Who is left from the 'golden generation'?

April 28, 2007 at 06:32 AM · what greats are left from the golden generation that was rostropovich, menuhin, stern, heifetz, horowitz, cziffra, etc.?

my friends and i thought of a few:

Ivry Gitlis

Ruggiero Ricci

Maurizio Pollini

Abrahm Shtern

Janos Starker

Replies (100)

April 28, 2007 at 07:44 AM · janos starker

ivry gitlis

ida haendel

vladimir ashkenazy (maybe)

leon fleisher

igor oistrakh

abrahm shtern

alfred brendel

Van Cliborn, duh

josef suk?

Joseph Silverstein

aaron rosand

igor ozim?

April 28, 2007 at 08:03 AM · Who cares. The "golden age" doesn't exist, it's an idea created by tireless nostalgic people who are too lazy to get with the times.

What was Ysaye and Joachim? The sterling silver age?

April 28, 2007 at 10:09 AM · im sorry.

Heifetz ----> joshua bell?

i dont think i want to "get with" these times. you can feel free :)

you should watch comments by people like Itzhak perlman on Art of the Violin. He pin points exactly why this was a golden age...where people like rostropovich hung around with shostakovich and had pieces written for him. thats the generation im talking about. its almost dead....slava is one of the last.

If you don't appreciate the beauty of the musicians from this age, you should really check them out - because they are special in a way that musicians arent these days.

I would say that people like Joachim and Ysaye started this generation of violinists. Although you can trace it back to Paganini, but there aren't any recordings to hear...

April 28, 2007 at 12:30 PM · This is a particularly poignant question at the passing of Rostropovich. The history of classical music is written in a series of flashes of brilliance, like shining stars. Each is unique, one-of-a-kind. Ysaye did not replace Paganini; Heifetz did not replace Ysaye; Perlman and Hahn do not replace Heifetz. And the next generation's shining stars will not replace today's.

Because, when you get down to it, each great performance of a great piece of music is the expression of an individual artist at a specific time and place. Each is a unique vision. The "Golden Generation" is wherever and whenever you find the best of the best who are giving their best.


April 28, 2007 at 01:16 PM · I'm in sympathy with the poignant feeling of nostalgia - all the more so with the passing of Rostropovitch. It takes nothing away from today's young stars to put a rightful halo on many of the greats of the past, who had a colorfulness and individuality that made them very special. As Elman said in "The Art of Violin" - "If today's generation is really that great, then they owe a debt of gratitude to us". We stand on the shoulders of giants. When I was a young boy, I almost got to hear Elman in an outdoor Summer concert (-the old and no longer existing Lewison Staium in NY-). It got rained-out, and he died shortly thereafter. I am glad to say that I heard Rostropovitch in the mid-70's perform a magnificent recital in Carnegie Hall. I also attended a public master class in Alice Tully Hall (in NY) given by Arthur Rubinstein.

To some extent, I think that a Golden Age can only be seen in retroactive perspective. But I feel that the list of Grand Old Masters of today should include in the violin department, Aaron Rosand, David Nadien, Joseph Silverstein, and Charles Libove. Among conductors, Anton Copola.

April 28, 2007 at 03:08 PM · The "Golden Age" was about playing music. This age is about contracts and money management first and music second.

April 28, 2007 at 03:35 PM · Like what Itzhak said on "Art of Violin"--back then everyone sounded different. (Nowadays, I can think of maybe two or three violinists that I can consistently recognize on the radio, in contrast to just about everyone from the "golden age.")

April 28, 2007 at 04:03 PM · Bravo Ray!

Your statement is unfortunately true...and how insidiously is the process by which our culture is allowing itself to be told what is "great".

It would be an interesting experience to take a truly average violin student, invest in a glossy photo flyer with airbrushed images, strategic fashion and/or lack of clothing, extracted quotes from the "career making" people, and a pushy and arrogant manager. We could then time how long it takes for them to become "internationally acclaimed violin soloists", demanding a high ticket price.

I think we must look deeper... and reward the real thing when it is discovered.

April 28, 2007 at 04:59 PM · Amen, Mr. Russell. :)

April 28, 2007 at 07:06 PM · I think what Mr. Russell proposed is only possible in a different genre of violin music. As long as audiences want to hear Tchaikovsky or Sibelius for the 1000th time and still not get enough of it, a truly average violinist will not do.

April 28, 2007 at 07:21 PM · Yea, I agree that they were wonderful, but I still think that today there is something to celebrate. Also, I definately have "checked" out these people of the golden age. You're welcome to peruse my rather large CD collection which features many of these violinists quite prominently. David Oistrakh is one of my favourite violinists.

What I like about now is that people don't always play every concerto the same. Mozart does not equal Brahms, and Bach is shed in a different light. I guess I never really see the point of these lists. Music is music, nothing has changed. There are as many great souls now as there ever were. Personally, I think people who always get nostalgic like this and put down new artists are just lazy. The great fashion designer, Karl Laagerfeld said that if you're always doing that, "commit suicide immediately". There's always something new. Also, you're being flippant by automatically jumping to the Joshua Bell conclusion. We both know there's something else out there too. You like Heifetz? I'll wager Ehnes, Znaider, and Zimmerman.

And Ray, I don't want this to turn into another Stern or Sol Hurok discussion, but to insinuate that 50 years ago was this utopia of musical fairies and magical diatonic fountains is really quite wishful thinking.

But, as for the thread, you'd definately have to say Aaron Rosand, and Ida Haendal. Whenever I go to see Ms. Haendal play, it's like seeing a living time capsule.

April 28, 2007 at 07:29 PM · "As long as audiences want to hear Tchaikovsky or Sibelius for the 1000th time and still not get enough of it, a truly average violinist will not do"


April 28, 2007 at 09:00 PM · I think the times in which we live have some influence on the present situation. We have almost instant information at our fingertips. We can download almost any performance of almost any piece ever written for comparison. Recording techniques make everyone sound relatively flawless. Even the acoustic in the studio can be manipulated. The dynamic range equalized,etc.

The above-mentioned violinists of the "Golden Age" were concertizing well before the advent of television! Wax 78s were the standard, then the really "high fidelity" LPs. These recordings were like treasure! The records were played over and over and over again to hear the nuances of expression... There were human flaws which were insignificant--even fondly memorable. There was no mass marketing of the concert artist.And there was no influence of the whole "instant gratification" thing created by television, advertising and marketing people. It was a MAJOR EVENT to hear a live performance on the radio. It was something worth stopping whatever you were doing to listen to. It was important.

Today, the false standard of commercial recordings, coupled with the demands of the culture for performers to look like a really cool CSI-type on stage (or at least a cover-shot model with just the right look of "sex that sells", and artists who are put forward into the "marketplace" to sell themselves .... AAAHHHHH! Its dizzying---and depressing!

