What violinists thought of each other

August 1, 2007 at 04:15 PM · what did the legendary violinist think of each other? (specific, or quotes)... I know everyone though heifetz was the best, but other than that, what did everyone think of each other and other's recordings

Replies (100)

August 1, 2007 at 04:22 PM · I think most were rather tactful at expressing criticism. Flesch was on record as criticising Huberman as a bad example. Heifetz acknowledged that Milstein was better at playing scales as he had a fingering system which changed on semitones.

Great players that I have met had a generosity of spirit towards fellow artists. It was the also rans who took pleasure in finding fault.

Many of the great players carried on after their best...Menuhin,Elman,Stern,Heifetz,Milstein,Ricci

and seemed to keep the respect of their colleagues.

August 1, 2007 at 04:45 PM · Edmund Jones wrote: "(Milstein) had a fingering system which changed on semitones."

Milstein showed this to us in class, but I've never seen any reference to it elsewhere. Would you share where you learned of this?

August 1, 2007 at 05:41 PM · Hi Oliver, If my memory serves me right I read it in an interview with, or an article by Ivry Gitlis who was a friend of Milstein.

He tells of a friendly competition between Heifetz and Milstein as to who could perform scales the smoothest and fastest.

Heifetz acknowledged that Milstein won, due to his fingering system that changed on the semitones.

I hope that this answers your question.

August 1, 2007 at 06:53 PM · what did famous violinists (heifetz, milstein, etc) think of oistrakh?

August 4, 2007 at 12:25 AM · I vaguely recall that when Oistrakh died, Heifetz was quoted as saying something very, very complimentary in his memory.

August 4, 2007 at 01:23 AM · ^anyone find that quote?

August 4, 2007 at 02:39 AM · I haven't the time right now to go dig up some of my favorite quotes from violinists about violinists, but I have some good ones I'll share later.

I agree with Edmund that the truly great artists, of the past or of modern times, are all brilliant enough (and self-assured enough) that they see no need to tear down their fellow artists to build themselves up--the real artists appreciated their colleagues for their own individual strengths, and couldn't be bothered to, say, debate ad nauseam which of a particular pair was "better" than the other. Horse-racing is for also-rans.

August 4, 2007 at 06:50 AM · What does that mean, a fingering system that changes on the semitones?

August 4, 2007 at 03:31 PM · Shifting more on half steps I would assume, am I right? Mr. Friedman taught this sort of thing, I wonder if it was from Milstein himself. In regard to the original question yes I think there was a lot of respect from one top player to another. Now there are top players openly criticizing Szeryng's Bach recording. I am often guilty of doing that kind of thing myself. When hearing a great performance, I think sometimes we should all just sit back and enjoy (myself included). I think it is good to take a look at the modesty and respect these people all had for each other

August 4, 2007 at 10:38 PM · Yes. I read a top player criticizing Vanessa Mae. A top player in the public eye shouldn't do even that. "It's not like my style" or "She and I are different" is the only thing you should say publicly.

August 4, 2007 at 03:38 PM · Well it's a free world, but Vanessa Mae is a another story, and I'm not going to get into that :)

August 4, 2007 at 03:41 PM · I'm not here to defend Vanessa. I'm here to teach good manners :D

August 5, 2007 at 03:24 AM · These quotes are both taken from Isaac Stern's autobiography My First 79 Years

Remembering Joseph Szigeti:

"Someone said of Szigeti that he looked as though he'd learned to play the violin in a telephone booth; he was so awkward. But he was one of the most profound musicians I have ever known, and a very good friend. I often visited with him in Switzerland, where he had his home. He was always very nervous onstage. I remember a performance he gave at Carnegie Hall in the mid-forties. In the opening work, he was ill at ease and not quite with it. Then he played the Brahms G Major Sonata, one of the most seraphic, poignant, soul-searching works in all the violin literature—music you don't perform, you live through. You try to show to what degree it is the essence of living, an appreciation for the act of life. Szigeti hit his stride and took off. I believe the pianist was Nikita Magaloff; the pianist is always so vitally important to such music. It was one of the most ennobling performances I have ever heard. Nobody in the hall breathed. You were not listening to a performance of someone standing on the stage at Carnegie Hall; you were surrounded by a golden aura of music." (pp. 4-5)

Describing David Oistrakh:

"He was the gentlest of human beings, and a giant violinist. There was in his playing a beautiful control at all times, whether in fast passages or long, slow phrases. A sudden burst of virile strength and the gentle caress of a soft nuance, the smooth, sweet tone unfailingly produced at all parts of the bow, at all levels of sound, never forced, never ugly. And always that wonderfully pure intonation that was invariably harmonically accurate as well. Those were the hallmarks of his playing. As for himself as a person—his life in the Soviet Union might have been expected to embitter him, yet I never once heard him utter an unkind word against a colleague, nor gossip about anyone's failingins and weaknesses. He was truly a golden man." (p.230)

August 4, 2007 at 10:45 PM · If "Private Eye" get hold of those Stern quotes, he'll be awarded an OBN ...

August 4, 2007 at 10:55 PM · Wow, Ruth, those are great! :)

August 5, 2007 at 03:53 AM · Jim, speaking as someone who is a performing professional, I see no bad manners in criticizing Mae. She is no colleague of mine. You may as well claim professional discourtesy when a trained medical professional bad-mouths a snake-oil salesman. It is not bad manners but someone who knows the difference noting another person who is a charlatan, a fraud, a fake, the incarnation of cynically taking advantage of the public's credulity.

And the public is not to blame. For it isn't people like me who tell them that they can't tell the difference. It's the Mae supporters who say they can't tell the difference, effectively claiming that "if we present it, you gotta like it". And, insecure as it is, the public falls for it.

Keeping mum about her is not good manners but rather vile and reprehensible, evincing neither respect for (nor understanding of) either violin playing or music itself.

August 5, 2007 at 07:20 AM · I think the "stupid public" assertion is rather misguided.

You're attempting to force on someone else exactly what you claim they're trying to do to you: push a set of musical standards on others that don't want to agree with you.

Dislike her playing all you want, but the elitist "respect for the violin and music" argument doesn't hold any water. Respect for what? How music "ought" to be played?

August 5, 2007 at 10:35 AM · I think what Emil is saying is she and her management is duping the public into thinking that she can play, when she can’t! If you read the stuff in her interviews that is exactly what she claims! And when she gets reviews that call her on it she again asserts that she is a world-class violinist. She could not cut it on a very, very simple session. Most of us have students that could run rings around her. Emil could not be more correct; she is a charlatan. She is an imposter, selling her stuff as a violinist.

If she just came across as someone who plays the violin and records pop song on the violin it would not be the lie that it is. Go see her interviews yourself and you will see what she and her management team says. To heck with being politically correct, call it for what it is.

August 5, 2007 at 01:45 PM · Gene, Mike said everything I wanted to say and has done so very clearly (thanks, Mike!). But there were two additional points I'd like to make.

First, I didn't make a "stupid public" assertion. I made an "insecure public" assertion. The two words mean something rather different, yes? The diagnosis of insecurity is one I make freely and confidently since I have seen, all too often, that people with perfectly valid opinions - defensible ones, too, not just the "I thought this thought and therefore it has value" crowd - disregard those opinions in the face of self-appointed experts disagreeing with them. I've seen people walk out of Famous Soloist concerts and, in so many words, say to me that they disliked it but that, since the reviews and PR machine said they should LIKE it, there must be something wrong with their tastes.

