Sunday, September 8, 2013

Erich Gruenberg

Erich Gruenberg is an Austrian violinist and teacher born (in Vienna) on October 12, 1924.  Although he has appeared as soloist with many orchestras around the world, he is primarily known for his teaching at the Guildhall School of Music and the Royal Academy of Music and his career as a concertmaster with various orchestras.  He has lived in London for over 65 years – since 1946.  He began his studies as a child in Vienna.  From there, he relocated to Jerusalem (Israel – known as Palestine at the time) in 1938 (one source has it as 1939) where he studied at the Jerusalem Conservatory.  Various sources state that he led the Jerusalem-based Palestine Broadcasting Service Orchestra also known as the Palestine Broadcasting Corporation Orchestra (presumably as concertmaster) from 1938 to 1945.  This orchestra may have been the precursor of the Jerusalem Symphony, not to be confused with the Palestine Symphony Orchestra which was founded in 1936 and later became the Israel Philharmonic.  In 1946, he moved to London – he was 22 years old.  The following year, he won the Carl Flesch International Violin Competition in London and took off on a solo career after that.  That was only the third year of the competition and there was no monetary award in those days.  Gruenberg later served on the jury of the competition as well as juries in other violin competitions.  He subsequently served as concertmaster of the Stockholm Philharmonic from 1956 to 1958.  He was 32 years old.  From 1962 to 1965, he was the concertmaster of the London Symphony.  Finally, from 1972 to 1976, he was the concertmaster of the Royal Philharmonic (London.)  All the while, he continued concertizing.  His daughter Joanna, a concert pianist, would sometimes accompany him on recital tours.  Leonid Kogan and his daughter Nina also did the same thing.  Gruenberg also played first violin in the London String Quartet for ten years - I do not know during which years – and formed and led other chamber music ensembles during his career.  He has also premiered several modern works and was the first to play the Britten violin concerto in Russia.  He has recorded on the EMI, Decca, Chandos, Hyperion, and other labels.  The recording that is mentioned most frequently is his recording of all Beethoven sonatas.  His recording of the Beethoven concerto on YouTube is here.  Among his violins have been a Carlo Bergonzi from 1737 (the Emiliani), which Dietmar Machold sold for him in 1996, a Pietro Guarneri from 1704, and a 1731 Stradivarius which was stolen from him in late July of 1990 but recovered in April, 1991 in Central America.  That was indeed rare because once a Stradivarius is stolen, it disappears forever although there have been exceptions.  One such is the Gibson Stradivarius which was twice stolen from BronislawHuberman

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