Sunday, November 29, 2015

Antonio Brosa

Antonio Brosa was a Spanish violinist and teacher born (in La Canonja, Spain) on June 27, 1894.  He is best known for having premiered Benjamin Britten’s violin concerto.  The premiere took place in New York on March 28, 1940 with the New York Philharmonic - John Barbirolli conducted.  Brosa was also known for being fluent in 5 languages.  It is not unusual at all for violinists (and conductors) to be fluent in two or three languages but five is rather unusual.  It has been said that Henryk Szeryng was fluent in seven.  According to one usually-reliable source, Brosa was also the first to record the Britten concerto – in April, 1952 or September, 1953.  That recording – as far as I know – is not commercially available.  The concerto was at first not very successful but by 2005, there were more than twenty recordings already produced.  He began his violin studies with his father at age 4.  At age 10, he made his public debut in Barcelona.  Brosa later studied in Brussels with Mathieu Crickboom.  His training there must have taken place in the early part of the twentieth century.  He made his debut in London in 1919.  He was 25 years old.  In 1924 (one source says 1925), Brosa founded the Brosa String Quartet.  The quartet was disbanded in 1939.  His first tour of the U.S. occurred in 1930.  From 1940 to 1942, he was first violinist with the Pro Arte Quartet as well.  He later also taught at the Royal College in London and concertized until his retirement in 1971.  Brosa played the 1727 (or 1730) Vesuvius Stradivarius (now in a Cremona museum) as well as a Giovanni Paolo Maggini violin from the year 1600 (approximately) which had previously been owned by Ole Bull. Here is an audio file of a Brosa recording of the slow movement of the Mendelssohn e minor concerto.  Brosa died (in Barcelona) on March 23, 1979, at age 84. 

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