And Mae's PR machine is very strong indeed. As Mike said, we're not talking about stylistic and idiosyncratic differences in playing but rather inarguable, objective and significant flaws in her ability to play the instrument at all. And we're talking about her PR machine's bald-faced lies that these don't exist. As a pop star, her technical shortcomings are irrelevant since pop music doesn't have the same technical demands as classical. But she's billed as, at least, PARTIALLY a classical violinist and such misrepresentation is galling. I chose my analogy carefully: it is tantamount to a snake-oil salesman putting himself in the same category as a medical professional. The salesman, if successful enough, only attracts the attention of the authorities and risks arrest for actually physically harming people. Vanessa Mae only risks the ire of people like myself, who REFUSE to be put into the same category of profession as her.

My second point is about your profession. You teach, don't you? If "it's all good" and if there is no such thing as standards, no objective set of criteria for "playing" as opposed to "making noise with a musical instrument", if, in fact, you hold that there should be NO difference between "music" and "noise", what exactly is it that you're paid to do? Why not let the kids just do their own thing, since the sounds they make on their instruments are just as valid as the ones Heifetz made?

I am HEARTILY sick of the elitist label being seen as somehow damning. Yes, I'm an elitist in that I hold one thing to be of greater value than another. So do you, every time you refuse to eat nutritionally acceptable trash out of a dumpster and, instead, go to a restaurant or cook dinner. You prefer something that tastes BETTER. And so does anyone who is given the choice. Now, my tastes are not the same as yours, granted. You may want Thai and I may want Chinese. But NEITHER of us, and no sane person anywhere, will prefer rooting in a dumpster for scraps over ThaiPhoon.

Elitism is good, elitism is hierarchical preference. SNOBBERY is bad. Snobbery is acting as though one likes something ONLY because one knows that is the high-end thing to like. Buying designer clothes, for instance, not because one prefers how they sit on one, but only because one knows that the label is King. As for elitism, it has gotten mankind out of caves and into huts, out of huts and into houses, out of houses and into palaces just because we PREFERRED one thing over another.

Don't embrace mindless diversity. It is only a lack of conviction in one's preferences. Embrace being human, including being able to differentiate and choose.

August 5, 2007 at 09:27 PM · Emil, using the word manners was a joke. Unfortunately being a performing professional doesn't give any insight into the issue.

August 5, 2007 at 02:21 PM · Now that the conversation has drifted again into these dangerous waters...

First of all, Emil, from one elitist to the other, I salute you! You say the things that I'm always thinking (but am afraid to say in public for fear of pissing people off and wrecking my career.)

Regarding Vanessa Mae: I would have no real objection to her if she were always billed and categorized as what she is: a pop musician. I still wouldn't like her work in the slightest, but I could ignore it. What gets me, as Emil said, is how she is often billed as a CLASSICAL player. I walk into the record store and there, under "V" in the alphabet, right next to Vengerov (!), is...Vanessa Mae. (And Rieu is next to Repin, but that's another rant.) When I was younger, every time I would tell a non-musician that I was a violinist, most of them replied: "Oh, you're a violinist! Well, let me see...what famous violinists do I know...[I'm waiting for whoever I'm talking to to mention Heifetz...]...."the only famous violinist I know is Vanessa something, do you like her?" Groan. It then fell to me to explain that Vanessa Mae is NOT, in fact, a classical violinist, and I never listen to her. (If I mentioned I was into chamber music, their faces would immediately brighten and they would chirp, "oh, I heard a really nice...String Quartet a while ago, these four pretty girls, you'd like them...I think they were called Bond?")

That's why I hate "crossover" stuff: because it usually gets billed as "classical" (often in well-meant but ill-considered attempts to get The Public interested in classical music again?), and then people think it IS classical, and then......well, anyway.

August 5, 2007 at 04:13 PM · One thing that could give you some comfort is the awareness that classical is elite by definition. I believe it's a psychological phenomenon, not a musical one. In other words, if classical became popular enough it wouldn't be classical anymore, it would be the new Vanessa Mae... Is there anything musical that puts Sarasate on a higher plane than Lightnin' Hopkins? No. Classical pianists know that ;) It's only your preference and what speaks to you. And I'm suspicious it isn't always music speaking, as I implied above. It isn't cave vs. split level in the 'burbs. Or Victorian in the city, whatever you prefer :) I have nothing against "classical" violin music. I studied it for about ten years. I eventually realized it wasn't me. The more I learned, the more I realized it was foreign to me. You want to tell me it was me discovering I belong lower on the hierarchical scale! Sorry, but I know better. Even the majority of classical violinists would acknowledge that.

August 5, 2007 at 03:55 PM · (If I mentioned I was into chamber music, their faces would immediately brighten and they would chirp, "oh, I heard a really nice...String Quartet a while ago, these four pretty girls, you'd like them...I think they were called Bond?")

AHH! Same thing has happened here. My best friend and I caught an interview with Bond in 2004 on TV (coincidentally, while we were getting ready to go to a big concert to see a Real Violinist). We both thought it was fake at first. There may be a place for Bond...but it's not in the traditional chamber music genre. What they're doing is something else entirely. I'm not sure what.

August 5, 2007 at 03:54 PM · In our political and (unfortunately IMHO...) musical correct times it is pretty difficult to read (or listen) the real opinion of the actual and future "greats" ... With a couple of refreshing exceptions, like Nigel Kennedy's "just three words" when asked by a dull reporter about Anne-Sophie Mutter or Uto Ughi's loud "buffone" (jester...?) after a Chaconne by Kremer.

Being myself "correct" the one I like most is Milstein's quote about Rabin: "...also this guy who did play the violin SO wonderfully..." in "Master of Invention", said so charming and full of warmth...BTW the I've seen Milstein playing his "semitone scales" (in the case of C Maj it would be IV 0 1 2-2 3 4-4 III 1 2 3-3 etc.)in a breathtaking tempo and w/ a very crisp & crystal-clear articulation and remember it as one of the most impressive displays of violin technique I've ever seen in my life.

Back to being political corrupt rather then correct, I own a CD by Vanessa Mae, with Bach's E-Major partita and Bruch's Scottish Fantasy on it: IMO nothing brilliant, but pretty decent playing ... And since she plays the Bruch faster than Oistrakh and articulates the Bach tending to the now known "right" manner and even uses a shoulder rest I suppose there are people who could claim she's a great interpreter, according to modern standards...

August 5, 2007 at 06:42 PM · Unfortunately, I never had the wisdom to go out of my way to hear Mr. Rosand live, nor did I have the same wisdom to hear David Nadien. But there is no doubt that as time goes by, their stars will continue to shine brighter, and with good reason.

August 5, 2007 at 09:12 PM · As a regular Midwestern boy whose family has been on the continent about 300 years, Wieniawski just doesn't say much to me. Does it bug me that some people like him? Not at all. Musical preferences aren't like preferences in books and TV shows, and they run just as deep in the unwashed as they do in any Northeasterner. To be a musician and not know and acknowledge that shows a lack of awareness of a simple thing, therefore when a professional musician condemns music that isn't what he's used to, that lack of awareness is displayed and it looks unprofessional. As a professional behavior, the only thing that would excuse it would be if the classical audiience is so like-minded that it doesn't matter. But it will never be right thinking.

