1981 feature NYT article on Aaron Rosand

April 2, 2007 at 02:05 AM · Stumbled on this 1981 feature article on NYT--it does NOT require TimesSelect membership to read. It describes his frustration at never quite attaining the fame he deserved.

Replies (52)

April 2, 2007 at 04:07 AM · Thank you for posting this, Milstein.

By the way, with my in-home subscription to the Sunday NYT, I get to access 100 Times Select articles a month for free. That is a stupendously nifty deal.

April 2, 2007 at 04:58 AM · I understand his feeling about not achieving the fame he deserved and will try to keep it from spoiling my enjoyment of his recordings, which I cannot enjoy as much as I deserve to as it is.

April 2, 2007 at 05:10 AM · In the article he said that he was in the process of recording all the Spohr VC, Szymanowski sonatas, and some other stuff, I guess that never happened. Never knew he got offered concertmaster positions in New York and Chicago.

April 2, 2007 at 05:14 AM · Yeah, me neither; I'm surprised he didn't take the NY offer, all things considered.

April 2, 2007 at 12:00 PM · I am glad that he choose to go his own way.

April 2, 2007 at 01:26 PM · this is an insightful article where the tone of the write-up was critical and at the same time mr rosand himself was candid about the path he had chosen and he did most of the cohesive talking. now i respect him even more for being an artist true to his own calling, having chosen the path less travelled, especially when he had decided to part from support, money and influence for his future spouse. many would have sold souls to continue to play on a strad. he was no weasel.

this is called first hand knowledge. this is in stark contrast to the sentiments of another thread on v.com in the recent past which was based entirely on second or third hand knowledge, in the process of becoming 4th and 5th hand knowledge, however aparently helpful and zealous, where some hungry readers could have easily got the gilded but skewed impression that mr rosand's whereabout has been the sole doing of issac stern, which, according to mr rosand, at least at the time of this article, was not the case. if mr stern did do something to mr rosand later on, on the same theme that mr rosand had in fact done similar things to himself, then the presentation should be balanced and thorough and responsible. knowing nothing sometime is better than knowing just enough to be dangerous.

goes to show,,,,what you need to know in life your grandma had taught you long ago.

April 2, 2007 at 12:39 PM · Al- I don't know how you conclude that the article clears Stern of any wrong doing. I was about to ask why the planned recordings didn't come out. In fact, I was idly wondering if Stern had interfered.

The way Rosand lost his Strad is exactly the same as Dylana Jenson's story. I didn't know it was so common for wealthy patrons to be so controlling. Shouldn't they at least have waited for a few years to see if their playing declines due to their life choices?

Ihnsouk

April 2, 2007 at 12:54 PM · ihnsouk,

"I don't know how you conclude that the article clears Stern of any wrong doing"

did i even go there? :)

April 2, 2007 at 01:45 PM · Sorry if I misunderstood you, Al. You pointed out that the accusation came from 4th, 5th hand account while the article first hand made no reference to Stern. To me, that seemed to imply you thought Stern was cleard of wrongdoing.

Ihnsouk

April 2, 2007 at 01:09 PM · When I lived in New York I heard something about Rosand incurring stern's wrath, but I never knew the circumstances--unless it simply that he played so much better than Stern.

April 2, 2007 at 01:37 PM · Jay - Search for an old thread about that. It seemed Rosand isn't the only one incurring Stern's wrath. Stern seemed to have plenty wrath to distribute. Probably, due to deep insecurity, possibly the result of long lonely hours of practice?

Ihnsouk

April 2, 2007 at 01:19 PM · ihnsouk, no need to apologize or anything like that. my earlier statement was based on the observation on the other thread where people in knows, at least think they are, were recounting stories they had heard (thus 2nd and 3rd hand) and we readers were making our own assessment based on that (thus 4th and 5th).

this article has no mention of stern. i do not know if stern had entered the scene by then, or mr rosand did not want to talk about it. either way, what is more relevant is that the other side of the story, or THE STORY, was told by mr rosand himself, about his interests and the less popular route he has undertaken. to me, this is about being a true artist, about integrity.

the take-home message for the next generation is not how stern had reportedly set roadblocks for him, which is out of mr rosand's control. rather, it is the pursuit of one's own artistic dream against the current.

