Sunday, May 6, 2018

Alexander Markov

Alexander Markov is a Russian (some would say American) violinist, composer, and teacher born (in Moscow) on January 24, 1963.  Although his repertoire is very extensive, he is best known for his performances (in concert, on CD, and DVD) of the 24 Paganini Caprices.  One YouTube video of his performance of the last Caprice has over 6 million views.  In fact, Markov’s playing of the pizzicato section of this Caprice sometimes leaves the audience so spellbound they interrupt the performance with rapturous, spontaneous applause – as the New York Times music critic recently explained it: “…the dazzling left-hand pizzicato variation drew a vigorous ovation midway through the work.”  Markov also plays a six-string electric violin in a rock band which he co-founded.  He co-wrote a unique rock concerto for his own use which he has had great success with.  I don’t think a commercial recording of this concerto is yet available.  Markov’s violin studies began at age 5.  His father (concert violinist Albert Markov) was his first (and most influential) teacher.  However, Markov was also enrolled at the famous Central Music School for gifted children, which is part of the Moscow (Tchaikovsky) Conservatory. There, he studied with the well-known violin pedagogue Felix Andrievsky.  (Andrievsky is now teaching at the Royal College of Music in London.)  By age 8 he had already appeared in public.  His family emigrated to the U. S. when he was 12.  They arrived in Vienna on September 11, 1975 and spent three months there before heading for the United States.  He continued studying with his father for many years.  At age 16, he made his Carnegie Hall debut in New York.  (Two sources state that he made his Carnegie Hall debut on October 9, 1983, at age 20.  He himself has said he made his debut at age 16.  The first was his debut with orchestra; the second was as soloist, in recital.)  At age 18, he began studying with Juilliard teacher Ivan Galamian.  Galamian died a few months afterward.  (Emanuel Vardi used to tell a joke that he killed Leopold Auer because Auer died a few months after Vardi began taking lessons with him.)  At age 19 (1982) Markov won second prize (most sources say the Gold Medal) at the famous Paganini Competition (Genoa, Italy) and five years later he received the Avery Fisher Career Grant.  As a result of his Paganini Competition award, he was granted the use of Paganini’s own 1743 Cannone Guarnerius for a recital performance.  (Other violinists who have played this famous violin are Leonid Kogan, Schlomo Mintz, Eugene Fodor, Salvatore Accardo, Maxim Vengerov, Gerard Poulet, Regina Carter, Anna Tifu, Dmitri Berlinsky, and Ruggiero Ricci.)  Markov’s concertizing has taken him to all corners of the world and to most of the world’s great concert halls and orchestras with top conductors on the podium.  As do most concert violinists, he also participates in music festivals far and wide.  He also frequently gives masterclasses all around the world.  He has recorded for the Erato and Warner Classics labels.  His recordings are easy to find on the internet.  Although he used to play a Guarnerius Del Gesu violin, Markov has been playing a 1970 Sergio Peresson violin for some time.  He recorded the 24 caprices on that violin.  I have heard it up close - it is indistinguishable from any Strad or Guarneri violin.  Here is a YouTube video of the Paganini Caprice number 5 with Markov using the original bowings.  The photo is courtesy of the Alexander Markov website