This might sound like PC, but it isn't, not any more than criticizing racial prejudice has to be.

Sander, you're the shrink. Am I crazy?


August 5, 2007 at 09:27 PM · The business of Public Relations exists so that people who perform can reach a large audience and make money. Vanessa-Mae is more than welcome to dump her "art" on the public so that she doesn't have to forage for subsistence. It isn't about "the music" or anything more complex than financial gain.

> You teach, don't you? If "it's all good"

> and if there is no such thing as standards,

> no objective set of criteria for "playing" as

> opposed to "making noise with a musical

> instrument", if, in fact, you hold that there

> should be NO difference between "music" and

> "noise", what exactly is it that you're paid to

> do? Why not let the kids just do their own

> thing, since the sounds they make on their

> instruments are just as valid as the ones

> Heifetz made?

This is a complete straw-man argument. Not once did I or anyone here say that there were no such things as standards.

Furthermore, there is a huge difference between artistic standards (such as the numbers of people here who dislike intensely this Heifetz fellow despite his overwhelming musical mastery), and skill-based standards (like interpreting rhythm and generating tone/pitch, which is what I teach to little kids).

> Vanessa Mae only risks the

> ire of people like myself,

> who REFUSE to be put into

> the same category of

> profession as her.

Well thank heavens, you never will be. I doubt I want to see you dancing in a miniskirt with a clear violin, churning out a horrid bastardization of a Vivaldi concerto., ;)

August 5, 2007 at 09:31 PM · Dear Mr. Miller, according to J. Joachim, Wieniawski "didn't say anything..." So maybe you're right! According to Wieniawski, the violin didn't "advance" being played by Joachim, so maybe you're not right... And according to "future great" Greengolz, Heifetz has a scratchy tone, and according to my experience, Greengoltz playing is the most narcissistic and self-loving on itself's sake "thing" I ever heard in my life...(But as a "playing machine" it works nearby as good as Hahn...)

So, according to myself, I'll better go and listen to some Mozart # 218 2nd mv. by who plays it really beautifull...

August 5, 2007 at 09:39 PM · Claudio, I'm not saying the bitch didn't say anything. I'm just saying personally I'd rather hear cowboy songs than a Polonaise. And I'm saying it doesn't automatically mean I need a scan to see if my brain is still working :)

August 5, 2007 at 09:45 PM · Will we see him in a miniskirt with a clear violin, churning out Wienaiwski and Pole dancing?

August 5, 2007 at 10:20 PM · Claudio, it's spelled "Gringolts." Ahh yes, and I remember that time well, when Ilya got hounded off violinist.com for the terrible crime of stating his personal opinion that he doesn't like Heifetz's recordings....but maybe it's best not to dredge that up again?

August 5, 2007 at 11:04 PM · Is there some Greenspan on the web anywere? I want to hear "self-loving on itself's sake "thing"" just to hear what that is:)

August 5, 2007 at 11:17 PM · Sorry about having misspelled the "G-word", Mara ... But...my opinion stays as it was, and I have listened to A LOT of "Bach" by this "ex-member"... & egész sz...

August 5, 2007 at 11:15 PM · Eh? Magyarul beszelsz?

August 5, 2007 at 11:17 PM · a lil' bit... but here I'm triyng to speak "english"... LOL

August 5, 2007 at 11:49 PM · Én is csak egy kicsit beszelék...micsoda nehéz a nyelv...

August 6, 2007 at 04:12 AM · The discussion is indeed venturing into dangerous waters, and I've a long drive ahead of me. But just one quick point.

Gene, you say "This is a complete straw-man argument. Not once did I or anyone here say that there were no such things as standards.

Furthermore, there is a huge difference between artistic standards (such as the numbers of people here who dislike intensely this Heifetz fellow despite his overwhelming musical mastery), and skill-based standards (like interpreting rhythm and generating tone/pitch, which is what I teach to little kids)."

But that is precisely why I rant against Mae and Rieu, don't you see? Because of their significant flaws in professional-level, skill-based standards like interpreting rhythm and generating tone and pitch. They do not do these BASIC things well, at any professional level.

There are plenty of violinists I adore, plenty more whom I respect but with whose playing I disagree, sometimes fundamentally. I do not quibble, especially in public, and try to tear down the latter for what are essentially small stylistic differences. That is what respect means.

But I have no respect at all, nor collegiality with, the two or three megasuperstars I DO tear down. They are not good players - Carlos' snarky comments notwithstanding - at the most basic, inarguable level. And I am sorry, but if one can't hear such crude shortcomings, if one doesn't know what one is listening for, one has no business debating in the field of acoustic performance art.

August 6, 2007 at 05:39 AM · I have a question, not more debating. I've never heard Rieu and only heard Vanessa once, on Youtube. To me, it was a bunch of dumb flash that left me wondering why she's out there instead someone else.

But I suggest that in that video at the most basic level she is a good player, because she apparently entertains, and in what she's doing, that's the basic requirement. The same minimum requirement placed on any pop star. So the problem arises when she get called classical, because she's not dotting her i's in classical violinist style. You know, the Monkees were promoted as a rock band. It didn't upset the Beatles.

"Because of their significant flaws in professional-level, skill-based standards like interpreting rhythm...at the most basic, inarguable level "

Ok, here's my question. I guess she has a CD or two out with sorry classical playing on it. What are the inarguable flaws in her interpretation of rhythm? Maybe not violinistic things to start with. Is the playing uneven? Is she stressing the wrong beats? Is she playing her dotteds as triplets? Are there pointless tempo variations? Just no pulse to anything? What is it? I'm truly curious about this, because I might learn something I don't know. Let's talk about music for awhile instead of celebrities and what's the best chin rest.

August 6, 2007 at 04:00 PM · Gene, at first it may look like Emil created a strawman and knocked it down, but I do not think he created a strawman because when you think about it someone would have to say there are no standards in order to accept her claim as a real violinist. This is the only way her claim can be valid. And the reason Emil was making the argument of “no standards.”

And I do not think Emil is knocking what she does in other genres. He is simply saying she is not a classical soloist.

You then said:

“The business of Public Relations exists so that people who perform can reach a large audience and make money. Vanessa-Mae is more than welcome to dump her "art" on the public so that she doesn't have to forage for subsistence. It isn't about "the music" or anything more complex than financial gain.”

I agree with you, but is there not another side to this? That is, if she is willing to dump her “art” on the public at large then she becomes open to those in the real art—real violinists—calling her out on it. Right?

You then said:

“Well thank heavens, you never will be. I doubt I want to see you dancing in a miniskirt with a clear violin, churning out a horrid bastardization of a Vivaldi concerto.”

I know you meant this in jest; I am sure you realize that Emil is a world-class violinist who will one day have quite a name for himself, not for dancing in miniskirts, but for playing some incredible stuff that few can play at this level.

Jim, great question, but I think if we answer it many will get on us again for "bagging" on her and not being politically correct. As you can see from what happened, this kind of thing does not go over well in today's "let's guard against 'judgment' at all cost" society.

