August 6, 2012 at 3:49 PMLegendary violinist Ruggiero Ricci had died at the age 94, according to The Strad magazine. Ricci began playing the violin at age six, with Louis Persinger. Later teachers included Michel Piastro, Paul Stassevitch and Georg Kulenkampf.
A prodigy --whose parents lied about his age -- he performed to great acclaim all over the world. He then had to re-invent himself as he continued to perform as an adult artist. He taught extensively, with posts at Indiana University, Juilliard and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He continued to teach into his 90s, giving master classes and teaching from his home in Palm Springs, California. He also wrote the book Ricci on Glissando, describing techniques that helped him to successfully play all the Paganini Caprices, for which he was famous for recording in 1947 on Paganini's own Guarneri, the Cannone.
Here is the interview that I did with Ruggiero Ricci in 2007, with a few videos: http://www.violinist.com/blog/laurie/200712/7851/
We welcome your comments and remembrances.
Below, what a beautiful take he had on the Bach Preludio, and at 5:00, Paganini Caprice #17. This performance is an encore from a March 1985 performance in Florence, Italy:
He told a friend of mine a story that when he visited Heifetz at the time he was teaching and retired from playing, he was offered a glass of whiskey. To Ricci's disappointment Heifetz reached behind the single malts in the drinks cabinet and pulled out a cheap bottle of blended whiskey!!
A sad but inevitable loss. His books are excellent and full of good advice. A great player.
"You don't need to play so loud, it's not a trombone!"
-after a bombastic performance of the third movement of the Brahms.
"You can't even play a G Minor Scale in tune, how are you going to play this concerto?"
-after a somewhat lacking performance of the first movement of Bruch G Minor.
He was very much against shifts that looked like someone was playing the trombone and advocated the old way of creeping about the fingerboard and moving up and down on semitones rather than making huge or even small jumps. He believed in a careful left hand. But at the same time a pupil of his told me that he also liked people to "go for it."
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