What ever happened to the humble artist? Whatever happened to sitting quietly in a concert hall listening to something extraordinary, offered by an extraordinary individual who had the humanity, passion and humility to share it with the hungry masses? By the way--- What ever happened to the hungry masses? Could it be they are sitting back in a stupor of over-stuffed gluttony?

Today's technology is a wonderful TOOL. It has been abused and perverted into a way of life---and its showing in our culture. Simple and honest = good in my book. But, maybe I'm getting old.

April 28, 2007 at 09:11 PM · Digital editing, mainly intonation-fixing (but also measure-by-measure splicing), in my exceedingly humble opinion, should be outlawed. To me it seems like little more than artistic fraud.

April 28, 2007 at 09:19 PM · Agreed, Maura. But how do we convince the general public of that when commercial music is dependent on recorded sound even in concerts, and only "really" exists in recordings?

April 28, 2007 at 09:26 PM · One concert at a time?

April 28, 2007 at 09:47 PM · Or stop buying CDs.

April 28, 2007 at 10:04 PM · I think editing is an integral part of the process now, not cheating since it's not a competition, well it is, but you know what I mean. Glenn Gould used a phenomenal amount of splicing to build up just what he wanted, rather than having to settle for the best that could be done in a single take. There's that spliced video of Hillary Hahn on Youtube where her sleeve magically changes position throughout. You know that splicing wasn't done to fix technical problems.

I agree with David about the good ol' days. There's a lot of charm and in ways it was a more "raw" time I think. Live radio. I was looking at old photos that included middle-class houses, and you saw a lot of visible boards that didn't meet up. Steps going up to a porch where that first step was a doozy. No neighborhood association to make you take your grill inside with you're finished with it. And things like the great depression, labor riots and thugs. Can you imagine a President in a wheelchair today? For four terms. With folks like Cordell Hull around. You can use dogpile.com to google up lots of interesting audio, entire preserved radio programs for example.

April 28, 2007 at 09:50 PM · Jim, to me it DOES seem like cheating, because it is presenting a false picture of the artist. On the one hand somebody might say "Hey, great, Glenn Gould got to piece together little snippets of his playing to get exactly what he wanted, and bring forth his ideal artistic interpretation!" to which I reply, "But then is it even really Glenn Gould anymore, or an idealized, hypothetical facsimile?" Art may be served in one sense, but IMHO the human dimension is lost.

April 28, 2007 at 10:01 PM · I understand. On one hand it's false, and other things. On the other hand you can see it maybe like a painter who slaves over a picture, repainting parts of it. Nobody demands his first draft.

April 28, 2007 at 10:06 PM · I'm not demanding any musician's first take, what I demand is a complete take. :)

April 28, 2007 at 11:12 PM · Out of curiosity, then, should movies that include any type of editing be outlawed? Or are movies different from recordings? If so, how?

(I don't have an opinion one way or another, I just thought I'd put forth the question...)

April 28, 2007 at 11:53 PM · Emily,

It would be as if you went to see the "Spiderman" movie and were conditioned to believe he could fall from skyscrapers and jump over trains,etc. Then, you went to see the live stage-play. (Imagine Spiderman on Broadway :-) If you had grown up watching the movie with special effects, would you enjoy the stage play as much? Would you judge it negatively because the "effects" were not up to par?

Even if it were a good stage play,and they were successful in creating "amazing special effects", wouldn't it say something interesting about the influence of our immediate gratification/tv culture that they had to work so hard to fit into a mold that was "interesting" to a culture absorbed with these things? Would the role of the actor be diminished? Would the play even have a reason for being? After all, we can create the effects artificially...

April 29, 2007 at 01:39 AM · I know of a violinist who seems to get most of her airplay from recorded live performances. As if people like her playing but aren't anxious to make studio recordings. I don't hear mistakes or even anything I'd change, but it's got to be frustrating to have only one shot, while the competition edits things. It does make you respect her playing.

April 29, 2007 at 01:54 AM · I'm back-tracking a bit, sorry - but far from a form of laziness or blinkered (or whatever the aural equivalent) nostalgia, the conviction shared by some that there was such a thing as a golden age some 50-100 years or so ago, and the regret for its passing, is based on very tangible elements and a firm basis of knowledge of artists past and current. There are in our time some really wonderful, thought-provoking young performers with a distinctive voice, but the historical, social, cultural elements which led to such a flourishing of artistic expression at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries and for a few decades after that simply don’t exist anymore. The great musicians of those generations were absorbing directly from very deep roots, an essence that was in their mother’s milk as it were, and they were expressing themselves in conditions particular to those times, indeed which would in many ways be in complete contradiction with modern demands and pressures. Many lived through hardships, adventures, a wealth of life experience, which bled into their music-making in a way that would be nearly unthinkable today.

With regard to those artists still around, I’m going to put in a word for Camilla Wicks. Life circumstances and choices have meant she isn’ t as widely known as she should be, but she was one of the very greatest of violinists, by any yardstick. I was lucky enough to spend some time with her just recently and I’ve also had the good fortune of coming into contact with some of the other artists mentioned earlier. I can honestly say I’ve never come across such a sharp, insightful, imaginative musical mind as hers. She is one of the last remaining voices of that generation and furthermore a virtually unique case in those days of a woman who tried to juggle family and career. Incidentally, I’ve had this notion and encouragement to write a book about her – if some of her former students are out there, I’d love to hear from you in case such a project materialises.

Best, Nathaniel

April 29, 2007 at 03:30 AM · Nathaniel, the list is too diverse a group to have "historical, social, cultural elements which led to such a flourishing of artistic expression at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries" in common.

But sometimes trends converge into a phenomenon that has its day and then basically dissipates except for hangers-on. Gloomy maybe, but there are lots of examples. The hangers-on may be as good of an example as any ever were, but the phenomenon is over. That convergence seems to be what you're really talking about when you talk about the "deep roots," "essence," "wealth of life experience," and so on peculiar to those people. That isn't to say classical is going away any time soon, but it's a way of understanding changes within it.

April 29, 2007 at 03:35 AM · >what greats are left from the golden generation that was rostropovich, menuhin, stern, heifetz, horowitz, cziffra, etc.?

I asked myself this same question this morning. Feeling kind of sad in the process. Can't say I found a huge amount of answers in the posts that have followed here, but it's always interesting to read v.com members' thought-provoking responses on the current state of the industry. All well put. But in the end, they mostly circumvented your question. In truth? I think this is indeed one step closer to the very-close end of "the golden generation."

There it is. Hard to refute that the last generation was a different place in classical music, and that it is reaching its end. And hard to refute that the present is what it is, and no opinion or nostalgia is going to change that.

