Saturday, June 9, 2012

Joseph Fuchs

Joseph Fuchs (Joseph Philip Fuchs) was an American violinist and teacher born (in New York) on April 26, 1899.  His early studies were with his father.  He later studied at Juilliard (Institute of Musical Arts - New York) with Franz Kneisel and Louis Svecenski and graduated in 1918.  His American debut took place in 1920 at the Aeolian Hall.  He then went to Berlin for further study and to play in several German orchestras in Frankfurt, Munich, and Berlin.  Returning to New York in 1922 or 1923, he played in the Capitol Theatre Orchestra for some time (where Eugene Ormandy was concertmaster) but also played wherever else the opportunity arose.  Though very highly respected with a distinguished career as teacher and concert violinist, his profile was never very high because – Alessandro Rolla comes to mind - he lived during a time when Jascha Heifetz, Fritz Kreisler, Mischa Elman, Nathan Milstein, Yehudi Menuhin, Michael Rabin, Isaac Stern, Leonid Kogan, David Oistrakh, Arthur Grumiaux, Joseph Suk, Christian Ferras, Zino Francescatti, Joseph Szigeti, and Ruggiero Ricci dominated the violin scene.  Since he was concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra for fourteen years (1926 to 1940), his delayed entry into the concertizing world for that many years may have cost him dearly.  His Carnegie Hall debut did not come until 1943.  He was 44 years old.  Nevertheless, Fuchs toured extensively all over the world (Europe – 1954, South America – 1957, Russia - 1965) while developing a teaching career in the U.S.  Fuchs was also one of a few violinists who had to retrain after undergoing surgery on his left hand – Huberman and Thibaud did the same thing.  His first appearance with the New York Philharmonic was on August 1, 1945.  He played Bruch’s first concerto on that occasion.  Soon thereafter – on October 27, 1945 - he premiered the Nikolai Lopatnikoff concerto with the same orchestra.  That concerto has probably not been played much after that though it was recorded by Fuchs.  He premiered several other modern works as well.  In 1946, the same year he acquired the famous Cadiz Stradivarius violin, he began teaching at Juilliard and taught there almost until the day he died – 51 years.  One of his pupils is Anna Rabinova.  In 1952, he recorded (with Artur Balsam) one of the first complete sets of the Beethoven violin sonatas.  His last appearance with the New York Philharmonic was on August 1, 1962.  A YouTube audio file featuring Fuchs playing Beethoven’s Romance in G can be found here.  Fuchs’s last recital was in 1992, at Carnegie Hall.  He was 93 years old.  Nathan Milstein, Joseph Szigeti, Ruggiero Ricci, Ida Haendal, Abram Shtern, Ivry Gitlis, Zvi Zeitlin, and Roman Totenberg have also played recitals at a very advanced age.  On the other hand, it may well be that Nicolo Paganini played his last concert when he was only 52.  Joseph Fuchs died in New York City on March 14, 1997, at age 97.  By the way, the Cadiz Strad (1722), having been sold to an American Foundation, is now on loan to another American violinist.  


  1. I have heard the Cadiz Strad up close for several hours - it does have a fabulous sound.

  2. This is violinist profile number 297.