August 6, 2007 at 10:31 AM · Well gentlemen, the musicians at the top of their profession that I've had the opportunity to see and work with don't need to defend or elevate what they do by tearing down other artists in public. It's one thing to criticize a performer for things that aren't executed well, or for artistic choices that we don't agree with (and that is of course perfectly fine). However, it's another thing entirely to insinuate that it's causing the same kind of damage as someone posing as a medical doctor, or that they don't have the right to do what they do. That's just a little over the top.

People with money buy those recordings and make them popular. Yes, it is frustrating to see more copies of that in existence than say, the Guarneri Quartet's recent set of the six Mozart Quartets dedicated to Haydn. I've gotten over it though. For the same reason I don't decry the presence of Dell laptop computers nor question the sanity of the people who buy them, even though I personally find Apple's portable computers to be superior machines for what I used to do (programming and software design), and for some of the things that I do now (recording and editing video/audio).

Jim, my major issue with what I hear of VM is a technological one. Her recorded sound is so amplified and over-processed...to me most of it barely sounds like the "violin" that I am accustomed to playing and hearing. It is the same reason that I don't consider "Bond" to be a string quartet in the classical sense of the term...there's far too much other stuff going on (drums, backing vocals, etc.) for their material to resemble what most of us recognize as a quartet (playing that Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Bartok, Shostakovich stuff).

The sound engineers seem to be doing a fantastic job though. :P

August 6, 2007 at 10:36 AM · Whow!!!...

Have you realised that by such a discussion you just did more for publicity of V.M. than she would get by paying for it?!

I thought, that if you truly want someone to wanish, then just cross them out of your memory, erase even thoughts if the subject is as worthless as some of you suggest!

By discussing her with so much passion, you acknowleging that she is worth your effort!

Let's speak of those who are worth remembering, just read the topic: it's about LEGENDARY violinists, isn't it?

I don't suggest talking of dead people exclusively, and promice to share any interesting quots as they come along...

August 6, 2007 at 02:58 PM · Olenushka, I doubt anybody wants to deprive her of publicity or cross her out of the public mind.

What in your opinion is wrong with her classical playing? I haven't heard it, and if I had I'd still like to hear the opinions of others.

It's easy and boring to just talk about legendary celebrities. Even celebrities can do that :)

August 7, 2007 at 07:14 AM · To help you understand better what I was thinking when I first said you shouldn't criticize these people publicly, imagine you're so good you find yourself on TV. The host sits you down and says "That was wonderful! You know, we had [insert hated violinist's name here] on last week. Do you like her?" If you're critical of her, if you say anything more than something like "She and I have different approaches", you will come off as a jerk, because the public doesn't know anything about this, and you aren't going to educate them and then convince them to come over to your side in the few sentences you're going to say. If you went ahead and pressed your position anyway, they would not be hearing what you'd hope they'd be hearing. That's what I saw happen.

August 7, 2007 at 05:06 PM · Hi everybody,

here there is a free book about what thought violinist of each other:


and here a bibliography about violin books:


August 7, 2007 at 07:57 PM · Thanks for the links. I read through the Fred Martens book before. However, what I remember is that the book is more about the violinists themselves rather than comments to other violinists. Still, that's an interesting book by all regards. The paper version of the book is republished by Dover.

August 9, 2007 at 05:07 PM · Did you know that Heifetz's favorite violinist was Ivry Gitlis? (both artistically and personally). I was very surprised to find this out from one of Heifetz's former teaching assistants living currently in southern california. I was very pleased to hear this because I think it shows that Heifetz can appreciate great artistry, even if there are major differences in his playing and Gitlis. Also, with Gitlis' warmth most violinists were very close to him including Ricci, Milstein and Francescatti. Gitlis is an Advisory Board Member for the Heifetz Society in Southern California. When I arranged concerts with Gitlis and Camerata Sweden to perform in Tacoma, WA, (October 2005) he went down to Southern California afterwards and stayed for a week with Ricci in Palms Springs and gave masterclasses in Los Angeles under the auspices of the Heifetz Society.

Also, I read an interesting interview online with Anne-Sophie Mutter a while back talking about Vanessa Mae. She gave a very diplomatic and intelligent response (Mutter thinks like a business-minded artist). I know it sounds like an oxymoron. This is what she said about Vanessa Mae: (reference: http://web.singnet.com.sg/~lionelc/mutter_interview.htm )

What do you think of Vanessa-Mae?

I heard one of her earlier recordings, one of those so-called "Classical…" whatever. There are probably many talents that are out there who are also very gifted and who are not as well-marketed as she is. But she's a very beautiful young woman and why shouldn't she have success? I think it's OK.

Do you think it cheapens the art she is trying to sell?

No, I don't think so. If the audience enjoys it, the audience gets something out of it, that's fine. There is a lot of space in the world for all sorts of communication, and if there's a certain audience for entertainment, and your playing is more on the entertainment side rather than the seriously classical-oriented, then that's fine.

August 9, 2007 at 05:07 PM · ^really? heifetz's favorite violinist was gitlis? I thought he liked rabin the best. Can anyone find more sources about that? Interesting...

August 9, 2007 at 05:10 PM · Chris:

Claire Hodgkins (a former Assistant of Heifetz) told me around September 2005 that Heifetz would talk alot about Gitlis in his classes and around friends/colleagues/acquaintances. That's the only source I have. In addition, I think because of Gitlis' strong friendship with Heifetz, he's on the Heifetz Society advisory board.

August 9, 2007 at 05:14 PM · Sung-Duk, those are good quotes from Anne-Sophie. Thanks! It's along the lines of what I was trying to say earlier: I don't mind her at all as long as everyone's clear she's a pop musician, not a classical violinist. It takes all types...

August 9, 2007 at 05:30 PM · Mara: You do know that Vanessa Mae studied at Juilliard with Dorothy Delay, right? I'd be curious if Ms. Delay approved of her success in an "alternative" way after she left the school.

August 9, 2007 at 05:36 PM · wonderful violinist michael whats his name

(milstein talks about rabin)

August 9, 2007 at 06:10 PM · Here's a funny interview given by the ever opinionated and outspoken Ida Haendel. She talks about her opinions about the corruption of art (around 8:25) and gives example using Britney Spears and the Eroica Trio. She calls them the "Erotica Trio" -- a group of cheap pinup girls. (You got to listen to the interview -- I couldn't believe how opinionated she was during the whole interview). I love the woman! I got to know her as a presenter -- I invited her in the past for concerts. She's so fun to be around and loves to party and to shop. She played the hell out of Ravel's Tzigane and left everyone in the audience awe-struck. (Keep in mind, she's in her late 70's, early 80's I think).


* Go to that website.

* Then go to the bottom left area of the screen and click on "Complete Interview".

August 9, 2007 at 06:00 PM · An exception might be if it's someone aged who's making those comments, because the thought becomes it's a straight opinion from a different time, rather than a battle in the present.

I remember Ida saying Neveu looked laughable. I always thought Neveu looked better than Ida from what I can tell from what's available, more interesting, but neither was laughable...

August 9, 2007 at 05:52 PM · Sung-Duk--uh, wow, no I didn't know that. Still, classical training aside, she's not really a Classical Violinist at this point...right?

August 9, 2007 at 05:55 PM · Mara -- exactly, Vanessa is not focusing on classical music. She might play "arrangements" of classical but she doesn't consider herself as a classical artist. It's the media who mistakenly talks about her like if she was a classical artist.