What the heck, let's argue and refute some more. Because that's pretty much what's defining this era of ours. Waking up, smelling the coffee, and then complaining about the brand or who made it or why we allowed them to make it or whether it was fair trade and you get the idea. I must say I like it.

April 29, 2007 at 06:49 AM · we are privilaged that we still "live" that generation. By that i mean we still feel it - it is not yet history. But to our children, it will be, and Itzhak perlman will become the heifetz. They will lose this connection to composers too - like the russians that worked with our favorite musicians and wrote pieces for them. this will all become a thing of the past soon. What will be the new "rostropovich-shostakovich" or the new "khachaturian-oistrakh"......"josh bell-john williams"?

im worried about the future!

i hope recordings alone can do it...because our children will never have the opportunity, like some of us, to have lessons with a Flesch student...or simply someone who's "been around" and just has that glow from that great era.

what will become of music/musicians when these people die? Will their traditions diffuse or will they be faithfully carried on?

i dont know...i dont htink it looks good...

April 29, 2007 at 07:59 AM · Mr. Kurganov,

I, being a 17-year-old, love the violinists of the "golden" era. heifetz, milstein, oistrakh, francescatti, elman, szeryng, grumiaux, ferras, rabin, neveu, haendel, etc. I love all of them...and I do believe that the 20th century was a great period in violin history, but I don't think that the violinists of today's generation are all that tarnished.

The violinists of today have shown and proven technically and musically that they are also wonderful violinists in their own right.

I love discussing shostakovich's struggles against the soviets and how rostropovich was exiled from his beloved homeland, but I also love talking about vengerov's childhood or chang's prodigious life.

I really don't think that you have to worry about the new generation of players...I mean...we aren't all that ignorant... :)

I've also taken lesson with teachers who have studied with szeryng, galamian, heifetz, and gitlis. Through these teachers I have learned the philosophies of violin playing in which these players believe in. I'm sure many other violinists my age (who have studied with teachers such as mine) have learned much about the techniques and thoughts of violinists of the golden era.

or at least, i hope that we, as in the new generation, are not ignorant fools!

April 29, 2007 at 08:09 AM · To Nathaniel,

I personally admire Camilla Wicks. My first teacher I ever studied with raved about her since the first day. He gave me her walton and brustao violin concertos album and tried to get me her sibelius recording, but couldn't find it.

It's a shame that she retired from concertizing (i believe it was to raise a family?) so early in her career. She's definitely one of my favorite violinists of all time. Oh and by the way, how is she? The last I heard of her was that her health was not so good these past few years and that she was cutting down her studio size.

April 29, 2007 at 12:06 PM · Speaking of art in general, I'm not sure of the state of painting and writing in America but in Australia they are both shot to s***. No-one knows what good painting is anymore. The novels are worse than horrible. All the big names suck worse than terrible. The top painting competitions are a disgraceful celebration of inartistic banality. Yet good artists exist. They do not win the prizes, and they do not get published. I think that classical music is probably in a healthier state than some of the other major art forms.

There will always be the genuine article out there, somewhere. The corporate money worshippers, who love money more than art and truth, are the ones who are running things. It is everywhere. Our universities are shadows of what they should be.

Even Science, as a strict discipline, is verging on a form of spiritual bankruptcy.

Rostropovich was a man of faith. He knew that life and humanity had real meaning, and that it was ultimately very good. That's important. Western civilisation was built on that foundation of faith.

April 29, 2007 at 11:01 AM · well... rostropovich died two days ago... so... i guess he's off the list

April 29, 2007 at 02:48 PM · Maura et al - I'm in sympathy with your feelings about retakes and editing in recordings. BUT when you get into that recording studio, it's a different ball game. I did some recording a couple of years ago for a CD that's still frustratingly stuck in post-production (but that's another story). Most of the selections (which were all short pieces) I did do in 2 or 3 complete takes, and they still needed a lot of editing, e.g. reverb (the hall was very dry), balance between the violin and piano, trying to edit out or minimize extraneous noises (e.g. squeeking piano pedals) etc. A few pieces (I won't tell which!) I did end up putting say the first 1/2 of take II with the 2nd 1/2 of take IV. A recording, somewhat like a movie, is one thing, and a concert, somewhat like a play, is another. I'm now sorry that I didn't record, just for myself, my recent recital. But even the best parts of it could not have been released because of extraneous noise. My CD will still have lots of flaws, along with concert-like intensity and flow (since even the sectioning was not very small sectioning, and I had no intonation machine!). But many people, including myself in the past, have the wrong idea about the recording process. It's harder than a concert, with even more pressure, since a recording is forever. Time is money, and you don't have an infinite amount of time to do an infinite amount of takes. When you do retaking of a section, you and your collaborator(s) have to match the same tuning, mood, tempo and intensity - every time. Also, such "little" things, which at a live concert might only be heard under the ear, and not even in the front row, as breathing, a grunt or two, fingers srongly articulating, the bow touching another string slightly and softly, a slight, unintentioned semi LH pizz. etc., are big things in a recording session. Post production editing can only do so much. Even if money is not a concern, there comes a point where stamina and muscle tone just give out -and 'that's a wrap'. So, after being this honest, if you don't want to acquire my humble CD, warts and all, when it comes out, I'll understand! But walk -or record- a mile in my shoes!

I have some distinguished company. The great cellist, Janos Starker told this story. When he was principal cellist of, as I recall, the Chicago Symphony, Heifetz came to record the Brahms. The great H. was warming up and warming up. Finally the recording engineer said "Excuse me, Mr. Heifetz, are you ready?" "I am NOT ready", came the reply, "but I'm not getting any ready-er!" Then Take I began, and H. proceded to give the most stunning performance of the Brahms Starker had ever heard - from beginning to end. But, says S., that's not the performance we hear on the recording. H. then chopped up the concerto into small sections and recorded them over and over for later editing and splicing. He knew he was expected to sound like - well, Heifetz - and even the great H. of the great Golden Age that I love, went a little nuts in the recording studio! What should a mere mortal like me say? Yes, I would love to be able to hear his Take I - but there it is.

April 29, 2007 at 03:35 PM · I know from my teacher Mr. Friedman (who recorded with him) that Heifetz hated doing inserts. He recorded pieces in straight takes from the top to the end. His idea behind doing this was that he did not want to sound any different from one of his live performances on his recordings. Incidentally, I think his live recordings are on the level of his studio recordings if not better. This would frustrate the production people with RCA who recorded Heifetz, cause instead of doing a small retake, he would insist on doing an entire concerto movement over until he liked it. That is why it took him 10 hours to record the Sinding Suite with the LA Phil.

