Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dorothy DeLay

Dorothy DeLay was an American violinist and teacher born (in Medicine Lodge, Kansas) on March 31, 1917.  She is well-known as the teacher of many world famous violinists and as a pedagogue as accomplished as Peter Stolyarski, Leopold Auer, Carl Flesch, Ivan Galamian, Otakar Sevcik, Joseph Gingold, and Zakhar Bron.  She easily taught more than a thousand students during her career.  A story is told of how when DeLay was two years old, she had opportunity to hug and kiss the King of Belgium – just as the child prodigy Mozart hugged and kissed Marie Antoinette.  She began her violin studies at age 4.  She first played in public at age 5.  By age 14, she was the leader of her high school orchestra, which numbered about one hundred players.  At 16, she entered Oberlin College (Ohio) where she studied with Raymond Cerf, an obscure violinist who had been a pupil of Eugene Ysaye.  At 17, she entered Michigan State University, from which she graduated at age 20.  Her violin teacher there was another obscure violinist and conductor named Michael Press.  From there, she went (in 1937) to New York to study with Louis Persinger at Juilliard.  She was still only 20 years old.  She also later studied with Hans Letz and Felix Salmond at the same school.  DeLay earned a living while at Juilliard by doing odd jobs and playing wherever and whenever she could.  It was during this time that she founded the Stuyvesant Trio which was active from 1939 to 1942.  She also became a member of Leopold Stokowski’s All-American Youth Orchestra which toured South America and the U.S. in 1940 and 1941.  She graduated from Juilliard in 1941 but also got married that year.  She subsequently traveled with her husband due to his military service during the war but also occasionally performed as a soloist and with the trio.  In 1946, DeLay decided to take a break from performing and returned to Juilliard for further study.  She was 29 years old.  Her teacher then was Ivan Galamian.  In 1948 (one source says 1947), she became Galamian’s teaching assistant.  The rest is history.  She was 31 years old.  DeLay had also considered studying medicine during this time but decided against it.  (Interestingly, Austrian violinist Fritz Kreisler did study medicine and actually became a doctor, though, as far as I know, he never actually practiced.)  She also concurrently began teaching at the Henry Street Settlement School and Sarah Lawrence College (1947-1987.)  In 1970, she finally established her own teaching studio at Juilliard.  She was 53 years old and had already been teaching at Juilliard for more than 20 years, although under Galamian’s shadow.  One fine day, after it had become quite obvious that her teaching style and methods were incompatible with Galamian’s, Delay let Galamian know that she would not be teaching at Meadowmount (Galamian’s summer music camp) that summer (in 1970) but would be at the Aspen Music camp instead; the relationship ruptured and Galamian (1903-1981) never spoke to her again.  In fact, he tried to get her fired but was unsuccessful.  DeLay played a 1778 GB Guadagnini (named the Dorothy Delay Guadagnini) which was sold at auction in October of 2013 – for $1,390,000.  She acquired the violin in 1969.  Today, more than a dozen Juilliard teachers are former pupils of hers.  Besides Juilliard, DeLay also taught at the University of Cincinnati, the New England Conservatory, and the Royal College of Music in London.  It has been said that DeLay once stated that “talent is just a mood.”  Among her famous pupils are Anastasia Khitruk, Stefan Milenkovich, Anton Barachovsky, Philippe Quint, Itzhak Perlman, Tijana Milosevic, Miranda Cuckson, Nigel Kennedy, Peter Oundjian, Jaap van Zweden, Shlomo Mintz, David Kim, Robert McDuffie, Aaron Janse, Cornelia Heard, Mark Kaplan, Midori Goto, Frank Almond, Sarah Chang, Angele Dubeau, Paul Kantor, Tamaki Kawakubo, Robert Chen, Gil Shaham, and Akiko Suwanai.  Dorothy DeLay died on March 24, 2002, at age 84.  Today, Itzhak Perlman teaches in her place.  The photo shows DeLay in her early twenties.  

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