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A real prodigy becomes a great artist at a price.

April 29, 2009 at 11:28 PM


is it just me,  or is this panic about swine flue basically a load of old cobblers?    People get flue.  They almost always  get better....unless they are in a poor country. Maybe we should just adress the issue of poor countries instead?

In the meantime an example of one of the greatets prodigies of the 20c- Ida Haendel.  Began violin at age three.  Won the gold medal at the Polsih Academy at age er,  seven....

Check out the documentary on youtube   Some of the most breathtaking violin playing you could wish for (esp La Folia,  Poeme and Brahms concerto).  Not a sacharinne player by any means but incredibnly gutsy and dignified at the same time.  Interesting she uses two adjusters from way back.  The down side I suppose is she came across to me as about as lonely as a person can get.  

Keep in mind she is still travelling around banging out amazing concerts at goodness knows what age!



From al ku
Posted on April 29, 2009 at 11:40 PM

my kid woke up with pigtails,,,should i be worried? 

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on April 30, 2009 at 1:20 AM


does she grunt when she plays?



From al ku
Posted on April 30, 2009 at 1:41 AM

will check that out.  do you have any oinkment by any chance?

From Tess Z
Posted on April 30, 2009 at 3:41 AM

Is it an optical illusion or does Ms. Haendel have teeny tiny hands?   She seems to be a very petite woman.  I will now stop complaining about my fourth finger issues.

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on April 30, 2009 at 4:02 AM




PS AL<  no but she should listen to more Oinkstrakh recordings.  Has she studied Josephine Trotter`s melodius double stops?

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on April 30, 2009 at 12:26 PM

EXTRAORDINAIRY VIDEO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have heard about it here and have always love her playing since then!

For finger issues (yes, I have the bad habit to check too much fingers of famous players!) They seem tiny in some videos/photos and huge for a woman in some other videos/photos! I guess has to pay a trip to someone to go see these fingers in real to solve this mystery! I am volunteer!  However, hands of people always seem smaller from far away. (I find)

For loneliness, she stills travels, have her dog and friends.  Of course, when you are single and that you get older, many relatives and friends pass away...  However, I feel Ms. Haendel would deserve to be MUCH MORE FAMOUS since she is as good as the great male soloists of her time and I wonder if Menuhin, Heifetz, Oistrakh (just to name a few) were single and had her age if it would be the same??? I hope fans will organise someting special for her one day!  If only she could surf on the net and see all the good things people say about her!

Thanks Buri!


From E. Smith
Posted on April 30, 2009 at 6:24 PM

Haha, Al and Buri. You made me snort coffee all over my keyboard. Again.

From Phil Houghton
Posted on April 30, 2009 at 8:23 PM

Hey Buri

Just a quick note on flu. I work as a nurse on a cardiac intensive care unit, where we do a treatment called ECMO - Extra corporeal Membrane Oxygenation. This is a final ditch treatment for people with severe respiratory failure, including influenza. Whilst Ecmo does help some, I have also seen some patients die in terrible suffering,and the effect on both them and their families is devastating. Whilst I agree that the media coverage of swine flu is totally overblown, please be aware of the very real effects that proper flu can have.



From Rick Floress
Posted on April 30, 2009 at 9:03 PM

Although I am not a Doctor, but from what I understand, the swine flu is different from other flus because the ease of human-to-human-transmission, the rate at whcih it is spreading and the fact that, in Mexico at least, the swine flu has proved fatal to young, healthy people (whereas "normal" flu is generally only fatal to infants and the elderly). 

From Rosalind Porter
Posted on April 30, 2009 at 9:55 PM

Laurie:   Please please please try to fix up an interview with Ms Haendel!  I am sure it would be an absolute classic for

From Royce Faina
Posted on April 30, 2009 at 10:07 PM

 I surprised that Sam Mihailoff hasn't begun to post Tickle My 'ECMO' jokes with pasted e-animations of Elmo playing a violin!

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on April 30, 2009 at 10:38 PM


Phil, thanks for your comments.  I woudln`t dream of playing down nature of flu or the suffering it can inflict.  Historically I believe it has been the biggest killer illness of all time and the loss of a single family member is a tradegy we shoudl all be compassionate and sensitive about.

However, the issue tends to anger me (just a little) because it is with the kind of exceptions you point out,  the poor who suffer and it isn`t just a question of a kind of natural Darwinism that some countries are inevitably richer than others.  It is frequently the direct result of agreements between the rich and powerful which eliminate social support and infrastructure to create profits that only a few can enjoy.  NAFTA for example, has not been a life enhancing agreement for most  Americans or Mexicans.  

As for the panic,  it just seems  to reflect ,  in my opinion,  the modern worlds fractured thought and relenles s need to turn a potentially serious situation into over dramatic headline news at the expense of the more mundane but far more dangerous things we could be dealing with that would make not only life more bearable for so many but perhaps extend the life of the human race on our rapidly destructing biosphere.



