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Laurie Niles

Top Violinist Stories of 2011, and Plans for 2012

January 1, 2012 at 9:16 PM

As 2011 ends and 2012 begins, I thought it would be fun to look back on the top blogs and discussions of 2011.

Eugene Fodor Indeed, they do reflect on events within the violin world and continuing issues about practicing our art overall. As for news in the violin world: 2011 brought some deaths: violinist Eugene Fodor, luthier René A. Morel, violinist Josef Suk and Suzuki pioneer and pedagogue John D. Kendall. Young people also showed their emerging talents at competitions, including the Sphinx Competition, the 2011 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, the Primrose Competition and the Tchaikovsky Competition. Other news included Hilary Hahn's encore commissions; the premiere of the first major documentary on Jascha Heifetz; Gidon Kremer's public rant against the Verbier Festival and young artists in general; the arrest of violin dealer Dietmar Machold and more.

t shirtAs for 2012, here are a few of our plans for We'll start the year with a Mahler Marathon, when I go to nine Mahler Symphonies, performed over January and February with Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. Look for more interviews, as well as a continual expansion of our new Frequently Asked Questions page (talk to me if you'd like to write an article for this); a violin terms glossary; the return of our T-shirts as well as some new tote bags; and also, the publication of a "Best-Of" e-book with interviews. As always, we welcome your suggestions for content and improvements!

And here are our TOP 15 links for 2011:

The top 15 blogs of 2011:

1. Making Comparisons: The Parent Trap

2. Violinist Eugene Fodor dies at age 60

3. Hilary Hahn commissions 27 new encore pieces

4. 2011 Starling-DeLay Symposium on Violin Studies at Juilliard: Ida Kavafian master class

5. Interview with Judy Kang: Touring with Lady Gaga

6. How to practice, in six steps

7. Premiere of the Documentary, Jascha Heifetz, God's Fiddler

8. Otakar Sevcik's ultimate 'cheat sheets' for violin concertos and works

9. interview with Hilary Hahn: Ives Sonatas

10. interview with Nicola Benedetti: Bruch and Tchaikovsky Concertos
11. How strings are made: a tour of D'Addario Strings plant

12. interview with Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg

13. Julie Lyonn Lieberman on How Violinists Can Prevent Injury with Proper Stretches and Set-up

14. Taking Aim at Intonation Problems

15. You can play in tune without a chromatic tuner: Ringing tones explained

The top 15 discussion threads of 2011:

1. The 2011 International Tchaikovsky Competition Has Announced the Violin Competitors And Will be Video streaming many shows!

2. Earthquake in Japan

3. Private Teacher on the Brink of Tears

4. Gidon Kremer's letter to Verbier

5. The return of Tricolore strings

6. Best Violin Strings?

7. Famous violinists playing out of tune

8. Pain in Center of Palm and Pinky?

9. Not allowed to practice?

10. Violin dealer Dietmar Machold arrested in Switzerland

11. Let's Buy a Musafia Case For Emily

12. Is it possible to become a professional violinist if i started

13. 'Waking' a brand-new instrument

14. Exercises For Intonation

15. How to hold your bow

From William Wolcott
Posted on January 1, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Though I was devastated to hear of the loss of my great teacher and friend, Gino... :( .... it is with equal sadness that I bring the news of Israel Baker's passing as well. He passed away on Christmas, a week ago today, I was told.

Though I only worked with him a short time, his influence on me was quite profound, and we have indeed lost one of the greatest violinists the world has known.

RIP, Mr. Baker!


From Yixi Zhang
Posted on January 2, 2012 at 6:10 AM
I can't believe how much I have missed for being away from all this time! Thank you, Laurie, for putting up these top stories!
From Anne Horvath
Posted on January 2, 2012 at 1:35 PM
A shoulder rest fight didn't crack the Top 15 threads?

That would have to be a first...

From Anne Horvath
Posted on January 2, 2012 at 1:36 PM
Also, what are the planned dimensions of the v.c tote bag?
From Dimitri Musafia
Posted on January 2, 2012 at 5:12 PM
William - thanks for letting us know about the passing of Israel Baker, the great violinist very active in the Hollywood studios.

While studying the violin I lived near Los Angeles, and it was common knowledge that a contract at the studios was akin to the Holy Grail. I was fortunate to often have Israel Baker as a guest at our home, and his appearances were always memorable. He would often announce his arrival via the telephone installed in his Oldsmobile (an unheard-of novelty in the late seventies) and one evening he played for us Paganini Caprices ...on a viola.

Iz famously claimed that he never practised, because his studio work kept him so busy, but it should be noted that he also played "serious" music as well, as his recordings with Jascha Heifetz will testify. His nonchalance on stage was legendary. My father, concert pianist Julien Musafia, who performed with him on many occasions, recalls one time when during a cello solo in the Beethoven Triple Concerto he supplied my father with hot stock market tips.

In addition to the Jules Garcin Stradivari, he also played a Gand & Bernardel.


From Kathryn Woodby
Posted on January 2, 2012 at 9:32 PM
Re: the FAQ page--I just found a blog ( through my search engine that I think should go on the FAQ page! This was a great guide!

Thanks for all does. This is a great community. I think it keeps us all learning, growing, thinking, appreciating, and loving our music and our fellow musicians in a wonderful way. Kudos to Laurie and all the wonderful, thoughtful contributors!

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