August 9, 2007 at 06:21 PM · I'm going to try to find this article online or in one of my piles of violin magazines and if I do, I will post it. But I do remember for sure reading an interview with Ida Haendel where she expressed her frustrations again with the commercialism tainting the art. In this instance, she mentioned how she doesn't agree and respect with artists like Itzhak Perlman appearing on Sesame Street. She personally felt that was very cheap way to get publicity and her quote I remember was "Itzak Perlman -- Are you listening????" I can see why some people might find Ms. Haendel to be arrogant but she really is a very honest person (sometimes too honest without diplomacy). She is a great artist, and I still really respect her. I just wish she made it easier for herself by being a bit more diplomatic.

August 9, 2007 at 06:30 PM · Aww, it was great when Itzhak went on Sesame Street! (I remember that episode...) Now, THERE's a way to get kids interested in good classical music... :)

August 9, 2007 at 06:32 PM · Mara: I agree with you!

August 9, 2007 at 06:45 PM · Mara and others, she must have been a pretty good classical musician because according to Guinness World Records, she is the youngest soloist to record both the Beethoven and Tchaikovsky violin concertos, a feat she accomplished at the age of thirteen.

August 9, 2007 at 06:48 PM · Chris: I know for sure that Itzhak Perlman's idols include Heifetz and Ida Haendel, among others.

August 9, 2007 at 06:53 PM · I assumed everybody in the discussion knew this stuff about V. Learn all the facts before you juice up the electric chair! But this stuff is some of why you can't just dismiss her without ignoring some interesting questions. Would be interesting to know what kind of reviews the records Chris mentions got.

August 9, 2007 at 07:17 PM · When did Itzhak say his idol was Haendel?

August 9, 2007 at 08:16 PM · He said it many times in interviews on magazine, radio, in person, etc. But one source is:


See the 2nd sentence after the picture.

August 10, 2007 at 04:09 AM · Jim, to answer your points:

1) I was aware of the fact of her recording the Big Boys, was severely underwhelmed by the quality of her playing, and assumed at the time that it was the effect of premature recordings. I thought she'd improve with age. She didn't.

2) Her flaws are objective and glaring, unlike the much more nuanced, subjective and arguable objections Ida Haendel has regarding the Eroica (or some A-list soloists, for that matter). VM's flaws include:

a - flawed, uncertain intonation overall. This is on high-budget recordings where, presumably, she could have edited out such flaws had she I) heard them and II) given a flying rodent's patootie about her audiences hearing them and III) been able to play anything consistently in tune even once.

b - a weak, ill-defined, watery sound that has neither character nor differentiation, nor nuance, nor shading, nor any semblance of control beyond that achieved roughly by the time a student graduates from Suzuki Bk. 5

c - rhythmic idiocy which compounds rhythmic details (e.g. triplets are NOT an eighth and two sixteenths), gives no drive nor shape to phrases and is pretty much limited to the square, head-banging variety of consistency achieved by most cheap metronomes or those whose imaginations have been surgically removed.

d - Please note, once again, that I do not mention such arguables as phrasing, stylistic fidelity, artistic originality, musical integrity or respect for high art. I do not talk about how things "should be" played. I know these are punchlines to PC jokes. But PC thought itself becomes the joke when basic standards are erased or blurred. And it certainly does no favors to art to say art is beyond judgment. Art is the distillation, the quintessence, the ACME of judgment.

For goodness' sake, Maura has said it absolutely correctly. There is no problem that I'd have with her financial success were she to be perceived AND PROMOTED as a pop-tart star who happens to use the violin AT THE TECH LEVEL of pop needs, rather than the SIGNIFICANTLY higher one required for classical mastery. She is not promoted as a pop but as a "crossover" star, and when she crosses over it is laughable and cringe-inducing. And it is not for the sake of Art that I assail her. Beethoven isn't hurt by her. He's too dead to be offended, and his music is too immortal to be stained by the likes of VM.

I don't let the issue drop because audiences are deceived and misled. Because presenters could, with equal ease, push an equally attractive but COMPETENT player. The fact that they don't indicates their contempt for the very audiences who stick up for them - like you, Jim - and because they know perfectly well how difficult it is to get a competent player to try and occlude music behind a cheap, vulgar and one-dimensional display of hormones.

August 10, 2007 at 05:27 AM · Emil, I said several times I'm not sticking up for her, just curious about what makes her so despised. I don't know her playing. Not being able to get that out of what I've written is a more pressing problem than somebody playing hormonally-occluded music or whatever you were trying to say. There's no other meaning or reason for what I wrote. I'm not getting a piece of the action :)

And, contrary to what you say, you'd hate her even if she never played classical. It wouldn't matter how she was promoted. It wouldn't matter if she was playing keyboards instead of violin.

Now, you could do something that would prove all the points you try to make, at once. The Unified Field Theory of music. If you can prove European music of the 18-19th century is inarguably superior to the rest of the world's music, that's all you have to do. Just pull it out anytime you want to make any point. The problem is it can't be done, not any more than the existence of someone's favorite god can be proven. That's the problem in your arguments, and evidence to the contrary. I don't think it's either snobbery or eliteism, but rather anybody who doesn't worship at the same temple as you and share the same fantasies. I don't know if that has a name. "Bigotry" or something.

August 10, 2007 at 06:11 AM · Jim: not to sound overly snarky, but I don't really see how it's Emil's problem if you are (apparently) personally offended and feel yourself a target of "bigotry" because someone happens to think that the Beethoven symphonies are greater works of art than, say, a Britney Spears song...

Edit: I also am afraid you may be setting up a straw man. I don't hear Emil saying that "European music of the 18th-19th centuries is inarguably superior to all the rest of the world's music," I hear him...complaining about a pop violinist being marketed as a classical player, for all the reasons that he (and I) have already mentioned.

August 10, 2007 at 06:47 AM · "I don't hear Emil saying that "European music of the 18th-19th centuries is inarguably superior to all the rest of the world's music"

If you haven't you will. That's where this comes from. For the record, I haven't been offended nor could I be, and I like Be. more that Br. too.

Edit: And also I like Emil very much, in person :)

August 10, 2007 at 05:53 AM · It is the fear of this kind of really over-the-top criticism, the kind that does not reserve a speck of dignity for a person, that paralyzes everyone, keeps people from trying anything new, makes people quit, makes people who are really quite good think they are frauds, and lands us all in the nuthouse.

I don't like it, Emil, and I don't think it's justified. Vanessa Mae is a person, for God's sake.

In marketing, you do what works. It's marketing.

August 10, 2007 at 11:28 AM · Maura, you compared Beethoven symphonies and Britney Spears as works of art, and I assume you think the former are greater works of art. I'm not denying that. But can you say why you think so? Something more than just everybody knows that - it's not worth discussing? It's not necessary to be able to do that to make music. In fact according to a recent blog, the Philadelphia Orchestra can't even tell you what music is... It's just that when someone makes any claim, they need to be able to back it up. Someone may put you on the spot someday and ask you to do it :) I'm not sure I could get much further than "That's just what I prefer." I might rattle on about harmonic and rhythmic complexity or something. But I could also say a Britney Spears song moved some little girl to tears and Britney's her hero. And that she's scared of Beethoven's picture :) I could say it takes a lot more time to get the Britney song to CD, and then counter that with something about Beethoven or orchestras. That's about the best I could do.