April 2, 2007 at 01:30 PM · Even if Stern had been a major factor in Rosand's career roadblocks (which indeed is not clear from this article), Rosand was wise not to single out one individual in a public article like this. It would have been bad PR, bad diplomacy, and persnickety, and it probably would have backfired on him. The article paints a picture of a genuine artist with an independent spirit and with integrity, rather than an unsuccessful musician crying sour grapes.

April 2, 2007 at 02:00 PM · Al - it is not 2nd or 3rd hand knowledge, when Gennady (a former student of Rosand), and myself (who's Mother was Rosand's accompanist for a few tours) heard about these things Stern did to him. Okay? Glad we have that cleared up, now let us put that to rest and not have another debate.

April 2, 2007 at 02:09 PM · Yes, the Stern situation was addressed in another thead recently.

I doubt that Rosand would have accused anyone of stalling his career for this article, even if it were true

And I agree with the earlier poster who said that Rosand played better than Stern.

Kevin

April 2, 2007 at 02:47 PM · Yeah, lots of people play(ed) better than Stern. I seriously doubt he had the capabilities to play the Ernst VC.

April 2, 2007 at 03:54 PM · Lots of people may have been better than Stern as a soloist, but he was a chamber musician without peer. He also had a lot greater influence on what one might call the non-musical or infrastructure side of classical music than many of the people who think they are better soloists.

April 2, 2007 at 05:05 PM · Tom,

I have no idea where you get that idea. Are we listening to the same recordings? Chamber music means playing WITH your peers for a common musical goal... not 1st violin accompanied by your peers.

April 2, 2007 at 06:20 PM · Pieter - the Stern-Rose-Istomin Trio was certainly one of the outstanding chamber groups of the 20th century. That is the basis of my comment.

April 2, 2007 at 06:33 PM · I've always wondered how Rose--who was arguably one of the finest cellists in the world of his generation --felt about collaborating with people like Stern and Istomin who were certainly well below his level.

April 2, 2007 at 08:05 PM · "Pieter - the Stern-Rose-Istomin Trio was certainly one of the outstanding chamber groups of the 20th century"

Tom ever hear the Heifetz, Piatigorsky, Rubenstein trio recordings? Enough said.

April 2, 2007 at 08:10 PM · Nate - I have Rubenstein, Heifetz and Feuermann, each arguably the 20th century's greatest virtuouso on his respective instrument, doing the Archduke and Schubert's opus 99. I will take Stern/Rose/Istomin. Sorry.

April 2, 2007 at 08:11 PM · Tom... I've heard a number of his chamber collaborations... the fact that he was in a group with famous people does not make it good. I find Heifetz trio to be much, much better. And, I don't like Heifetz.

April 2, 2007 at 08:21 PM · Pieter - I am not sure I understand the antecedent to the "his" and "he" in the first sentece of your post. I suppose we will just have to agree to disagree.

April 2, 2007 at 08:26 PM · As a friend of Aarons for many years he never broached the subject of Stern to me. He did say his career was better in Europe than here, but that's as far as he went. However, I have heard the accusations from other people.

Aaron also compared me to Heifetz once. A bit leary about that statement I said, "oh, really?" He said, "yes, you and he are similar in that you both have Arthritis in your shoulders." Then he laughed, blew the cigar ashes of his Guarneri and started playing again. A true gentleman and a wonderful ambassador for violinist worldwide.

April 2, 2007 at 11:33 PM · he and his refer to Stern.

April 3, 2007 at 12:40 AM · alright, let me say it and get it over with,,,,stern is a bad pudgy dude!

April 3, 2007 at 03:14 AM · No he's not. He's a decomposing mass of putrid flesh. So whatever you say sticks back on you.

April 3, 2007 at 03:40 AM · Sweet Jesus, I'd forgotten how much people dislike Stern.

April 3, 2007 at 01:02 PM · There are two kinds of people who should not have power--those who love it for its own sake and those who don't know what to do with it. Stern simply lived it for its own sake.

April 3, 2007 at 02:13 PM · incidentally, it is precisely those 2 types that get the power:)

April 3, 2007 at 02:50 PM · BTW - I noted from the article that Eileen Flissler was Rosand's ex-wife. For Vox they did wonderful recordings of the Beethoven violin and piano sonatas.

