Thursday, March 3, 2011

Eugene Fodor and Fate

Eugene Fodor died young, at age sixty, on a Saturday in late February, 2011.  Perhaps he wanted it this way – the end of what was to have been a great life, from beginning to end.  Eugene Fodor was a great violinist who somehow lost control of himself and his career.  You can read about it here among many other places.  With his credentials, he could have gone anywhere and he did, but only for a time.  Many doors were closed on him for reasons which are not completely understandable – was he black-listed, did his agents let him down, did he antagonize conductors or orchestra managers, did composers not want him playing their works, or was he just simply irresponsible and difficult and not able to cope with the pressures of concert life?  Only those close to him know.  Ever so slowly, though his playing remained brilliant, his engagements got less frequent and less sparkling.  Margalit Fox, in her magnificent New York Times obituary, quotes Susan Davis (Fodor’s widow): “Last year, in despair over his career, he stopped playing the violin entirely.  It was too painful for him.  He felt like his career had been ripped from him, and he didn’t have the great venues to play in anymore. and it just crushed him.”  Ripped from him by whom?  Fate?  The same Fate that brought Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Bizet, Van Gogh, Franz Clement, Joseph Hassid, Guila Bustabo, Toscha Seidel, and Michael Rabin down?  Mozart would have to be the prime example of someone whose unimaginable genius and earthly rewards were as far apart as could be, whose economic status did not come even a little close to matching what he gave the world.  His must have been a frustration beyond imagining.  It’s as if Fate says “this far and no farther.”  Did Fodor have enemies?  Why were the big, important orchestras not calling him?  Only those closest to him know the answer.  Fodor had drug and alcohol addiction problems on and off.  Apparently, even close friends and family could not intervene for his benefit.  Should they blame themselves for not doing more?  Why?  There have been other concert violinists with the same problems and they did not just give up.  Their careers did not suffer.  Henryk Szeryng comes to mind – it is common knowledge that he drank quite heavily, even right before concerts.  It is rumored that Nigel Kennedy has had drug problems, too, and he seems to be doing just fine.  Other concert artists have gone into decline, accepted it, and just moved on, playing music festivals far and wide, founding chamber orchestras, taking up conducting, taking up full-time teaching, starting private academies and so on.  (They are too numerous to mention.  It happens, even in the natural course of getting old.)  For some reason, Fodor could not bring himself to do any of those things.  Only those closest to him know why.  According to some sources, he got ill last summer and seemingly, just decided to die. 

6 comments:

  1. I have no idea if EF decided to die, or if his career was indeed ripped from him. I suspect
    that the truth lies somewhere in between these extreme ends. He slipped away from being RCA's golden boy as Classical sales dropped beginning in the late 1980s coinciding with his reported drug problems. It seems to me he was a mercurial being who could not thrive out of the limelight. So, he withered into a shadow of what he/we thought his presence should be. However, he will always be a childhood hero to me - a kid from Colorado with divine gifts who charmed the Soviet audience in Moscow in 1974 as best as could be imagined. His Paganini still has no equal.
    Some of the brightest candles are not meant to burn too long.

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    1. Indeed, indeed. Very well put. Thanks for your wonderful comment.

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  2. Addiction is a horrible disease that, really, only those affected by it, could truly understand the almost absolute impossibility of it. Society has only just begun to deal with addiction as a disease. God only knows what Eugene and his family had to go through. He was truly a great violinist and a wonderful person, and I'm devastated by his early death.

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    1. MJT, I was also saddened by the news. One of my teachers was close to him in the early years.

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  3. Addiction....... is a fatal disease that does not discriminate . It has one major goal and that is to put one 6 feet under ground. Some end up in jails and institutions but there is hope for people that want to get better. It is called recovery . It is only a daily reprieve . One day at a time.

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