Sunday, February 16, 2014

Lola Bobesco

Lola Bobesco (Lola Violeta Ana Maria Bobesco) was a Romanian violinist born (in Craiova, Romania) on August 9, 1921.  She spent most of her career in Europe and many of those years were spent in Belgium, which is why Bobesco is frequently referred to as a Belgian violinist.  She initially studied with her father, a noted composer and conductor.  At age 6, she gave her first public recital.  From 1928 to 1935, she studied at the Normal School of Music in Paris.  Her main teacher there was Marcel Chailley, a well-known violinist of the time.  She almost simultaneously studied at the Paris Conservatory from 1931 to 1935, with Jules Boucherit.  She also studied privately with George Enesco and Jacques Thibaud.  She apparently made her orchestral debut in Paris in 1936 with the (Edouard) Colonne Orchestra with Paul Paray conducting.  Paray would later become chief conductor of the Detroit Symphony, when Detroit was in its prime.  It was an unusual debut in that she performed not a concerto from the standard repertoire but a work by a now-obscure Romanian composer, Stan Golestan.  She was 17 years old.  The next year, she won seventh prize in the Queen Elizabeth (Eugene Ysaye) violin competition – David Oistrakh came in first.  After that, she returned to Romania and established a career in Bucharest.  On January 17, 1960 she made her first appearance with the Berlin Philharmonic, playing the Brahms concerto, She was 38 years old.  She performed with most of the major European orchestras, including the Concertgebouw, the London Philharmonic, and the Berlin Philharmonic, under conductors famous at the time, including Rudolph Kempe, Ernest Ansermet, Karl Bohm, and Otto Klemperer.  Having relocated to Belgium in her early thirties, from 1958 to 1978, she led the Royal Wallonia Chamber Orchestra in Mons, Belgium.  Mons is situated about 30 miles south of Brussels.  She was also violin professor at the Brussels Conservatory.  From 1962 to 1974, she taught at the Liege Conservatory.  In 1990, she founded a string quartet as well – the Arte Del Suono Quartet.  She was 69 years old.  You can hear how this quartet sounds here and – I predict - you will most certainly be (pleasantly) surprised.  She recorded quite a bit for various labels and those recordings – mostly standard violin sonatas and concertos – are available and easily found on the internet.  Her violin, among others, was a 1754 GB Guadagnini.  Bobesco died (in Spa, Belgium) on September 4, 2003, at age 82, largely forgotten. 

4 comments:

  1. "Largely forgotten", but not in Romania. Her LPs with pianist Valentin Gheorghiu (http://www.bestmusic.ro/valentin-gheorghiu/sonata-nr14-in-do-diez-minor-op27-a-lunii-allegretto-720082.html) are still a must-listen-to.

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    1. You are quite right. Actually, she is an icon to classical music fans, especially violinist fans. It is sad that practically all violinists who once were in the limelight in the 1800s and 1900s are now unknown to the general public and even to serious violin students. I was quite amazed to hear the virtuosity of the quartet's playing - the one referenced in the link.

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  2. have an old violin with Lola inscribed in the casing. Do you know if she did this to an old violin of hers? It is a darker colour to the picture above. It comes from Romania.

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    1. I do not know but I will guess she probably did not inscribe her name on any of her violins. To be sure, do take the violin to a dealer or take clear photos of it from various angles and send the photos to Tarisio or Sotheby's or any well-known dealer in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, or Dallas. There are many dealers who would know.

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