April 3, 2007 at 03:17 PM · So, information provided by students/friends of an artist ist fourth-hand, but an 26-year old article ist "the real thing"...hmmm...

BTW I think the Stern bashing fraction is exaggerating here. Who was capable of such warm and intensive playing can't be described as "bad" violinist, IMHO. And after listening to Stern/Zukerman/Rose in Mozart's K563 I tend to consider it the only recording that's "au pair" with the legendary Heifetz/Primrose/Feuermann rendition.

April 3, 2007 at 05:00 PM · I never said he was a "bad" violinist, maybe you have to read what I wrote a little more carefully. Stern's no Heifetz or Rosand, big deal..who is?

April 3, 2007 at 08:54 PM · I wish i didn't have to hear the other guy's name mentioned in a thread about Aaron Rosand.

By the way, great article. Rosand is one of my heroes. He is a truly amazing violinist and a classy human being.

April 4, 2007 at 12:35 PM · Hi,

Thank you for posting this article. Mr. Rosand remarkable candor, class and objectivity about his life really impressed me. About his skills as a violinist, of course, there is nothing to say except that he is fabulous.

Cheers!

April 5, 2007 at 05:46 AM · Stern was, along with Elman and Kreisler, among the most lyrical of violinists. His Schubert trios are breathtakingly gorgeous and songful like no others I've heard. His joy in living is powerfully communicated in countless recordings, including (like Kreisler) his priceless vignettes.

April 5, 2007 at 06:11 AM · i appreciate that he endorsed perlman and zukerman, and that he saved carnegie hall.

and now back to aaron rosand.

April 5, 2007 at 01:07 PM · Yes, back to Aaron Rosand; His career was interfered by Stern.

We don't really know the full impact resulted from Stern's controlling musical creativity. It's good that he saved some talents, making them possibly bigger than if all other talents were allowed on the scene. But who knows what it would have been if the classical music was dominated by more than a handful? We may have retained a bigger classical audience and talk less about the dire situation of classical music world today. I am a music consumer exclusively. Our annual household spending on classical music is considerable. I may be an exception but I am turned off by a few individuals dominating the scene. I at times choose to stay home rather than see the same great face again.

Ihnsouk

April 5, 2007 at 12:46 PM · You might be interested in a book by LeBrecht--Who killed Classical Music

April 5, 2007 at 01:15 PM · Who? Stern? Or the music industry promoting one or two artists excessively? I'll try to get the book from the library. Thanks.

Ihnsouk

April 5, 2007 at 03:10 PM · Nate, I really didn't mean you as one of the bashers, even if I find the choice of the IMO insipid, repetitive and uninspired Ernst concerto as division line between violinists "who can & who can't do it" rather strange...

And back to Rosand and the article, I think in the 70's/early 80's a little bitterness was common among violinists who were able and willing to play the virtuoso repertoire. Because of this, it would interest me a lot to read actual comments of Mr. Rosand on his career.

April 5, 2007 at 03:17 PM · An interesting point was made about the sometimes insipid nature of the virtuoso repertoire vs. the high-minded musically nourishing repertoire--Beethoven Bach, Brahms, etc.

There are almost two different kind of artists out there. Those who are so highminded that they never play the salon pieces that show off razzle dazzle technic and those whose technic can handle Bach but probably can't handle Paganini much less Wieniawski and Ernst.

It's kind of like being a tenor--Don Carlo is a fabulous role with glorious music but it will never thrill people like Donizetti's 9 high C's in Fille de Regiment.

April 5, 2007 at 03:27 PM · Mr Azneer,

I can only second your opinion. Next to that, virtuosity/pyrotechnics is an integral part of playing an instrument. Think of Kogan, Ricci and Prihoda. Or Horowitz, Barere and Cziffra.

Ronald

April 7, 2007 at 05:50 AM · Pasta, bread, potatoes and rice are "nourishing"...Music is another thing. And Horowitz, Barere, Kogan, Prihoda "et al" were all great musicians, who could (and did...) play a lot of "non-virtuoso" stuff. And I suspect that people who misunderstand someone disliking the Ernst Concerto with a general refusal of the virtuoso repertoire never have listened to it... Or (even worse) learned it, as I unfortunately had to...