April 29, 2007 at 05:35 PM · Maybe so. But the studio could have later done inserts. I don't know. I just looked up Starker's exact words: "The record issued was a composite of many hours of taping". I also agree re some live performances, which is true of Rosand and Nadien, as well. Here are a few quotes from John Pfeiffer, senior producor at RCA: "For H. a performance and a recording were two different experiences...He realized that a recording is permanent, that little things one forgets about in a performance become distracting with repitition...For a time he seemed to explore the ability of tape to be spliced. I think that was in the Bach Sonatas and Partitas...I always liked to do the editing with him myself..he...indicating which parts of which takes he preferred. I would then prepare a tape of the composite version, and he would approve from that." So he may have recorded complete movements over and over. But apparently he didn't just select whichever complete take he liked best, and was amenable to compositing. One thing is for sure. He didn't do it once, perfect or not, and then go home. And there's nothing wrong with that.

BTW, all my quotes are from the Strad of 2/86.

April 29, 2007 at 07:25 PM · Hi Jim, I agree and I was generalizing/simplifying for the sake of brevity. In summary, what I was referring to by the historical/social/cultural conditions these musicians had in common was their direct or close connection to various strands of music - gypsy, klezmer, the various dance inflections of the salon genre and a range of vocal traditions –which informed their playing in similar ways across borders: a particularly subtle sense of timing and articulation, a vocal, often nearly spoken style, with often a strong narrative, story-telling element. There was a heightened sense of the instrument as an extension of the human voice in its different manifestations, and I feel also a more tangible closeness to nature. Of course people who believe there was a golden age will have differing opinions about just when it was. In my mind it encompassed a few generations loosely between violinists from Kreisler (or very conceivably Ysaye) to Ferras and Rabin born in the mid-1930s. Certainly for the earlier generations of that Age, their training was much more self-sufficient, demanding a more personalised exploration of the instrument and allowing for their innate temperament to grow fairly unfettered. And they lived through periods of historical and geographical turmoil, often leading to some form of exile, a conjunction of Old World and New which made for rich personalities and a special musical brew.

Patrick, don’t feel that your generation is put in the shade by these kind of opinions! I have many students around your age and for that matter I’m not that old myself (well, I don’t think so anyway). If you (as in, all of us) have something of yourself to give through the music, and to serve the music with, it is worthwhile, even precious, on its own terms. But I do think it’s really important to tap into what the old masters had to say – as you obviously do, which is great. I find that with my students, those who value this heritage seem to systematically have an added dimension to their playing. First- and second-hand contact will die out, and for that reason recordings are our connection to the past. When I spent time with Ms.Wicks there was a strong, actually quite moving sense that she wanted to transmit to me certain things that were important to her so that I in turn could pass them down through the years. By the way, to answer your question, she has retired and is not in ideal health, but her tremendous force of character pulls her through. As for her Sibelius, it’s now out on a Biddulph CD, with a fantastic collection of short pieces. There’s also a great Music & Arts CD with live recordings, including the Beethoven Concerto, Bloch, Tchaikovsky. You should find these easily through the internet, ebay, etc. More releases will be forthcoming.

The recording "to splice or not to splice" debate is a tricky one...well, one could spend half one's life discussing on v.com.

Best, Nathaniel

April 29, 2007 at 08:31 PM · The golden age has essentially disappeared because the individuality of spirit that made those artists so striking has been erased by the people who run the music industry. They want personalities that are easily substitutable. That allows for someone to drop out and be easily replaced. Substitute Menuhin for Heifetz and you could have full blown revolt Substitute Bell for Vengerov and 6 people will be offended. IMO!

April 29, 2007 at 09:21 PM · Comparing Bell and Vengerov in artistic personality or even their approach to the instrument is demonstrative of how woefully ignorant most people are of reality. I would agree that some soloists bore me, and maybe the average conservatory student isn't as interesting as many years back, but I think the best of the best now is as good as ever.

Just because someone had the benefit of being born 70-100 years old, does not make them more unique or interesting. It seems as if the death of classical music will be people like these, who don't know what they have, and will not know until it's gone. How pathetic... how sad.

I should add, that if you know and can articulate what made Milstein, Heifetz, and many others great (from the past), then there wouldn't be this whole spiel about nowadays being worse off. Clearly you can't even tell the greatness of Heifetz, if cannot hear the individuality, wonderful execution and charisma in the recordings and performance of people like James Ehnes, Frank Peter Zimmerman, Leonidas Kavakos, or Mr. Gringolts. They all play as well as any of them, all with a unique sound, and all have remarkable interpretations of the classics. If you can't see that, then you have no business saying Oistrakh or his ilk are great, because you clearly don't even know what made Oistrakh great.

April 29, 2007 at 09:47 PM · You're right Pieter--instead of Vengerov I should have said Hahn.

April 29, 2007 at 10:43 PM · You substituted Bell for Vengerov and you got a full-blown revolt just like you said...

Ok, for the woefully ignorant among us, namely me, how come?

April 29, 2007 at 11:48 PM · By the time our really fine fiddler's have gone through the gauntlet of competitions they have had every bit of individuality beaten out of them. You don't win competitions by doing something even slightly different from what's expected of you. Even if you began as a truly individual spirit what do you think remains after the homogenizing process of the competition circuit?

April 29, 2007 at 11:54 PM · Jay...

That idea that competitions beat the individuality out of you is just such BS. Listen to Hadelich. There is no one who sounds like that... he makes these very idiosyncratic accents that I've never heard any violinist do.

Then look at Sergey Khachatryan... huge competition winner. I'd say he won BECAUSE of his personality. Then, move on to Kavakos. Another big winner in competions... listen to any of his recordings. They're sublime.

Like in everything else, when people discuss who is the greatest athlete, the greatest James Bond, or the best this or that, 99.9% of the people will regurgitate whatever some expert or well known person will say, so as to not expose themselves to the possibility of being wrong. Sean Connery is always the best Bond. Godfather 1 and Casablanca are the best classic films... these are things that big film buffs all the way to people who haven't even seen these movies will say. It's tradition, like that stupid slide in the begining of the Tchaikovsky.

Stop listening to what everyone else says just because that's what you're supposed to say, and go buy some recordings. Go listen to Frank Peter Zimmerman's live Brahms recording with Berlin Phil of the Brahms, coupled with Mozart G-. Distinctive to be sure.

Also, I think we should be careful about the word "personality", because in any ways, I think the only one that matters is the one of the composer. I cannot stand people fabricating personality in a performance. Naturally, someone with a great artistic personality will shine through any work. What I think you mean is a distinct sound and approach to the violin, which I'm telling you exists in spades, and the variety is quite abundant. Do I think there are a slew of competition zombies out there? Yea, if you watch a lot of them like me, you'll start to notice trends. However, the best always rise to the top, and I think you'll do yourself a great service to put down the oldies for a while and listen to what the youngsters are saying.