August 10, 2007 at 11:04 AM · Well said Laurie!

Despise the marketing, but see no reason to hate the person even if I don't overly like her style of music.


August 10, 2007 at 12:41 PM · Laurie -- You make alot of sense!

August 10, 2007 at 02:56 PM · Hi,

Laurie - Thank you! That was a thoughtful post!!

August 10, 2007 at 01:44 PM · Laurie, my criticism does not address her as a person. I don't know her as a person. For all I know, VM is kind to dogs and small children, gives heavily to all sorts of laudable charities, is kind and sympathetic and even adores Schopenhauer.

But I do know, as do you, how she plays. And it is that which I criticized. But how would you describe "over-the-top"? Because I was insistent, undiplomatic, and specific? Jim asked for specifics, and diplomacy kept occluding the extent of her inadequacies. Because I used a word like "idiocy"? It referred to rhythm, not to her. (I, for one, have a sort of time-keeping idiocy wherein it needs to be explained to me as to a child, sometimes, that the time I've budgeted for getting from A to B is simply inadequate. It's one of my greatest failings. But I don't consider that admission to be tantamount to saying "I'm an idiot.")

And Laurie, in the years that I've been on v.com, have you EVER seen me assail anyone such that they'd be paralyzed and not try anything new? True, I've advised against a thirtysomething beginner aiming to give up his day job so as to make a career on the violin, so I suppose that WAS a vote against trying something new. But then again, I've also advised people against committing suicide or robbing a bank. THAT's something new. But still...inadvisable.

But it's never been my style to assail even controversial peers, nor to be harsh about anyone - of ANY level - except for the four people I've always held to be the epitomy of marketing over substance: Mae, Rieu, Bocelli and Helfgott. I doubt my criticism has ever even reached them, even if they had ever read it. Because for them marketing IS everything. (Yes, I don't know them personally, but that is a supposition I can safely make. After all, if marketing weren't the ne plus ultra to them, they wouldn't continue performing at the same level while keeping their PR machines pumping as potently.)

And for you, Laurie, marketing ISN'T everything. We've talked about this enough that I also feel fairly safe making that kind of sweeping statement. You wouldn't condone murder for the sake of getting press, after all. Which means you already draw a line somewhere. Nor, if memory serves, would you condone adding a rock beat to a Beethoven symphony, nor of playing Mozart in the nude, as a means of attracting an audience. You wouldn't condone this because you know that even if the marketing worked, it is no longer music the crowd is coming for. You're drawing them to a "safe" classical concert in the case of the rock-beat Beethoven, one where they needn't fear actual classical music since it's been made into inferior rock music. You're drawing them to see a naked person in the case of the Mozart In The Buff. And although I haven't the stats to back me up on this, you're not keeping these victims of bait-n'-switch advertising for an actual classical concert; they don't come to hear Gitlis after being drawn in by Mae.

August 10, 2007 at 01:57 PM · As a mediocre classical player I at least recognize and appreciate the achievements of better players and great players. I don't care so much for the marketing of Bond and Vanessa Mae as top shelf classical musicians.

As a decent pop musician I am nearly sickened that the music VM and Bond produce is so popular. It's totally a matter of taste and opinion and, while their fans are entitled to express theirs so are we who are not fans. Their music, to me, is as bad as the worst fast food and junk food that so many people consume.

At least they're not commiting armed robbery, murder, etc., but they are getting paid well for their particular crimes against humanity (and that sticks in my craw).

Now, in a thread about what the great players think/thought about each other, how did we ever work VM and Bond into the discussion?

August 10, 2007 at 02:59 PM · It was Jim's assertion that criticizing Mae in public constitutes bad manners. And from there, the discussion extrapolated ALL judgment being bad manners vs. ALL judgment being good. Which is why it gets vehement. Because all of ANYTHING is pretty inadvisable.

August 10, 2007 at 03:05 PM · Perhaps I’m taking a risk wading into the middle of this discussion, but oh well. My only experience with Vanessa Mae is her recording of the Four Seasons I bought several years ago. I bought it at the time because of some customer reviews on Amazon.com, which suggested that it might be a “fresh” or “original” interpretation of an “old war horse.” You can see the CD and some of those reviews (from 1999) here:


Interestingly, the more recent reviews of this CD, say from 2003 onwards, reflect my opinion of it after I listened to it: not that great. I didn’t think it was fresh or original enough; rather than being something really new it was basically the same old same old with some add-ons. I was disappointed; I sold the CD on eBay (where it was quite popular and I didn’t have any trouble getting rid of it) and went back to listening to my former recording of the piece by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields with Sir Neville Mariner. Her marketing may indeed be kind of screwed up, but what celebrity marketing isn’t?

But even with my disappointing listening experience, I have trouble understanding what all the fuss is about or why the vitriol is necessary. The CD wasn’t my cup of tea, but it did appear to be that of some of the other Amazon reviewers, especially some of them who wrote in from places like Kazakhstan and Indonesia. And I have to admit that although I am not a professional violinist and never will be, I actually can and have played the Four Seasons. On the violin. I’ve played and studied and listened to violin music for 34 years. And VM, for all her faults, is still a lot better violinist than I am. I didn’t love her interpretation enough to put on my iPod, but I didn’t hear egregious musical errors either. Her intonation and technique, while not perfect, are better than mine. If I could play the Four Seasons even that well, I’d be happy with myself. It would be a personal best. Not that I wouldn’t love to do even better and not that I don’t respect people who can, but given my level of talent and experience and other commitments, I don’t think that’s in the cards right now.

And that brings me to Laurie’s comment, which I agree with. Not because I think that anything anyone says in a v.com discussion is really going to hurt Vanessa Mae. I’m sure she’s heard worse, and I don’t think one gets to be a major recording star without some kind of a thick skin. But I think that kind of criticism that is so extremely negative, not just about the performer, but also about the listeners/audience of a given performer, is what hurts. If she allegedly can’t even do BASIC rhythm and pitch, her shortcomings are crude, and the music she plays is a crime against humanity, then what does that say about me, or about the rest of us?

Anyway, I agree with Mike. I’d rather read a thread about what great players thought of each other than one about what we all think of mediocre players.

August 10, 2007 at 05:01 PM · I really wonder why people have mostly been talking about vanessa Mae... I specifically mentioned in the thread to talk about "legendary" players like Oistrakh, Kreisler, Milstein, etc which does not include musical garbage like Vanessa Mae....

August 10, 2007 at 05:12 PM · We have a habit of drifting off-topic here...

August 10, 2007 at 09:46 PM · "And VM, for all her faults, is still a lot better violinist than I am."

That was a great post. It's yet another reason for a pro not to publicly criticize her. If you're a violinist, your fans are violinists, and the vast majority are only an even greater insult to music than you think she is! I listened to the link enough to realize she's better than a typical student at university of wherever.

How can anyone stand to do something they'll never be "any good" at? What's the purpose of it?

Is it OK to do as long as nobody hears it? Or is it OK for people to hear if you just acknowledge that it's no good?

Chris, do you play Four Seasons better than VM? If not, then in your own opinion you're "garbage." If you're keeping it real. Not my opinion or anyone else's, but your own.

I wish I hadn't jokingly used the word manners. I let my guard down. But I think it was Emily Post who said good manners is just another name for the most efficacious thing to do...

Now back to what did Heifetz think of whoever. Most likely he hated them, from what I've read :)

August 10, 2007 at 09:26 PM · I'm not so sure that "X is a better musician than I am, therefore I can't criticize X" really answers the question, though, because musical skill is only part of the issue. Christina Aguilera is a far better singer than I am, for example, but I don't like her music, and in fact I think her music suffers artistically because she relies so much on her looks to sell it. If she were 200 pounds heavier and unattractive, she wouldn't have a career. Something tells me this is true for Vanessa Mae as well. Not that she doesn't have talent---but how much of her acclaim is due to that talent and how much to the fact that she successfully markets herself?

August 10, 2007 at 10:35 PM · "Chris, do you play Four Seasons better than VM? If not, then in your own opinion you're "garbage." If you're keeping it real. Not my opinion or anyone else's, but your own."

Yes, I do realize I suck at playing the violin, but the discussion was mean't to discuss more prominent and respected/distinguished violinists... I wonder why anyone hasn't talked about Andre Rieu yet <_<

August 10, 2007 at 10:57 PM · I didn't say marketing was everything. I said that marketing is marketing!

August 10, 2007 at 11:22 PM · Who is Vanessa Mae and who cares?

August 10, 2007 at 11:33 PM · Well I listened to all the samples on her CD that has the E major partita on it. I think Emil does a good job covering the details. But at the same time it sounds like probably most violin graduate students out there, I think. Rather than Leilia J, say. So I don't know where to go with it. Except to say if you're better, more power to ya :)

August 10, 2007 at 11:44 PM · Sung-Duk - just to clear a few things, Vanessa Mae did not study with delay. She studied in London's Francis Holland School.

And wasn't the Swedish camerata called Camerata Nordica (under Terje Tønnesen) back then?

August 11, 2007 at 12:37 AM · Mattias:

In Summer 1988, I remember reading a newspaper article in Los Angeles about Dorothy Delay and her former students. This article appeared because Sarah Chang was making her Hollywood Bowl performance with LA Philharmonic and they wanted to feature story on Sarah's teacher -- Delay. Listed among the regular students were such as Midori, Chang, Perlman, Salerno-Sonnenberg, McDuffie, Lin, etc. But also listed were "alternative violinists" such as Nigel Kennedy and Vanessa Mae. I'm serious I saw this. If this is not true, then I think the newspaper writer may have made a mistake.

August 10, 2007 at 11:31 PM · Whenever a violinist picks up their instrument and plays for an audience their objective is to make a connection and entertain. One of my daughters violin teachers when asking her to play back a piece she learned, challenged her by saying, "entertain me, show me what you've got". It really doesn't always matter who is the best technically, but what does matter is if a violinists can relate with their audiences. Vanessa Mae has a large audience and apparently she connects with them. It doesn't matter that she can't do some of the things that graduate conservatory students can do. Most graduate students can't connect with an audience. I have no problem with people calling her a classical violinist. She does do arrangements of classical pieces and she does play the violin. Obviously there is a distinction between her arrangements and the original pieces and I feel there is nothing wrong with pointing this out. Perhaps she serves the purpose to introduce the masses to violin music. I sell wine for a living and it is amazing how many people who after first being introduced to white zinfandel graduate to fine pinot noirs. I really don't understand Vanessa Mae bashing or why some violinists feel so threatened by her.

August 11, 2007 at 12:44 AM · Mattias:

Camerata Nordica/Camerata Sweden -- they kept changing their names and kept frustrating all of the presenters. When I signed off on the booking contract, the group was listed as Camerata Sweden. After the concert progammes, brochures, etc was all published they demanded their name to be changed to Camerata Nordica. Because of this confusion, there were some frustrated audiences who had a big word with me in regards to deceptive advertising, etc. So it was not a fun issue to deal with at all (this is agreed upon by all of the presenters who presented them on the US Tour during that time)......

August 11, 2007 at 06:32 AM · I ran across a very interesting article whose thrust puts the issue of what great violinists think/thought of each other in a different light. Though that issue is not the topic of the article, the author seems to be saying that great artists would "judge" each other based on

how naturally they embody the organic relationship between the music and the musician, the creator and the re-creator. Put another way, a great artist gives a sense of flow and plays as if he or she is the vehicle through which the music passes yet still contributes a unique interpretation. Acknowledging in each other the honesty and integrity that great players possess as such singular vehicles renders insignificant any criticism they might level at each other based on "commonly accepted standards" of technique and interpretation.

The article is found here:


August 11, 2007 at 03:28 AM · Mattias: Please see below. A biography of Vanessa Mae from her homepage. She studied with Delay. Hope that clears up concerns of possible incorrect information. This was found on http://www.vanessa-mae.com.ar/local-cgi/index.cgi?biografia



Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn Nicholson, una joven violinista británica, nació en Singapur el 27 de Octubre de 1978, en donde pasó los primeros cuatro años de su vida. Vanessa-Mae ha estudiado con el profesor Lin Yao-Ji en el Central Conservatoire de China. A los once, ella se unió a la Royal College of Music como la estudiante más joven en la clase de Felix Andriewsky en el curso de Diploma de Intérprete Profesional. También estudió con otros músicos eminentes tales como Yfrah Neaman y Dorothy Delay, y en la actulidad está trabajando cercanamente con el jóve virtuoso búlgaro Vasko Vassilev para continuar su entrenamiento en la escuela de violin Yankelevich.

La "pura acrobacia violinística" de Vanessa-Mae en sus conciertos en el Schleswig Holstein Music Festival fueron muy alabados y realizó su primera aparición en concierto con la Philharmonia en 1989. La elección de Vanessa-Mae del programa en su primera grabación del concierto con la London Mozart Players representa el rango de su repertorio, desde los trabajos virtuosos más demandantes hasta las composiciones clásicas juveniles tales como los comienzos de Mozart.

Vanessa-Mae recorrió con la London Mozart Players el Lejano Este en su prestigioso tour Mozart Bicentennial Year, en donde ejecutó el concierto de violín Adelaide con "gran carisma" y "equilibrio y elegancia" en Bangkok, Sigapur, Hong Kong, Tokio y Taipei. Fue invitada para ser solista en la visita debut a Inglaterra de la Singapore Symphony Orchestra en Junio de 1991. Vanessa-Mae también aparece regularmente en festivales musicales internacionales en las que se incluyen el Russe International Music Festival, el Bang and Olufsen Musicfest, el Kenwood Music Festival, y el Dumfriesand Galloway Festival.

Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn Nicholson toca en un violín J. B. Guadagnini de 1761.

August 11, 2007 at 04:06 AM · OK...I can just barely read that...an English version might be helpful.

August 11, 2007 at 07:57 AM · Sung-Duk - She was NOT a student of delay :)

The page that you lists is an FAN page, her homepage is http://www.vanessa-mae.COM/, not .AR

If an error pops up in one plaece, it will soon be everywhere :-)

August 11, 2007 at 11:43 AM · Mattias:

I'm not trying to argue with you or to defend my answers. I just saw her name and Delay's name on many occasions. If you think it's an error, then let it be. I really don't care. However,I do want you to know that I'm not this crazy person out there just making stuff up out of the nowhere.

August 11, 2007 at 12:09 PM · Sung-Duk - I am sorry... It is not my intentions to sound harsh or critical to you, english is not my mother tongue and my feelings does not always come through.

