About violinists, violins, and the violence that occurs between the two.
Sunday, June 28, 2015
Stefi Geyer (Steffi Geyer) was a Hungarian violinist and teacher born (in
Budapest) on June 28, 1888. Although a very
popular and distinguished violinist in the early part of the century, she is better
known for her relationship to Bela Bartok, one of the greatest composers of the
20th Century. Bartok
dedicated his first violin concerto (composed in 1907 but not published until 1959) to
her, although she never performed it in public.
It is said she had the only copy of the score and did not release it
until very late in her life, after Bartok had died. Her violin studies began at age three – her
father was her first teacher. From age
seven she studied with Kalman Adolf, an obscure violinist. At age ten she began studying at the Budapest
Academy of Music with Jeno Hubay, one of the most respected violinists and
teachers of the time. Geyer began
concertizing in Hungary and Austria at age twelve. Her studies with Hubay ended in 1902. She was fourteen years old. She toured Europe frequently and was admired for
her intelligent and elegant interpretations of a very wide repertory. She moved to Vienna in 1911. In 1919 she settled in Zurich. She
was very busy playing throughout Europe, giving over 100 concerts in the
1922-23 season alone. She toured the
U.S. in 1924, although not for the first time.
Geyer taught at the Zurich Conservatory from 1934 to 1953 (one source
says 1923 to 1953.) In 1935 she was
appointed concertmaster of the Sacher Chamber Ensemble. She became the concertmaster of the Collegium
Musicum in Zurich in 1941. Beginning in
1938, she would often play in the orchestra of the Lucerne Festival. She played a 1742 Guarnerius (del Gesu) violin known
as the Soldat. The violin has
an interesting history. Her recordings
from the 1930s are numerous but somewhat hard to find. Here is a YouTube audio file of one of her recordings
from the year 1927. Geyer died in Zurich
on December 11, 1956, at age 68.