April 30, 2007 at 12:31 AM · Ugh, Pieter, I know exactly which slide you're talking about in the beginning of the Tchaik. HATE it!! :)

I'll agree that competition-mania has had some unhealthy effects on the music world, but it's pretty extreme to say that competitions have totally sucked the individuality out of everyone. Take your own example of good Mr. Vengerov. That guy won competitions all over the place, and like him or hate him, you've got to admit he has personality and individuality in truckloads. I could also mention (even though Pieter beat me to it) Indy winners Augustin Hadelich and Barnabás Kelemen, Queen Elizabeth winner Sergey Khachatryan, etc.

Maybe competitions only squeeze the individuality out of those who were kind of mediocre to begin with? Just a theory...

April 30, 2007 at 12:49 AM · I still believe we live in a time of a very high general standard, much higher than the past, but the level of soloists are not on the same plane. I've seen the best out there live and on CD, and no one has touched me like for instance, Milstein's Goldmark or Heifetz's Scottish Fantasy. The way these guys were able to phrase one note to the next will be a testament to great bowing technique for a long time. The art of vibrato is a dying art. I hear too much of one speed and this includes top players. Milstein's and Heifetz's vibrato produced so many shades of color in a organic, non affected way. Then there are people like Stern, who became famous for NOT vibrating.

There is something intangible that jumps out of these recordings. I think there was a freshness to their playing. In the "old" days, soloists like Oistrakh played less than 80 concerts a year. Now, soloists play twice that many. I feel sometimes that I hear "jetlag" performances because of the saturation of concerts. It is interesting to note the similarity to orchestral concerts to this idea.

There is a famous story about Oistrakh. He was practicing in a hotel before a concert and Shostakovich was next door, listening to him practice. Apparently, Oistrakh practiced as if he has never played the piece. Shostakovich knocks on his door and says, "My dear friend, you must have played this concerto a 1000 times! Why are you still practicing?" Oistrakh answered, "Because I want people to hear me play this as if it was my first time." That is integrity - something that is lacking in our world, not just the music scene either.

April 30, 2007 at 12:50 AM · Last response Pieter,

I've been listening to recordings since before you were born, and then I admittedly spent 25 years singing opera which left me out of most of the violin world. but when I heard Hlavacek, and Zehetmeier(sp?), and Zimmerman, and Bell, I kinda decided that there was more nourishment to be had from recordings of Oistrakh then from live performances of some of the youngsters who have more attitude than they have something to say. Can they play a lot of notes--sure they can. Does it matter to me, so far they haven't convinced me that they know much other than how to play a lot of notes. As for your insisting on come scritto--I heard the argument the first time around from Toscanini who famously tinkered with scores. So I'm not impressed by your passionate flaming of the past. The present attitudes haven't changed much but the internet makes us more aware of everyone's POV. Pity that.

PS Try to win a competition if you study with the wrong teacher.

April 30, 2007 at 12:58 AM · "wrong teacher"? Eh?

Kevin--good point about the "jet lag performances". Sometimes I look at the concert schedules of some of our top players and I get dizzy just imagining it.

April 30, 2007 at 01:05 AM · Well, I maintain what I say about the classical music world imploding because of the ignorance of its own audience.

Thanks for your time...

April 30, 2007 at 01:48 AM · >Just because someone had the benefit of being born 70-100 years old, does not make them more unique or interesting. It seems as if the death of classical music will be people like these, who don't know what they have, and will not know until it's gone. How pathetic... how sad.

Oh, don't get your knickers in a twist, Pieter. Can't you see the "golden generation" from a different angle? In truth, I've always looked at it, not from how the violinists sound, because I'm not qualified in the least to judge any of yesterday's or today's top violinists. They play pretty music and it makes me cry. Voila.

To me, the "golden generation" is the veneration those musicians instilled in the public. I mean, there were TV shows that featured violinists. I look at all those old clips from The Art of the Violin, and from my David Oistrakh CD, and I marvel at what a different world that was. It just seemed like a gentler America. A very romantic one. One where classical music was HAPPENING. Or maybe I'm naive, and just choosing to focus on that stuff from the black and white footage I watch. I just think it was a very different era.

And yes. I will always think of musicians from that era as special people. They -- and the media, and that post-war culture -- made classical music as mainstream as it's ever going to get. 98% of my recordings feature today's big-name violinists. I prefer recent recordings. I love Gil Shaham, YoYo Ma and Joshua Bell.

Rostropovich's death made me feel very sad. And I just feel like honoring the group of musicians he represented. And the very very interesting years they lived through.

So there.

PS - should you prefer to keep your knickers in a twist, please do post pictures.

April 30, 2007 at 02:03 AM · Pieter wasn't trashing the golden generation, he was complaining about the tendency of some people to trash the CURRENT generation....at least that's how I read his comments.

April 30, 2007 at 02:27 AM · Okay, Maura, I'll give you that, but I still think this:

>Who cares. The "golden age" doesn't exist, it's an idea created by tireless nostalgic people who are too lazy to get with the times

is knicker-twist-worthy, particularly given the reason the classical music world has this week to feel a little bereft and/or nostalgic.

But Pieter knows I love him, right, Pieter? Wait... what's that little voodoo doll in your hand? Why, it looks like... ouch! Where did that stab of pain in my back just come from?!

Sorry. Off in my fiction writing world and it tends to color my replies...

April 30, 2007 at 02:54 AM · Again, I think it was more a complaint about the trend towards idealizing the past at the expense of the present. I love the phrase "knicker-twist-worthy", though. ;)

April 30, 2007 at 02:57 AM · >Again, I think it was more a complaint about the trend towards idealizing the past at the expense of the present.

You're right, of course. Oh, dammit, Maura, will you stop being so reasonable and likeable all the time?! It really makes my job as a crab and/or the devil's advocate intensely difficult.

We really need better smilicons here, don't we? So I can follow that comment with a "wink wink nudge nudge" smile, or a kiss-kiss smile. Because you know I love you, too, Maura. You rock. You are V.com gold.

Now then. Go away so I can be snarky in peace.

April 30, 2007 at 03:17 AM · Hi,

OK - my own two cents which I shouldn't be probably doing...

The great players of the past were great. But, there are fantastic performers today as well. Look at Vengerov, Repin, Ehnes, Stefan Jackiw, Frank Peter Zimmerman and many others... (my apologies if your name was not on this too brief a list). Something that puts things in persepctive is perhaps that DVD of Great Violinists at the Bell Telephone Hour. Something of their live performances...

I don't know... True, recordings are different. Realities of those who will get careers also (forget the middle aged, bald but outrageously talented performers). But, that doesn't mean that there are not great players around.

In this regard, the best quote for me is one by Ysaÿe who admonished one of his talentend by simple minded students: "One should listen to an artist for what he/she has to offer, not what we want them to offer."