April 8, 2007 at 05:01 AM · I have the original article - now yellowed and crumbly. And I still recall my intitial excitement at reading it, and subsequent enjoyment when I've re-read it. Long before I briefly but intensively sudied with him, Rosand had been one of my violinistic idols - and he still is.

I also have known people who have known him very well. I would rather not enter into the Rosand vs. Stern discussion at this time. I would just point out the following about Stern, the fiddler - not the musician, and not the "Godfather". When he was a young man, he was a blazing virtuoso. Has anybody seen the movie, "Humoresque"? 25 y.o. Stern does some awsome fiddling on that soundtrack. It's OK to like many different kinds of players in different ways.

A thought or two about 'fame'. How famous is famous? I think it's relative. Popular fame is one thing. Classical record sales almost never come close to those of popular stars. On the other hand - much to their relief, I'm sure - so far as I know, supermarket tabloids take no interest even in famous classical musicians. Within the purview of the classical music appreciating public, Rosand was never the household word that Stern, Oistrakh and Menhuin were, or that Perlman, Zuckerman, Bell, Mutter, Hahn are - to name a few. I've sometimes joked to friends that I'm actually famous - it's just that nobody realizes it! Yet, when it comes to somebody like Rosand, there's something to it. Just replace "nobody" with "not enough". I've been disappointed a number of times when a fairly aware classical music lover or even a non-violinist professional hadn't heard of him. Yet here is someone who has had a solo career since the 1950's. At his busiest, he performed over 100 concerts a year. He has made many recordings. I don't think he'd keep making them if people didn't buy them. Addtionally is his high-status position at Curtis - arguably one of the world's top conservatories. SOMEBODY must have heard of him! Yet, in some circles such as ours, he's almost famous for NOT being famous! But in some of these same circles, he's also revered as a "violinist's violinist" - one whose outsized virtuosity, gorgeous tone, great panache, and model form make him a favorite among violinistic cognoscenti.

So why isn't he more of a household name? This will be debated endlessly. Is it Isaac Stern? Some mistakes he, himself, may have made? That mysterious X-factor of fate? Be this as it may, I hope that at 80 years of age, and still playing beautifully, Rosand feels much more satisfaction than frustration. His many listeners certainly do.

April 8, 2007 at 01:14 AM · Jay - I got the book "Who killed Classical Music?" out of the library. The review from the New Yorker,

"Most people suppose that classical music is a genteel, dignified business, carried out by nice people with nice manners. Norman Lebrecht has made it his mission to prove that the business is in fact a sewer of greed and depravity, distinguishable from its vulgar pop sister only by its pretention and secrecy......"

Intriguing! Goes well with Easter.

Ihnsouk

April 8, 2007 at 05:28 AM · I certainly hope that Mr.Rosand receives his just due before he retires. Better late than never - and in this day when everything retro is considered cool, it would be a nice touch to have a true veteran receive a well-deserved reappraisal.

April 8, 2007 at 03:58 PM · Before I forget, Dion - I love your definition of perfect pitch!

Back to Rosand...For what it's worth, on the occasion of his recent 80th B-day, he received a citation from the mayor of Philadelphia, honoring his achievements. I feel that he ought to receive a Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in the Performing Arts. This has been called a "highlight event in the cultural life of the United States". Past classical music honorees have included Arthur Rubinstein, Leonard Bernstein, Nathan Milstein - and, you guessed it, Isaac Stern.

P.S. I hope that Rosand comes out with a memoir. That should be most interesting!

April 8, 2007 at 04:48 PM · Someone knowledgeable about Rosand should write a longer wikipedia entry for him.

April 8, 2007 at 11:16 PM · Thanks Raphael.

Perhaps a movie director could film a documentary on Rosand's life and career? I know the CBC in Canada did a similar film about Ida Haendel which helped raise her profile in the eyes of many classical fans.

April 9, 2007 at 03:44 AM · I very recently learned from Rosand's website that a short - I hope not too short!- documentary has indeed recently come out about him, called "violins & cigars"! I don't know the length. It's on 'you-tube', which I can't access well on my current operating system. They also say it will be on PBS. If anybody hears of it coming to Chanel 13 PLEASE let me know! I'm not clear as to its commercial availability.

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