About violinists, violins, and the violence that occurs between the two.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Max Rostal was an Austrian violinist, arranger, and teacher born (in Teschen) on July 7, 1905 (Heifetz was four years old.) He is not particularly well-known for anything other than that he had a long teaching career and was under-rated as a violinist. He began his violin studies at age 5. He began playing in public from age 6 (1911.) From the age of 8, after arriving in Vienna, one of his teachers was Arnold Rose, concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic for many years. (When Fritz Kreisler - as a teenager - applied to the Vienna Philharmonic, it was Arnold Rose who turned him down.) In 1920, his mother took Rostal to Berlin, along with his siblings. There, he took private lessons with Carl Flesch, when Flesch was still teaching there. According to at least one source, Rostal was often compared to Bronislaw Huberman, Fritz Kreisler, and Eugene Ysaye. Rostal made his formal debut in Berlin on February 3, 1923. He was 17 years old. Although he played pieces by Reger, Vivaldi, Dvorak, and Paganini, the main work on the program was the violin concerto by Alexander Glazunov. In 1925, he won the Mendelssohn Scholarship. Another obscure violinist who won this prize was Leonora Jackson in 1897. In 1926, Rostal moved to Vienna, where he made a living mostly by giving private lessons. In 1927, he was offered the position of concertmaster of the Oslo Philharmonic. In 1928, he returned to Berlin to become assistant to Carl Flesch at the Berlin Music Academy. From 1930 to 1933 he taught at the Advanced School for Music in Berlin. Rostal organized the Rostal String Quartet in 1930. The quartet enjoyed great success for the duration of its existence (three years.) In April of 1933, he was dismissed from his teaching position and subsequently (in 1934) moved to England, where he established himself, primarily as a teacher. From 1944 to 1958, he taught at the Guildhall School of Music in London and played many concerts broadcast over the BBC. He then taught in Cologne (Germany) from 1957 to 1982. Simultaneously, he was a violin teacher at the Conservatory in Bern, Switzerland (1958-1985.) Several recordings of his are posted on YouTube and it is said that his few recordings are now treasured by collectors. Many critics have also said that he had a very individual style. He was especially praised for his interpretation of Bartok’s second concerto (as is Silvia Marcovici nowadays) and was known to champion contemporary music. Rostal premiered Alan Bush’s violin concerto in 1949, a work which has not been heard from since. He also edited quite a few works for violin and wrote a method book as well. These works can easily be found on the internet. A violin (and viola) competition (begun in Bern in 1991 and now held in Berlin) is named after him. In 1944, Rostal was instrumental in organizing the Carl Flesch violin competition (which ran from 1945 until 1992. Raymond Cohen was the first winner of that competition.) Among his pupils were Sergiu Luca, Norbert Brainin, Yfrah Neaman, Edith Peinemann, and Igor Ozim. His Guarnerius del Gesu is now owned by the Stradivari Society (Chicago, USA.) Max Rostal died in Switzerland on August 6, 1991, at age 86.