Cheers! - and my best to all the wonderful talented musicians currently on stage putting themselves out night after night afer night after... Those who were great but passed on - my best to you as well and thank you for your legacy!

April 30, 2007 at 03:22 AM · Christian, you always say it well. Always nice to hear your take - thanks.

April 30, 2007 at 08:47 AM · I apologize, but I cannot help feeling that way. As a younger person with a whole life to live, it is very difficult to accept that the best has already been, and that in this life, I can only look at this venerated time period through a foggy porthole. But, if it "must be", then I'd rather realize this when I'm no longer capable of doing anything about it.

April 30, 2007 at 10:45 AM · Pieter,

There is always hope for the present and the future. It comes when we sift through our values and find meaning in what we do with the music. If the music is respected and viewed as something bigger than we are, the playing somehow seems different---better.

I suppose today there are too many temptations to use repertoire as a "stepping stone" to one's own career conquest (i.e. when the artists primary motivation is "I'm playing 'Tchaik' with the (name big orchestra here), with Sir Roger Flailalot, conducting so I can get a record deal and a new photo layout so I can glorify my beautiful self and immortalize myself in the process)then we have it entirely backwards, IMO.

There was a time when Tchaikovsky Concerto was deemed "Difficult". Perhaps even "meaningful". If it is not that way so much today as it was, I suggest it is due to a major paradigm shift in what it means to be a successful artist today.

I know and love many of the concertizing violinists today--this isn't against them. It is against the trend we have taken as a whole. It is especially against the ones who make this road the path of least resistance (manager's, concert promoters, recording producers, the general public who is sometimes expecting to superhuman from the human, and our tv conditioned society.)

Bring back the ugly middle-aged men who have something to say.(This is not self-promotion ;-) Maybe we would all learn to love and respect our art again and bring new life to it. We would cease being our own worst enemies.

OK. Agree or disagree, I've said my bit on this. Hope its in some way helpful.

April 30, 2007 at 12:48 PM · just think, 3 hundered years from now, some wiseguy may put all players now and in the past into one group and call it the stone age generation. so, might as well save the breath and smell the roses:)

April 30, 2007 at 01:41 PM · Terez--reasonable and likable?! Oh no, I'm failing in my job as V.com's official resident hot-blooded Hungarian, aren't I? :)

Pieter, don't apologize, you make a lot of very valid points. Though I do heartily agree with Mr. Russell's condemnation of the over-commercialization (or whatever you want to call it) of much of the current generation.

April 30, 2007 at 01:54 PM · Mr Russell,

When artists choose to take the path of least resistance, why should we, the audience care about their art? Everywhere around us, we find examples of easy choices. We turn to artists for escape. We see more of the same in arts. Pieter, I am sorry to praise Golden Age one more time. They say Milstein refused to give more than 30 concerts a year to give his best in each concert. I heard Joshua Bell was on the road every week last year except one. Could it be that the audeience sense the lack of devotion on the part of artists and stop being moved to pay over $100 to attend a concert? If so, the audience is being smart to turn them off.


April 30, 2007 at 02:47 PM · Mr. Russell - Good stuff.

I like how Sandy calls this generation a new "golden" age...there is a lot behind that idea...like what Mr. Russell said there was a time where the Tchaik was deemed "impossible" and now ten year olds can play the hell out of it. What bothers me about this current generation is the apathy of students towards their older peers. When I was at Aspen, I would get into discussions with very good violinists and they thought Francscatti was just the editor of the International Edition. Wow. Or that Milstein played out of tune...I love that one...

My old youth orchestra conductor (Joe Primavera, if their any PYO alums here, who played in Philly O with Ormandy and Stokowski) )used to tell us if we were in the 50's most of us would be able to play in a big orchestra. Now it is almost impossible to win such a job... makes you wonder if this present "golden" age is a good thing or a bad one...

BTW, I would consider Aaron Rosand an exponent of that generation...

April 30, 2007 at 03:03 PM · I'm sitting here listening to Takacs play Beethoven op.18 and reading responses to the effect that today's players are somehow inferior to those of the recent past.

I never fell for that type of BS before and i'm not falling for it now.

I appreciate the playing of Menuhin, Oistrakh, Wicks, Neveu, Francescatti, Milstein, Rosand, Rabin, Szeryng, Ricci, Heifetz, etc. for what it was because i love hearing grand violin performances. I also appreciate the playing of Mutter, Ehnes, Fischer, Zimmerman, Takezawa, Kavakos, Manze, Kelemen, Repin, Hahn, Rachlin, Jackiw, Midori, and the list goes on and on. We have some outstanding violinists concertizing in this decade. Joshua Bell is not the modern day standard for these players, they all have their own unique voices on their respective instruments. Please give them some respect!

In my heart i believe we are in another Golden Age of violin performance and today's players take a back seat to nobody from the past. Khatchatryan plays with the same level of passion a young Perlman had. Zukerman and Kremer are in the primes of their careers. Yes Rostropovitch worked with Shostakovitch but Kremer has also worked with Part and Gubaidalina, Josefowicz records much modern material, Mutter commissions works from Lutoslawski and Previn, Robert McDuffie concertizes with many modern works, and Cho Liang Lin received a beautifully created violin concerto from Christopher Rouse in 1991. There is no shortage of musical activity on the modern stage.

My point is this: every era has greatness in it. It takes much more courage to admit that fact than it does to glorify the past.

I think we're getting away from an important consideration. Maestro Rostropovitch was a great artist because he was a great human being. 'The industry' didn't make him that. Neither did 'the old way of playing' or 'being born back in the good ol' days' or any such thing. The high quality of choices he made during his lifetime and resulting wisdom gained from his experiences made Rostropovitch a great human being. If we lost anything, that's what we lost: a fully idealized person who understood how to live well in this crazy world.

April 30, 2007 at 03:26 PM · I guess it depends what you are looking for. Todays musician is a thinking musician. There are so many articles and letters uncovered that were not available fifty years ago. We now have Henle, Barenreiter etc. that give us "authentic" ideals towards the piece. Much of the interpretations of yesteryear were done with more instinct, since thwy lacked the resources of today. Mozart was played hyper-romantically, with plenty of slides and much more legato playing. Bach was an alien idea to most violinists in the 50's. Szigeti and Milstein really brought it to light during their careers. The openess of interpretation was evident throughout this generation. Now with all of our resources, musicians can really use their intellect and hearts instead of just leaning to one side. It makes you wonder if these "parameters" are helping or defeating the art.

I can't think of anyone who can play a Kriesler piece like Kriesler. Maybe Perlman. Compare Milstein's Nocturne in C sharp, versus say, Midori's. Midori is obviously an amazing player, but there is something in Milstein's sound that projects an old world nostalgia that hard to beat. (Midori might even have a more complete left hand technique, as shown in her live performance of The Last Rose of Summer.) Even the first note is played with such a silken tone that it could melt the hardest listener. There is a quote by Gingold, (not exact one, just the jist of it) "the youth now plays so well, with much academic thought and perfect execution, but something is missing."

