Sunday, March 10, 2013

Judith Ingolfsson

Judith Ingolfsson is an Icelandic violinist and teacher born (in Reykjavik, Iceland) on May 13, 1973.  From her home base in Germany, she leads a very busy international career and is well-known for being the Gold Medalist at the 1998 Indianapolis International Violin Competition, now considered one of the top three violin competitions in the world, on a par with the Queen Elizabeth and Tchaikovsky violin competitions, though these last two have been in existence far longer.  In 1999, she was named Debut Artist of the Year by National Public Radio (USA.)  In 2000, she toured the U.S. as soloist with the Iceland Symphony, culminating with highly acclaimed performances in Carnegie Hall (New York) and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.  WQXR (New York) and Chamber Music America gave her their Record Award for her debut CD in 2001.  She has toured throughout the world, appearing with almost every major orchestra, every major conductor, and in every important venue.  Her playing has been described as being “rock solid, marvelously precise, and very elegant.”  Ingolfsson began her violin studies at age 3 (same age as Jascha Heifetz when he began) and had performed in public by age 5.  Her first violin teacher was Jon Sen, concertmaster of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra.  In 1980, her family immigrated to the U.S.  She was 7 years old.  She made her orchestral debut in Germany at age 8, playing Bach’s A minor concerto.  At the age of 14, she entered the Curtis Institute where her main teacher was the famous violin pedagogue Jascha Brodsky (pupil of Lucien Capet, Eugene Ysaye, and Efrem Zimbalist.)  Prior to that, she had a number of different teachers due to the fact that her family lived in various States before settling in Philadelphia.  It is fascinating that Guila Bustabo (a concert violinist who had the dubious distinction of having been arrested by General George C. Patton right after the end of World War Two) was one of her teachers.  Carol Glenn and Josef Gingold were also among her teachers during that time.  After graduation from Curtis, she studied further at the Cleveland Institute of Music under David Cerone and Donald Weilerstein.  In addition to her concert and recital engagements, Ingolfsson plays at a number of music festivals around the world, including the well-known Barge Music series in New York, the Spoleto Festival, Grand Teton Music Festival, Reykjavik Arts Festival, Juniper Music Festival (Utah), and the Aigues-Vives en Musiques Festival in France - Aigues-Vives is a small city in southern France, perhaps no more than 60 miles from the Spanish border.  Her chamber music concerts have included performances with the Miami String Quartet, the Vogler String Quartet, the Avalon String Quartet, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.  Ingolfsson has already appeared with over 100 different orchestras throughout the world, in addition to numerous television and radio broadcasts for PBS, CBS, and NHK (in Japan.)  She was appointed to the faculty of the University of Colorado (Boulder) in August of 2006 but soon moved to the Staatliche Hochschule fur Musik und Darstellende Stuttgart (State University of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart) in Germany in October of 2008.  Her recital accompanist is usually (Russian concert pianist and conductor) Vladimir Stoupel, with whom she formed a duo (the Ingolfsson-Stoupel Duo) in 2006.  Ingolfsson has played the Gingold Stradivarius of 1683 (also known as the Martinelli Strad), a 1750 Lorenzo Guadagnini, and a modern violin by French luthier Yair Hod Fainas, constructed for her in 2010.  I have heard the Gingold and the Guadagnini up close for hours and both are great-sounding violins.  The Fainas violin I have not yet heard but I am willing to bet it has a gorgeous sound, as good a sound as the best Stradivari violins.  (I admit I much prefer new violins to old.)  Ingolfsson has been recording commercially since 1999.  Her abundantly-praised recording of the Tchaikovsky concerto can be found here.  You can also find out why her recent recording of the Ysaye Solo Sonatas has been so highly acclaimed here.  A wonderful YouTube video of Ingolfsson in performance can be seen (and heard) here.  The photo is by Michael Rosenthal, taken during a piano trio performance.