The Violin Channel has an interview series with string celebrities called “twenty questions”. I thought I’d similarly interview myself with 16 questions – I think that’s more than enough…
WHEN WERE YOU BORN?
None of yer guldern business! Let’s just say that when I began music lessons I had to begin on a gamba because the violin hadn’t been invented yet!
OK, truth be told, I was born in 1952. There, I said it! Are you happy?
WHAT WAS GOING ON IN THE WORLD AT THAT TIME?
Off the top of my head, musically, Toscanini was still active, but not for much longer, Kreisler was to live for 10 more years, Heifetz was in his prime. Elman was going strong and Oistrakh, Francescatti, Grumiaux and Stern were coming up fast.
Otherwise, Britain came out with the A-bomb and the USA came out with the H-bomb. Eisenhower was elected president, isotopes were used in medicine and industry and a contraceptive pill was developed. Rocky Marciano won the heavyweight championship belt from “Jersey” Joe Walcott that year as well.
The paragraph above is something I could not have come up with in a live, real-time interview. Those facts came care of a quick reference book I have, called “The Timetables of History”. It’s not written in that book, but I believe that at the same time, dinosaurs still roamed the Earth here and there. Why not? I’m still roaming the Earth now!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PASTIME?
Other than music I love art and reading, among other things.
WHO ARE THE MOST FAMOUS PEOPLE ON YOUR CELL PHONE?
Does “Pronto Pizza” count? Actually, nobody. But I have a few famous violinists on my email list.
WHAT CRAZY RUMOR IS FLOATING OUT THERE ABOUT YOU THAT YOU’D LIKE TO PUT TO REST?
Well the only rumor I know about is the one that I am the finest and most famous violinist in all of Long Branch, New Jersey. But I kind of started that one, so…
WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
One of the violins I commissioned from Ed Maday was very personalized at my request with a lion’s head, Stainer-style and my own Latin motto on the ribs, Amati style: “In Mvsica Felicitas” (In Music Happiness). I also admire the Polish motto of the legendary pianist, Arthur Rubinstein: “nie dam sie”. I understand this to mean “I won’t give in, I won’t knuckle under”.
WHAT IS YOUR SUPER POWER?
On the violin, it’s my special bowing technique. I have the power to unerringly hit with my bow, any stand light or microphone within reach! I find that I don’t even have to practice this technique; it’s just an innate gift!
IF YOU COULDN’T BE A MUSICIAN, WHAT OTHER PROFESSION COULD YOU SEE YOURSELF IN?
Probably acting, comedy or writing. I seem to have a predilection for talents that don’t usually attract a lot of money!
WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT IN LIFE?
A number of things. But I think that it starts with being true to yourself - and a lot of other things will fall into place.
DO YOU LIKE TO DRIVE FAST?
Sometimes. But I don’t like to get tickets, so…
IS YOUR GLASS HALF EMPTY OR FULL?
Both, really. But I usually prefer to focus on the full part.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME AND CHANGE ANYTHING IN YOUR LIFE WHAT WOULD IT BE?
A few things. For sure, I’d have started violin lessons earlier and practiced more from an earlier age.
WHY HAVE YOU SUCCEEDED IN A PROFESSION WHERE SO MANY HAVE FAILED?
That’s assuming that I HAVE succeeded! But to the extent that I have, it’s due to my enormous perseverance and living by the “nie dam sie” motto cited above.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE CONCERT OR RECORDING THAT YOU HAVE DONE?
The NEXT one!
IF WE CAME OVER FOR DINNER, WHAT WOULD YOU COOK FOR US?
What makes you think I’d cook anything? And why didn’t you call first? Actually, I’m no cook. I used to know how to boil water – but I lost the recipe. We’d all be better off if I ordered Chinese food or pizza.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF CLASSICAL MUSIC?
Pundits have been sounding the death knell for classical music for a very long time. Yet it keeps surviving somehow. There are serious problems to be sure. And there is a reason why popular music is called “popular”. But I think that the computer age and modern technology has actually given classical music a new lease on life, however imperfectly. One way or another, classical music will survive.
OK, that’s enough about me. Now it’s YOUR turn!
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