BTW, the quartet scene has only gotten better since the days of the Budapest SQ. I think the best music making is the quartet scene. Takacs, Miro, Tokyo, the list goes on...

April 30, 2007 at 04:12 PM · >Maestro Rostropovitch was a great artist because he was a great human being. 'The industry' didn't make him that. Neither did 'the old way of playing' or 'being born back in the good ol' days' or any such thing. The high quality of choices he made during his lifetime and resulting wisdom gained from his experiences made Rostropovitch a great human being. If we lost anything, that's what we lost: a fully idealized person who understood how to live well in this crazy world.

Well put!

April 30, 2007 at 05:17 PM · Mr. Russell,

I think we agree totally on this subject, I just think that there are younger people, who aren't short and bald who happen to have something to say. It's not a large group of people, as I've stated, but I think some of the artists I've mentioned have a great deal of respect for the music. I don't think there's any greater "servent" to composers than James Ehnes. I saw his Mendelssohn a few weeks back and it was sublime. I can say the same of Kavakos's Brahms.

PS. I hate "Tchaik" and "Shosty". I never say these words, and when people say them, I feel as if they're referring to some gymastics exercise. I'm all against artifice.

April 30, 2007 at 05:25 PM · Incidentally Pieter,

They weren't all short and bald,(Heifetz, Milstein--case in point) but your personifying them that way says a great deal about your own prejudices.

April 30, 2007 at 05:25 PM · Pieter,

I think we agree on this too.Its a continuation of our discussion in Montreal...

The post about Pinchas Zuckerman and CBC interviews-- look up the link to Bruch Scottish Fantasy and listen to what he says about the way the "old guys played"... It was interesteing to me. He started to say some of the same things I mentioned earlier about television and computers, etc.


April 30, 2007 at 05:35 PM · Well the classical field has always been youth oriented more so than pretty much anything else. That aspect, really hasn't changed a bit. Pretty much no one of fame has made a name for themselves as soloists starting their careers at age 40 or even 16 is late. The general public is not interested in someone who does not look young, call it shallow that is just how it is.

PS - I have always thought the Tchaikovsky VC is one of the most meaningful gems of the violin literature.

April 30, 2007 at 06:03 PM · Mr Azneer,

I gather English is not your first language?

The short and bald thing is something I took from someone else's post. It was not my idea. Please learn to read before posting, thank you. Personally, someone's height and the amount of hair they have is of no concern to me. Both are things they can do literally nothing about.

April 30, 2007 at 06:05 PM · Nate, Oistrakh was almost 30 before he really hit the big time. And if the general public "just isn't interested in anybody who doesn't look young", explain Itzhak Perlman's enduring popularity! :)

Pieter, I've always thought of "Tchaik" and "Shosti" as just affectionate nicknames for the composers, not so much as "artifice." Then again, I'd never dare to call Bartók "Bart".....

Jay, chill out. (Incidentally, I once heard a rather famous violinist of today refer to the violinists of the "golden age" as "the Old Men of Central Europe"--I kind of like that.) :)

April 30, 2007 at 06:06 PM · Maura, it's more about the fact that "Tchaik" and "Shosty" is just too nerdy for words, and the fact that it makes them sound like exercises... like some level in swimming that you have to complete. It's depressing... Beethoven has the same amount of syllables as Tchaikovsky. I guess now he's good ol' Beet?

April 30, 2007 at 06:09 PM · Yeah, I see your point--come to think of it, the first time I heard people talking about "Tchaik", I'm pretty sure I thought something like "oh my god, what a bunch of middle-school-orchestra dorks." Just got used to it I guess.....

April 30, 2007 at 06:51 PM · Beethoven is far easier to type fo rmost people, and people are generally more familiar with his name than Tchaikovsky, so they don't mess up the spelling.

April 30, 2007 at 06:52 PM · armand... people don't write it... they say it. Go to any conservatory in north america... "tchaik tchaik tchaik" all day.

April 30, 2007 at 06:47 PM · Maybe this is starting a new trend.

Let's hear Hah play Wien, and Zuck play Moz, and Man play Viva, and Mutt play Schub, and Kreme play Proko. (Kind of has a kick to it, doesn't it?)

April 30, 2007 at 07:05 PM · Egad, they say "Tchaik"?

That's just.....wow.

Maybe I could understand them abbreviating it if they had to use it CONSTANTLY but still...

If I ever hear someone say, "Oist played a charming Sib" I might have to consider that Japanese ritual suicide method.

April 30, 2007 at 07:10 PM · Armand? Sepoku? :)

April 30, 2007 at 07:10 PM · Armand...

"Hey... are you in orchestra for Tchaik 4?"

"Our quartet is playing Shosty 8".

April 30, 2007 at 07:42 PM · Maura - Oistrakh made his solo debut in Moscow when he was 19, a few top prizes at the Wieniawski and Ysaye followed soon after.

Perlman was already playing on the Ed Sullivan Show at 13 -- yes he wasn't playing many concerts then compared to the amount of concerts he played at 25, but the point is he started his career young like practically every other major soloist.

April 30, 2007 at 09:14 PM · Nate, my bad. I guess I was thinking about how he got famous in the West when he was about 30.

Regarding stupid things with composers' names...a couple years ago at Encore there were so many people playing the Sibelius that, out of sheer necessity, we decided that the plural of "Sibelius" must, of course, be "Sibelii."

April 30, 2007 at 10:46 PM · Greetings,

if you put togtehr Sibelius and Sinding you get Sibling.

There does seem to be a lot of sibling rivalry around these days at music institutes.



April 30, 2007 at 11:38 PM · Szyerng and Francescatti are prime examples of a late bloomers in the soloist field.

May 1, 2007 at 12:45 AM · Former student of Camilla Wicks here.. :)

She retired from SFCM in the spring of 2005 and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate. She has since moved to Washington State to be near some of her family.

I should also mentioned that sometime soon she has a CD of previously unreleased works coming out soon. I'm really excited about it. :)

May 1, 2007 at 05:31 AM · I read the beginnings of this thread right before playing a concert on Saturday, and thought all weekend about how to respond. Now there have been many many more responses and my input seems a little late but here it is anyway.

It seems that there is a perception that artists today are obsessed with image and marketing values rather than musical ones - and that any reasonably good looking person could, with the right marketing materials, make a career. I'd argue that the best and most successful musicians have always been aware of marketing, image, and their performances as a kind of "brand" and that the best of the best are able to use that to their advantage. When you look at publicity shots of the artists being discussed here - Milstein, Heifetz, even Szigeti - they are in line with studio shots of Hollywood stars of the same era. Is it so strange that today's musicians feel they have to compete for publicity with the current equivalent?

