Sunday, January 13, 2013

Jascha Brodsky

Jascha Brodsky was a Russian (Ukrainian) violinist and teacher born (in Kharkof aka Kharkiv) on June 6, 1907.  Although he began his career as a concert violinist, he is primarily remembered as a great violin pedagogue, in the same league as Peter Stolyarsky, Carl Flesch, Leopold Auer, Zakhar Bron, Ivan Galamian, and Josef Gingold.  Brodsky shares a surname with another (not related) famous violinist: AdolphBrodsky.  His first lessons (at age six) were with his father.  Such was also the case with Jascha Heifetz and his father.  He also studied at the music conservatory of Tblisi (Georgia) and began concertizing in Russia, appearing with several orchestras in Russia in his early teens.  He left for Paris in 1926.  He was 19 years old.  In Paris he studied with Lucien Capet and later on, in Belgium, with Eugene Ysaye.  During that time, he played with Nathan Milstein and Vladimir Horowitz.  Milstein and Horowitz were very close friends and had fled Russia at almost the same time in 1925.  In 1930, with advice from Mischa Elman, Brodsky became a student of Efrem Zimbalist at the Curtis Institute (U.S.).  In 1932, he began teaching at Curtis.  By then, he had also become first violinist of what became the Curtis String Quartet, with Benjamin Sharlip, Max Aronoff, and Orlando Cole.  The quartet was invited to play at the White House at a later time.  It was also the quartet for whom Samuel Barber wrote his string quartet - the one that includes the famous Adagio (Opus 11, completed in 1936.)  The Curtis String Quartet did not, however, premiere the Barber quartet - Barber did not finish it in time.  Barber's Opus 11 was premiered by the Pro Arte Quartet in late 1936 in Italy and was subsequently revised and re-premiered by the Budapest String Quartet in the U.S. in 1943.  Brodsky retired from the quartet in 1981 and from Curtis in 1996.  He was 88 years old.  An audio file of Schumann's Opus 41, number 1 (with Louis Berman on second violin) can be heard here in its entirety.  He also taught (from 1942 onward) at the New School for Music (later – in 1986 - merging with Temple University) in Philadelphia.  His students include Jaime Laredo, Judith Ingolfsson, Juliette Kang, Judy Barrett, Julie Kurtzman, Joey Corpus, Hilary Hahn, Alan McChesney, Herbert Greenberg, Monica Bauchwitz, Ellen de Pasquale, Joseph de Pasquale, Robert de Pasquale, Levon Zarasian, Martin Chalifour, Chin Kim, Leila Josefowicz, and Nadia Salerno-Sonnenberg.   For a short while, Brodsky played – on loan from Curtis – the 1697 Molitor Stradivarius.  Curtis acquired the Molitor in 1929 but got rid of it in 1936.  The Molitor has been around a bit and is now owned by Anne Akiko Meyers - it had been previously played by Henri Temianka and (more recently) Elmar Oliveira.  For about ten years, Brodsky also played a Stradivarius violin from 1694, also from the Curtis Institute’s collection.  The violin had previously been owned by Karl Halir.  Curtis sold it in 1947.  I don’t know what violin Brodsky played after that. He died (in Ocala, Florida) on March 3, 1997, at age 89.  

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