I have high thoughts of you as a person and as a professional, please don't think otherwise, no matter what my words can sound like.


August 11, 2007 at 04:15 PM · What I like about violinist.com ----

- Technical advice at a level and with a variety of perspectives that you simply can't get from one single teacher (although having a teacher is the basic necessity).

- The wisdom and judgment of violinists and violin teachers who are more talented, more insightful, and more expert than I will ever be.

- Different ways to learn about and appreciate the great violinists of the present as well as the past. When I came upon this website a few years ago, I idolized the individuality and uniqueness and artistry of the great violinists of the near (and distant) past, and didn't think that today's crop amounted to a hill of beans. I have changed my mind radically since then, although I still cling to the observation that there was something individual about the older greats that doesn't exist today.

- The opportunity to express my own opinions and, if not always taken seriously, at least listened to.

- Observe the kind of controversies that can break out on any of these discussion threads. It really is stimulating to read a lot of it. However, some of these have to do with the art, some don't. There's a line that separates healthy controversy from personal attack; sometimes it's easy to see where that line is, sometimes not. Maybe there's a place for personal attack, but I'm not sure that this website is the place for it. Not that I think anything less of some of the individuals who have gotten very personal here, because it is clear how passionate and candid many are about their opinions. But I would take heed from the person (I forgot whom) who said the following: "Never get into a fight with a pig. You'll get dirty. Besides, the pig likes it." To get back to the topic of this discussion, in his biography Yehudi Menuhin said something like the following about Heifetz, that Heifetz represents an ideal of developing a particular interpretation and sticking to it every time he plays. Menuhin concluded, "It is a valid approach, but it is not mine." So, do try to take the high road. It is indeed a very high road that any artist is on.

To one and all, have a great day.


August 11, 2007 at 12:30 PM · Well said, Sander!

Has anyone considered the possibility that Vanessa-Mae did a masterclass with DeLay? Big names tend to slip into biographies that way too...

August 11, 2007 at 12:42 PM · After reading this long thread, I debated whether or not to reply to the post (and join in because the thread is coming to a close) or to just let this thread go...but I'll quickly give me two cents in:

First off, I agree with what Emil has to say about VM's marketing as a Classical Violinist and not as a pop star. It's frustrating to see someone like VM being marketed as something she is not. There is nothing classical about her playing (for instance, her 'Storm' performances on YouTube show her on stage with 10 different back up dancers tap dancing and singing while pyrotechnics are going off in the background) and the bottom line is: Mae should not be marketed as a classical violinist.

Now with that being said, I think this situation goes deeper than what has already been commented on. The situation is not just about forms of marketing and image and whether or not certain principles apply, but more about the fact that here is someone making a huge living off of a title that has she has plastered onto herself when in reality she is not what her marketing team claims she is.

To me, Mae is a charlatan.

I received an album of hers as a gift when I started playing the violin. My aunt, who is classically illiterate, asked one of the workers at a record store for a recommendation on a good violinist. The worker said that Mae was a popular pick and thus I had her album playing in my stereo. In her Album booklet (or whatever it's called), there were many pictures of her scantily clad in a pair of bootie-shorts, thank-you's to about a hundred different people for helping in the synthesizing of her pieces, etc, and a short bio. In that bio, it stated that Mae was a world renowned classical blah blah blah blah blah...when she in fact wasn't/isn't.

I do know that Mae performed here and there when she was a child prodigy (more in the UK), but she was not what they marketed her as. When I listened to Storm the first time (it's...basically a mockery of Vivaldi's Winter Presto), my jaw dropped. What I was hearing was drums, voices sighing and laughing, and a synthesizer in the background...she defaced vivaldi's music and that pissed me off.

Maybe there is also a bit of jealousy that goes with these issues...Mae has the abilities of a graduate student (maybe bordeline...) and is the top earner among "violinists" today...(how is that possible?)

Mae sells herself as a classical musician and cajoles her audiences into thinking that what they're listening to is classical music. That's what is the most frustrating about this whole situation.

And I believe Emil's frustrations have been taken the wrong way. He hasn't said anything demeaning or personal about VM...he has merely stated the truth about her craft. Actually, I think he eloquently stated what many violinists view Mae as, it's just that most don't have the time (or the guts) to say it so passionately. Emil is a wonderful violinist and an intelligent human being, I think people have just taken his comments too personally

I mean, it's not wrong to like Mae...to even prefer her music to Bell or Vengerov (that's your prerogative), and it's not wrong for Mae to do what's she's doing. But the fact of the matter is, she's performing and being portrayed as something she is not...it's just wrong to do that no matter how well you are or you aren't marketed.

EDIT: my post turned quickly into a rant...it's 3 AM in the morning and i'm too tired to revise it...... good night everyone!

August 11, 2007 at 01:03 PM · Well said, Patrick. I agree on all counts.

August 11, 2007 at 01:33 PM · I do not see where Emil was basing. He stated it as it is. I think if she market herself as a pop artist he would have no problem with what she is doing.

I do not understand those who say if she is garbage you must be too if you cannot play like she can. There is a difference, she is recording and selling cds and those cds have to be judged with other cds....and when they are they do not measure up.

Karen, you are not marketting yourself as a star...that is the difference.

As for `judgin` as my friend says,we must do it everyday in just about every minute that we live or we cannot make sense of the world we live in and cannot make good and safe choices.

August 11, 2007 at 01:57 PM · Hi,

Back to the original topic?!

I think that at the highest level, though with few exceptions, great violinists were far more respectful of each other than we think. History is loaded with examples. Joseph Joachim had high regard and admiration for the talents of Wieniawski and Ernst though they persued different ideals (most of the criticism of Wieniawski came from Joachim's assistant Moser). The frienship and mutual admiration of Ysaÿe-Kreisler-Thibaud is legendary. Mr. Heifetz was cautious in his praise and criticism, but had high regard for many of his colleagues. He actually expected his students to attend concerts of the famous violinists that came to L.A. and Sherry Kloss relates in her book that he asked that a moment of silent be observed in class at what he called the tragic news that a great violinist had died at a still you age for him: David Oistrakh. There are countless passages of the praise and respect of Stern for many violinists in his book "My first 79 Years." Many stories of Mr. Milstein have been related here. Of Mr. Heifetz, the list is endless: David Oistrakh once said in a interview "There is Heifetz, and then the rest of us violinists." Szeryng called Heifetz "The emperor of the profession." Flesch refered to him as "The High Priest," and though cautious in public of singling out anyone, Isaac Stern singled out Mr. Heifetz on his interview on Larry King Live saying that "as an aristocratic player, Heifetz was in a class of his own."

And of the well-known acquaintances, teachers, friends that I know personally on the circuit today, most of them speak with great admiration, and respect of their colleagues, not only publically but privately as well.

Is this more what you had in mind when this thread started?!


This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

International Violin Competition of Indianapolis
International Violin Competition of Indianapolis

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Violinist.com Shopping Guide
Violinist.com Shopping Guide

ARIA International Summer Academy

Metzler Violin Shop

Bein & Company

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Los Angeles Violin Shop

String Masters

Bobelock Cases

Things 4 Strings LLC






Sleepy Puppy Press

Jargar Strings

J.R. Judd Violins, LLC

Southwest Strings

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

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