As a performer I am constantly surprised and sometimes shocked at how much image comes into play. My quartet has experienced both sides - where our marketing choices have worked both for and against us. One thing I think we all have in common with those in the "golden generation" is that we want people to come hear us play. Whatever it takes to get people in seats to hear things like Beethoven's string quartets, Mozart's violin concerti, and new works by the 'living Beethoven' out there - it is worth it.

Just my .02


May 1, 2007 at 01:45 PM · What kind of image and how does it come into play? As an audience, I prefer when players are not very visible, in plainly tailored black and white or something ordinary that I won't notice or remember afterwards. I am annoyed that when I hear a line of music from a concert I attended recently in my head, the bare shoulder of the soloist who played it comes up with it.


May 1, 2007 at 03:15 PM · Interesting comment Ihnsouk. But the only players that I can think of who came to prominence in middle age are Oistrakh and Szeryng. I mention this only because of your discussion of appearance and they all are part of the same discussion.

Szeryng was a very handsome man who was Flesch's last major student(I think) in any event he was teaching Mathematics in Mexico at university when a friend introduced him to Rubinstein who subsequently called his agent and engineered his first important meeting. Szeryng indeed looked very dashing and You tube has the footage that backs my assertion.

Oistrakh came here as almost an unknown in the West. He was a professor in Russia and also had a career there and in the Eastern bloc but he had no Western exposure. He was a short fat man when he came to prominence and his playing was the defining feature that made him so great. I suspect that he was the last of his kind to come to prominence in that way in the last half of the 20th century.(Although he too was quite svelte at the beginning of his career as films testify.)

I've long suspected that people choose performers who look like themselves so that they as an audience can more easily relate to them. By the the same token I believe that part of the reason Caruso was able to have the career he had was because he was singin to an audience that basically looked like him. Today no singer could come to prominence looking like that--even Pavarotti was quite svelte when he first started his career. SO you can't discount the appearnace factor at all. Of copurse in this day when Obesity is almost a norm but Madison Avenue controls image rather tightly Much of this argument may not wash. In any event I think the following is still valid.

Boris Goldowski had a theorem for careers called the addition of zeros. Take the following categories and mark them x or zero, talent, musicianship, appearance, personality, intangibles. If there is even one zero in the final addition it is questionable whether that person can have a career.

May 1, 2007 at 06:01 PM · Never mind. I tried to say something intelligent, but it got mushed in with this babble about fashion.

May 1, 2007 at 04:19 PM · >As an audience, I prefer when players are not very visible, in plainly tailored black and white or something ordinary that I won't notice or remember afterwards. I am annoyed that when I hear a line of music from a concert I attended recently in my head, the bare shoulder of the soloist who played it comes up with it.

That's funny - I just love it when the female soloists wear something gorgeous and flowing. Sarah Chang's dress when she played Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata back in early April was just exquisite and I loved the multi-sensory experience of enjoying the music, the colors, the flowing of the material, the glitters, the bare shoulders. Just loved it. Interestingly, she changed during the intermission (how common is this for a recital?!) and I didn't like the second dress quite so much - it made me sad that I couldn't have the same experience, although I did like the repertoire more in the second half. (She played a brilliant Prokofiev Sonata no. 2 with pianist Ashley Wass - I blogged about it here.)

Conversely, when I heard Nadja S-S play a few weeks later (also chronicled in my blog), I was disappointed that she'd clearly chosen an "It's not about the clothes, dammit, it's about the music" outfit, and while I greatly enjoyed her playing, I didn't have that same visceral pleasure of seeing a flowing ball gown, which I just love. Call me a girly kind of girl - except that I'm not. I don't dress up much, but I have to say, I love it when others do, and the symphony is one time I particularly crave it. I guess I like having a multi-sensory experience when I hear music.

May 1, 2007 at 04:33 PM · Regarding my above post, I should add that if a male soloist were to show up in something flowing and glittery and exposing bare shoulders, it might be a wee bit distracting. So, please amend the above opinion to encompass this somewhat sexist bias.

May 1, 2007 at 04:26 PM · OK, so what color thong should you wear to play Beethoven, as opposed to Prokofiev?

May 1, 2007 at 04:32 PM · Black silk.

Lavender cotton, with little glitters on the waistband.

May 1, 2007 at 05:03 PM · Sander, there's a big difference between a woman musician wearing an elegant, formal gown, and selling out to the dogma of "sex sells."

May 1, 2007 at 05:21 PM · Maura I understand your ire, but musical performance is exactly that a performing art. Otherwise I'd stay home and listen to Oistrakh recordings.

May 1, 2007 at 05:47 PM · What ire? I was defending the wearing of gorgeous concert dresses, at least that's what I meant to do.

May 1, 2007 at 05:52 PM · >Sander, there's a big difference between a woman musician wearing an elegant, formal gown, and selling out to the dogma of "sex sells."

Oh, wait. I thought Sandy was asking for recommendations.

Oh. Never the black satin, in that case. Best to stick with white cotton.

May 1, 2007 at 06:17 PM · Terez, Funny how we are so opposite to each other. I loved Nadia S-S for her simple outfit when she played a Bach here last year. I remember her playing much more clearly.

Jay, In a live performance I look forward to musical exchanges with performers being in the same place while the music is being made. That experience is, in my case, interrupted when I am distracted by what they wear. For me it's harder to get to the music they play. In my opinion. music is far more expressive than anything they can put on.

I am surprised that I am so alone on this issue. I have a brother-in-law who goes to all over the place to attend a concert. We rarely agree with each other. But on this we are together.


May 1, 2007 at 06:58 PM · Only one comment: Pollini is a whole later generation that people like Gitlis, Stern, or Ricci.

He's very much a modern player.


May 1, 2007 at 07:02 PM · Thanks for the advice and feedback, but I have two strikes going against me:

1. I look lousy in anything sexy.

2. My violin playing is as lousy as I look.

May 1, 2007 at 07:19 PM · >Never mind. I tried to say something intelligent, but it got mushed in with this babble about fashion.

Kimberlee! Put it back in. Please? I'm sorry you got sandwiched - I saw your intelligent comments (and yes, they were) AFTER I posted - I took too long in seeking an eloquent way of talking fluff.

I like what you said. Particularly since you referenced me. : )

May 1, 2007 at 08:53 PM · Reading this thread again...i chuckled at how far we deviated from the thread topic...we went from discussing players of the golden era to what choice in thongs we prefer... :)

May 1, 2007 at 08:59 PM · From: Skowronski: Classical Recordings

When you really stop and think about it.........its all part of the music 'BIZ.'

Hit 'em where they ain't!

Skowronski: Classical Recordings

Evanston, Illinois


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Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine