Sunday, May 31, 2015

Gyorgy Garay

Gyorgy Garay was a Hungarian violinist, teacher, and music editor born (in Rakospalota) on December 2, 1909.  He is now a very obscure violinist who was well-known in his day.  His first teacher was Joseph Bloch at the Budapest Academy of Music.  Garay was 9 years old when he started his studies.  Three years later, he was a student of Oscar Studer.  In 1925, he began studying with Jeno Hubay and graduated a year later.  Interestingly, his public debut took place in Vienna (1926.)  He made his debut in Hungary (Budapest) in 1927.  Garay soon gravitated toward a career in chamber music, playing violin in the Hungarian Trio from 1927 to 1930.  Between 1930 and 1933, he was first violinist with the Garay Quartet.  In the 1930s, he developed a second career as a soloist in Europe.  Between 1940 and 1945, he was a violinist with the Fovarosi Orchestra in Budapest.  He became principal violinist at the Hungarian State Opera House in 1945 and stayed until 1951.  From 1951 to 1960, he was concertmaster of the National Philharmonic (State Concert Orchestra) – this orchestra may or may not be the same orchestra which exiled itself (to Germany) in 1956 and became the Philharmonia Hungarica.  From 1949 to 1961, Garay was also a violin teacher at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest.  In 1960, he became concertmaster of the Radio Symphony in Leipzig (MDR Symphony Orchestra.)  While there, he also taught at the Mendelssohn Academy of Music.  Henceforth, he performed less and less as a soloist.  He gave many premiere performances of new works (mostly by Hungarian composers) and recorded some of these works as well.  Here is one of several of his audio files on YouTube - the violin concerto (1973) by Wilhelm Neef.  Garay died (in Leipzig) on May 15, 1988, at age 78.  His violin was a Stradivarius of 1733 – as far as I know, it bears no name.  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Hagai Shaham

Hagai Shaham is an Israeli violinist and teacher born (in Haifa) on July 8, 1966.  For reasons I know nothing about, he has never left Israel as his home base, as have so many other concert violinists – Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Guy Braunstein, Jonathan Berick, Lydia Mordkovitch, Vadim Gluzman, and Ivry Gitlis, to name a few.  He is also known for recordings of little-known works by Joseph Achron.  Shaham is often asked whether he is closely related to American violinist Gil Shaham – he is not.  Shaham began his violin studies at age 6.  He later studied (from age 12) with Ilona Feher (1901-1988) in Tel Aviv - it has been said that he was her last student.  He also studied with Emanuel Borok (the highest-paid concertmaster in the world), Elisha Kagan, and Arnold Steinhardt.  Shaham has taught at USC (in the US - 2007), the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, and Tel Aviv University, among other places.  He has also given numerous master classes throughout the world.  His recording labels have included Decca, Chandos, Hyperion, Naxos, Nimbus, and Biddulph.  His Achron recordings are on the Hyperion label – some of these works have never before been available to the general public.  It has been said that he found these forgotten works (in manuscript form) at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  These recordings have been highly praised.  One reviewer stated that “through the richness of his tone, superior vibrato usage, expressiveness of phrasing and top-drawer facility, he fulfills his potential in striking fashion.  It is a treat to hear such tonally satisfying violin playing when commonplace sound, even among accomplished artists, is so prevalent."  Another has stated that he has “an impressive a technique as anyone except Heifetz…”  In 2009, he formed a piano trio with Arnon Erez (piano) and Raphael Wallfisch.  Since then, the trio has toured regularly but mostly in Europe.  Here is a YouTube video of him playing a well-known piece by Jeno Hubay.  

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Stefan Gheorghiu

Stefan Gheorghiu was a Romanian violinist and teacher born (in Galatz) on March 23, 1926.  Although he concertized around the world, he spent most of his time playing and teaching in Romania.  As most professional violinists have done, he began his violin studies very early in life – at age 5.  He later (at age 9) became a student at the Royal Conservatory in Bucharest and later still at the National Conservatory in Paris, studying with Maurice Hewitt, a violinist I had never before heard of.  He completed his studies in Moscow under the tutelage of David Oistrakh.  In 1946, he became violin soloist with the George Enesco Philharmonic in Bucharest.  He also formed the Romanian Piano Trio.  He was 20 years old.  Using Bucharest as his home base, he toured various parts of the world (mostly Europe and Russia), championing the music of Romanian composers, especially George Enesco, recording several first editions of their works.  In 1960, he was appointed violin professor at the University of Music (Music Academy) in Bucharest.  He was 34 years old.  Among his many pupils are Angele Dubeau, Corina Belcea, and Silvia Marcovici.  Gheorghiu died on March 17, 2010, at (almost) age 84.