Friday, December 28, 2012

Daniel Guilet

Daniel Guilet (Guilevitch) was a Russian violinist (some would say French or American) born (in Rostov) on January 10, 1899.  Although he was for a few years concertmaster of the famous NBC Symphony under the ill-tempered Arturo Toscanini, he is better known as the original violinist and founder of the Beaux Arts Trio.  His parents moved from Russia to Paris before the turn of the century, and he later trained at the Paris Conservatory with George Enesco.  After graduation, he toured Europe as a recitalist with Maurice Ravel as his accompanist.  He also played second violin in the Calvet String Quartet (with Joseph Calvet, Leon Pascal, and Paul Mas.)  A YouTube audio file of one of their recordings can be found here.  Guilet came to the U.S. in 1941.  He was about 41 years old.  He soon formed a quartet (which at various times included Henry Siegl, Jac Godoretzky, William Schoen, Frank Brieff, David Soyer, and Lucien Laporte) under his own name.  A YouTube performance by this quartet can be heard here.  Three years later (1944) he joined the NBC Symphony.  Seven years after that (1951), he became its concertmaster and remained in that position after Toscanini retired in 1954, although the orchestra had to change its name – a string quartet from the NBC orchestra which included Emanuel Vardi and Daniel Guilet, used to play for the retired maestro at his home almost every Sunday in order to cheer him up.  In that same year (1954), Guilet formed the Beaux Arts Trio with pianist Menahem Pressler and cellist Bernard Greenhouse.  The trio gave its first concert on July 13, 1955 and its last on September 6, 2008.  Guilet retired from the trio in 1968 and from playing altogether (publicly) in 1969.  The trio (featuring Guilet) has a few audio files on YouTube although files and videos with subsequent violinists are more numerous.  One such audio file is here.  After his retirement, Guilet taught at Indiana University, the Manhattan School of Music, the Royal Conservatory in Canada (Montreal), Oklahoma University, and Baylor University (Waco, Texas.)  He owned a JB Vuillaume violin from 1867, a Carlo (or Michele Angelo) Bergonzi from 1743, and a 1727 Guarnerius Del Gesu which he got rid of in 1973 (after he retired from playing) and which passed through the hands – perhaps in 1998 - of infamous violin dealer Dietmar Machold, who is now in prison for defrauding clients and banks.  I’m guessing Guilet used the Vuillaume and Bergonzi violins for most of his recordings since the Guarnerius was not acquired until 1965.  The violin now bears Guilet’s name.  Guilet died in New York on October 14, 1990, in relative obscurity, at age 91.  

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