnessin Academy in Moscow.  In December of 1975 he came to the U.S.  His U.S. debut on May 24, 1976 was memorable and unusual because it was not in New York but in Houston (Eddy Brown’s U.S. debut was in Indianapolis, Isaac Stern’s in San Francisco, Iso Briselli’s in Philadelphia), where he played Paganini’s second violin concerto (b minor.)  (He later recorded this concerto with the Moscow Radio Orchestra, Rozhdestvensky conducting – very likely the best recording of this work in existence.)  His Carnegie Hall debut came later and, from that point, Markov’s concertizing became international in scope.  In 1977 he was appointed to the faculty of the Mannes College of Music (New York), where he stayed until 1979.  In 1981 he began to teach at the Manhattan School of Music (where he still teaches) and from 2007 has also taught at the Long Island Conservatory.  Markov has also served on the juries of the Tchaikovsky and the Paganini Violin Competitions and led many music festivals and master classes around the world.  In May of 1994, Markov embarked on a tour of Russia after an absence of almost twenty years.  In 1999, he formed the Rondo Chamber Orchestra, based in Bennington, Vermont, which he has conducted ever since.  His recordings are on the Melodia, Sunrise, Musical Heritage Society, and RMS labels.  Most of his prolific output has been published by Muzyka and Kompositor in Russia as well as Schirmer’s and RMS in the U.S.  His violin method book, Violin Technique is also available worldwide.  It has been said (by Bernard Holland of the New York Times) that Markov's pedagogy “avoids the traditional teaching of hand positions and fingerings on the violin….  Markov also breaks the art of bowing into three basic positions - another departure from ordinary teaching practices.”  There are many videos of his playing on YouTube and several audio recordings on the Classical Connect website as well.  Markov’s instruments have included a Stradivarius, an Antonio Gagliano, and a Sergio Peresson (based in Philadelphia, Peresson is considered to be the world’s best violin maker of the modern era - he was in so much demand he had to stop taking orders for new instruments in 1982.)  Markov’s compositions include two operas, a violin concerto, a Suite for violin and orchestra, a symphony, 3 Rhapsodies for violin and orchestra, a string quartet, 2 sonatas for solo violin, various works for two violins, 9 works for violin and piano, vocal works, piano pieces, works for viola, at least 20 cadenzas for various violin concertos (including those of Paganini, Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms), and no fewer than 70 arrangements of works by various composers.

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