From Royce Faina
Posted on May 1, 2009 at 12:18 AM

Buri et al.; But what about 1918 and after??? What about that flu pandemic?  I was once an L.P.N. and took care of a man who as a child lost both parents and burried victims.  what about A.I.D.S. in 1982???

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on May 1, 2009 at 4:49 AM


Hi Royce. I was referring to the horrifc flu pandemics of the early 20c in my post.  Why AIDs in 1982 in particular?  I see it as a contemporary issue:  both denying affordable drugs to poorer countries and pursuing supposedly religious agendas through financial weapons.  Incidentally,  my brother died of AIDS.



From Yixi Zhang
Posted on May 1, 2009 at 5:10 AM

I'm so sorry Buri.


From Stephen Brivati
Posted on May 1, 2009 at 5:24 AM


well `death is the mother of beauty` in so many ways.   As my brother became sicker he continued to spend all his time and energy on helping the disabled.   At that time he wa s living in the North of England with his lifetime partner.  Now `old blighty` (England) has often had an awful capacity for prejudice inspired violence and it was quite well know that the further North one went the less socially acceptable having a partner of the same sex or being HIV positive was.  At that time gangs did actually roam the streets looking for a chance of some `gay bashing.`   Nonetheless,  as my brother became unable to take care of himself the whole neighbourhood picthed in to make sure he got meals and transport or whatever he needed.

At it`s best,  the human race is not at all bad!



From Laurie Niles
Posted on May 1, 2009 at 5:19 AM

The 80s and 90s were tragic, when it came to AIDS. I'm so sorry Buri.

When it comes to swine flu, though, I'd recommend reading this; swine flu apparently is no worse than the typical flu, which gets very little attention but nonetheless kills some 99 people a day. I find the media ruckus to be opportunistic and irresponsible, save this one LA Times article. Sure, people should be cautious and take care, but we don't need to be terrorized.

Interviewing Ida Haendel, now that sounds like a neat project indeed, but perhaps one better done in person than over the phone. How does one get in touch with her? Would she be able to toleratesuch a thing? And how do I get to UK? :)


From Stephen Brivati
Posted on May 1, 2009 at 5:55 AM


thanks Laurie.  However,  I do feel the AIDS pandemic remains a current problem,  certainly as a refelction of our paternal and exploitive view of Africa. But I suspect even closer tyo home,  if one investigated further it migth be a much more serious social issue affecting those without money or voice in our own societies which we so often just asume basically work for everyone until contrary evidence hits us in the face.

Incidentally, as was widely reported in the Japanes e press,   Tamiflu was administered to some Japanes e children in response to the threat of avain flu in 2005 .  12 of them died while others tried to commit suicide by jumping out of windows.  Other side effects  included psychiatric disorders,   hallucinations and heart and lung problems.


From Joseph Galamba
Posted on May 1, 2009 at 5:51 AM

I believe Ida Haendel spends a great deal of time in Miami?  She's was very active as a concert artist as of the last I had heard so I'd assume she'd be capable of a short interview.  She's one of my favorite violinists so I'd love to see an interview of her. 

Regarding the documentary: I remember seeing it a while ago and thinking it was SUCH a downer.  She seemed very much alone eating dinner in the corner with her dog.  Of course if she didn't have a normal life, she had an extrordinary carrer.  I've heard some people say some rather insensitive things about her age, but I'd like to see them still at the top of their profession at 80...or play the Brahms concerto EVER like she does. I hope this documentary can remind people how amazing she is (how is it her carrer never took off quite as much as it should have?)

Regarding the flu.  Here in Ohio some people are freaking out...I just don't get it.  Apparently this flu affects young people more virulently than the normal flu or something (which kills children and the elderly but not so many young adults), but I think an opportunistic press is closer to the truth. 

From Laurie Niles
Posted on May 1, 2009 at 2:24 PM

I should add that AIDS is now an unmitigated disaster. I can only hope that the U.S. change in administration will help make the aid to Africa more effective (actually giving people preventive measures that will work and hopefully more than that.)

From Terez Mertes
Posted on May 1, 2009 at 3:42 PM

 Loved the documentary, what an amazing woman. Thanks for posting the link, Buri.

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on May 1, 2009 at 10:05 PM


you know,  I heard her play the Walton at the Proms years ago and there was this little phrase of double stops sliding up the g and d string. That sound haunts me to this day. I can recreate it like I am a kid again. 



From Steffen Zeichner
Posted on May 2, 2009 at 6:18 AM

I saw Ida play and do a small masterclass several years ago - She had a great sense of humor, and brought her little dog with her (who loves music, but can't stand Wienawski - he howls heh). Really a great musician and seemed to be an extremely nice person.

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