Arthur Hartmann (Arthur Hartman or Arthur Martinus Hartmann) was a Hungarian (some would say American) violinist, teacher, composer, and writer, born (in Philadelphia) on July 23, 1881. He was a rather enigmatic, romantic, and restless figure in the world of music during the turn of the twentieth century. He is best known today for having transcribed a work by Claude Debussy which almost all concert violinists play – The Girl with the Flaxen Hair - a piece which Jascha Heifetz made famous and recorded at least four times, the first time when he was 26 years old. Hartmann was a child prodigy and first performed in Philadelphia when he was six years old (1887.) His first teacher was his father. Later, he studied with Henry Hahn and Martin van Gelder. In 1891-92, he studied in New York at the New York College of Music. He toured Europe very successfully from 1892 to 1894. He was 11 years old. From 1894 to 1897, he played in America wherever his father could find him opportunities. He then studied with Charles Loeffler in Boston for two years, beginning in 1897. His patron in Boston was a wealthy merchant: Arthur Curran. From 1899 to 1903, he studied in Europe – I do not know where (perhaps Berlin) or with whom. Although he appears to have begun his career quite strongly, he suffered reversals which put him in very precarious financial circumstances a number of times. The year 1929 was especially difficult – he suffered from very poor health, his wife and children left him, and he could not work at all for many months. His concertizing was done in fits and starts but it has been said his performances were acclaimed. He appeared with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1906. He was 25 years old. On November 13, 1908, he played Saint Saens’ third concerto with the New York Philharmonic in Carnegie Hall. Again, on March 2, 1913, he played a Mozart concerto with the philharmonic. On February 5, 1914, he gave a recital in Paris with Claude Debussy at the piano. A recording of some of his music – by violinist Solomia Soroka - came out in 2009 which finally illuminated some of his work. He seems to have been a prolific writer and a very enthusiastic promoter of new music and miscellaneous projects. He was prone to wear fancy Spanish hats and a cape. He also knew – in the style of Tivadar Nachez - almost every major figure in music and regularly corresponded with them – Claude Debussy, Edvard Grieg, Bela Bartok, Richard Strauss, Anton Webern, Arnold Schoenberg, Aaron Copland, Christian Sinding, Alexander Glazunov, Zoltan Kodaly, Efrem Zimbalist, Tivadar Nachez, Leopold Auer, Joseph Joachim, Eugene Ysaye, Walter Damrosch, Carl Flesch, Frank Bridge, Fritz Kreisler, Maud Powell, Emil Sauret, Albert Spalding, Joseph Szigeti, Edward MacDowell, and Otakar Sevcik were among them. However, he was no dilettante; he was on the founding faculty of the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, New York) in 1921 – he had initially been recruited in 1918. He left Eastman in 1922 to concertize in Germany. On October 21, 1922, he played both, the Tchaikovsky and the Saint Saens B minor concertos with the Berlin Philharmonic – something that no violinist today would attempt or even contemplate doing. He was 41 years old. He returned to the U.S. in 1923 and taught privately in New York. In 1925 he formed his own quartet – the Hartmann Quartet – which made its debut in New York on November 16, 1925. It was very favorably received. It went on a U.S. tour in 1928 but was disbanded in 1929, despite the success it was experiencing. Hartmann began having difficulties with his health in 1929. For a decade, life was hard for him. He would play and teach sporadically. In 1931, he was forced to sell one of his violins, a Maggini, in order to make ends meet. From 1931 to 1933, he had a studio in Toronto, Canada, though he continued living in New York. On December 16 and 17, 1932, he played the Tchaikovsky concerto with the Syracuse (New York) Symphony. He was 51 years old. Up to that point, he may easily have already given over a thousand performances – Ruggiero Ricci gave over five thousand performances during a 75-year career. One source states that Hartmann was a composer of a substantial body of symphonic music, choral works, and chamber music but that may be an exaggeration. He did write over 200 transcriptions for violin, several works for orchestra, a few for string quartet, and some vocal music. A great abundance of his music was published, especially that written for violin. Timar, a symphonic poem, is an example of a work which was initially very well-received and then forgotten. Every piece he wrote was performed and favorably received. As far as I know, all of this music is now out of print. Hartmann was also an authority on J.S. Bach’s violin works, but especially his famous Chaconne, about which he wrote a lengthy analysis. However, just as Joseph Achron is known for his Hebrew Melody, Hartmann is known for his Debussy transcription – The Girl with the Flaxen Hair. After 1932, Hartmann dedicated the rest of his life (more than twenty years) mostly to writing and composition. A small book written by Hartmann – Claude Debussy as I Knew Him and Other Writings – though never completed, came out (with extensive notes) in 2010. It is probably the best writing on Debussy in existence. Among Hartmann’s violins was a 1735 Stradivarius which he acquired in 1901 and which was later played by Mischa Elman - it eventually ended up in the hands of a collector in Pennsylvania: Raymond Pitcairn, great uncle of violinist Elizabeth Pitcairn. Between 1905 and 1925, Hartmann also owned a 1752 Guadagnini. It’s anyone’s guess where that violin ended up. He may have acquired it from Franz Kneisel, though that’s only a wild conjecture on my part. As far as I know, Hartmann never recorded anything commercially. He died in obscurity (in New York City), on March 30, 1956, at age 75.