Sunday, June 26, 2016

Franz Vecsey

Franz von Vecsey (Ferenc Vecsey) was a Hungarian violinist, conductor, and composer born (in Budapest) on March 23, 1893.  He was a child prodigy in the early part of the last century but is for the most part now forgotten.  There are a few YouTube audio files which attest to his unbelievable artistry at a very young age.  Bela Bartok served as his piano accompanist for a time.  The Sibelius violin concerto was dedicated to him (in 1905) when he was only 12 years old.  Although he did not premiere the concerto, he first played the Sibelius concerto one year later.  His first teacher was his father, Lajos Vecsey.  He studied with Jeno Hubay from age 8.  It has been said that he became Hubay’s favorite pupil.  (Eugene Ormandy and Joseph Szigeti also studied with Hubay.)  His debut took place on May 17, 1903 in Berlin.  He was ten years old and on that occasion played the Beethoven concerto while Joseph Joachim conducted the orchestra.  Afterward, he studied with Leopold Auer in St Petersburg, Russia.  Jeno Hubay dedicated his third violin concerto (probably his best-known among the four he composed) to Vecsey.  Later, after concertizing for about ten years, Vecsey married into an aristocratic family, as did four or five other famous violinists (Teresina Tua, Johanna Martzy, Cesar Thomson, and Georges Enesco come to mind.)   He managed his career from a palace in Venice.  It has been suggested that he became psychologically scarred after serving in the Austrian army during World War One and that his career suffered as a result.  He was very interested in a conducting career in the mid-1930s but became seriously ill just about then and died after an unsuccessful operation in Rome.  Vecsey’s compositional output consisted mainly of miniature violin works, one of which is Le Vent (Caprice number 1), a rather difficult work which is still very popular today.  A 1716 Stradivarius instrument was among the violins he played.  It is now owned by an Italian philanthropic foundation, which also owns other great and valuable string instruments.  Here is a YouTube audio file where Vecsey plays a Paganini caprice.  Vecsey died on April 5, 1935, at age 42.  

6 comments:

  1. I have heard Vecsey's Stradivarius - known as the Berthier - up close. It has a decent sound. Vecsey played it until the day he died. His sister acquired it many years after his death.

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  2. Thanks for this very interesting article

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    1. Thank you for your wonderful compliment.

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  3. Who plays the Berthier ex Vescey strad now? I have been looking everywhere for it. I have long admired Vecsey and love his recordings and compositions.

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    1. The last player of the Berthier Strad (that I know of) is Anna Tifu. Russian violinist Pavel Berman formerly played it. When I heard it, Franco Gulli was playing it. The violin is currently owned by the Pro Canale Foundation (Associazione Canale) in Milan.

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  4. Thanks so much! I was getting nowhere trying to find it. Anna Tifu still plays it according to her website. I have listened to Anna play it via videos on YouTube. It's hard to judge really I would need to hear it live but definitely a beautiful instrument, and in Vecsey's hands it came alive. His recordings are amazing. One can only imagine the sound in person.

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