What would you ask Ruggiero Ricci?

November 15, 2007 at 04:42 PM · The great violinist and teacher Ruggiero Ricci has recently published a technique book called Ricci on Glissando. It's radical stuff! In it, Ricci advocates a very different left hand position than many of us use, describing a theory of how Paganini likely played and was able to perform so many feats on the fiddle.

I'm planning to interview him on Monday, and I wondered what questions my V.commie friends would have for him. So what would you ask Ruggiero Ricci?

Replies (30)

November 15, 2007 at 05:41 PM · Hi Laurie:

I would have 2 questions

Which violinists did he learn the most from over the course of his career?

Also, if he were to have an opportunity to rewind the tape, would he choose to have been in the public eye at such an early age?



November 15, 2007 at 05:52 PM · he is one of few people able to play well Paganini #5 with its original bowing. How was he able to play it in that way?

November 15, 2007 at 06:07 PM · Antonio, in the DVD that accompanies the book he talks about Pag#5 bowing specifically. The basic answer seems to be lots of practice.

November 15, 2007 at 06:09 PM · I think that his basic ideas on glissando are correct but I am challenged to see exactly how to apply them. The pictures in the book were good but static. I couple of demos on the accompanying DVD would have been nice to see the motions.

Perhaps you can get him to demonstrate some of the motions in the movement of the left hand and post the video of that on-line.

November 15, 2007 at 06:47 PM · Ok Corwin,

it is like to say: how we can play the violin?

with a lot of practice

how can the sun warm the hearth?

with a lot of heat

How can the sky be coloured?

with a lot of blue

how can I stand these replies?

with a lot of patience

November 15, 2007 at 07:05 PM · I have heard that Ricci prefers to record in single takes, no overdubs, or editing. Or even second takes!

Could you ask him, please, the degree to which this is true, and what is his reasoning for his stance?


November 15, 2007 at 07:59 PM · I would like to recommend to all a set of DVD's of Ricci giving master classes and being interviewed with a bonus re-issued CD of early performances. The interview includes the 5th caprice issue. This set is put out by Bein&Fushi. There are a number oddities to deal with. For example, it takes a couple of listenings to get used to his not always clearly-ennuciating speaking voice. But I'd still recommend it.

Now to my questions. He's spent so much time researching and thinking about Paganini. Let's accept the science fiction that I've built a time machine...

1. I can send Ricci back for a weekend with Paganini. What would Ricci be most keen on seeing, hearing, clarifying, asking Paganini in that brief time?

2. I can bring Paganini back to our own time to give a concert. He has no opportunity to check out any developments since his time. He just walks on stage and does his thing. How impressive or disappointing does Ricci thinK P. would be to educated modern ears?

No more time machine...

3. P. spoke of a "secret" to make practicing much more efficient and productive. He was very mysterious about it, and never published it. I recall one book quoting P. as saying that "all" one would need is 5(!) hours of practice - as opposed to the 10 he did as a kid? Anyway, I'd like R.'s speculation on this.

4. It seems that R. advocates a kind of 'crawling' left hand technique that re-creates P.'s chintrest-less approach. But is this necessarily the star we should hitch our wagons to, even if it worked for P.? One of the few contemporaries that could stand up to P. was Louis Sphor. He has been credited with inventing, or being the first major player to use a chinrest. That early model is not something most of us would want to use. But the basic idea is there, that far back. Is it just to do specific P. techniques?

November 15, 2007 at 07:50 PM · Maybe you could ask him what he considers to be essential repertoire for the violinist - technical works included. He seems to have such a great knowledge of it all, and it would be nice to know his violinistic 'diet'.

November 15, 2007 at 08:37 PM · I know that Ricci is probably the violinist who has the most complete knowledge of the absolute fingerboard. My teacher who had the chance to meet him told me that he can intonate every note on the fingerboard without any correlation with previous note (relative intonation).

November 15, 2007 at 08:43 PM · i'd be interested to know how he feels about todays violinists. Which did he and which does he admire.

November 15, 2007 at 08:48 PM · Because he has evident italian origin: who is the best italian violinist (baside him) in this moment?

November 15, 2007 at 08:49 PM · I know he retired in Italy: how is his stay going here?

November 15, 2007 at 08:47 PM · If he were 60 years younger, and starting concerts again, would he feel happier with the current elitest system, or not?

What is his greatest regret?

Not participating as a quartet player like Adolf Busch?

November 15, 2007 at 08:53 PM · I would like to have the recording of Giancarlo Menotti Concerto I once listened to on the radio.It was great!!!!

November 15, 2007 at 09:00 PM · How do you feel about electric violins?

November 15, 2007 at 09:47 PM · Ricci is as American as it gets. He is of Italian heritage. He apparently retired to Palm Springs California.

While apparently his parents gave him the name Ruggiero when he was christened, his birth certifcate has him as Woodrow Wilson Ricci.

November 15, 2007 at 10:09 PM · Will you ask him if he really used toothpaste on the pegs of his Storioni violin to keep them from slipping? I won't say the source, but that's the story I heard . . .

Also, something I admire about Ricci is his strength--he's a scrappy violinist (in a dignified and beautiful sounding way :-)). I want to know what he thinks about conditioning. How do you play a full concert of all the Paganini Caprices and make it out alive? What is the best way to maintain physical strength, efficiently use the strength you have and keep the fingers moving?

November 15, 2007 at 10:33 PM · LOL, how do you make it out alive...it's so true! Not that I've ever even come close to doing that!

November 15, 2007 at 10:32 PM · Greetings,

Mr. Ricci is famous for performing a great deal of unaccompanied works only programs. Are there any differneces in how one approaches such a concert technically or musically?

If you could use only two exercises to sustain your technique (one for each hand) which would you use?

If you had to define yourself in relation to the twentieth century violin scene how would you describe yourself?

What do you think about the role of competitions?



November 16, 2007 at 12:40 AM · I would ask him if it is published a complete list of all his recordings, since first to last. I believe that they are more than 500,

November 16, 2007 at 05:51 PM · Those are good ones, Buri. It looks like Robert is going to come along to this one, so maybe we can video some technical demonstrations.

November 18, 2007 at 03:56 PM · I would be curious as to his thoughts about the use of vibrato in virtuoso violin technique. I think a player who only possessed arm generated would have difficulty employing the inward wrist Prof. Ricci advocates in the lower positions, (or shall we call lower regions of the violin). Also, has he used the nonshifting glissando technique throughout his career, or is this something he figured out later in life. I also wonder if some of his thoughts were influenced by discussions with Stanley Ritchie, the well known period instrument performer who teaches at Indiana Univerity.

November 18, 2007 at 04:28 PM · One other question: is the general technique he advocates similar to what I posted back in Jan. 2006 in the following discussion? http://www.violinist.com/discussion//response.cfm?ID=8400

November 19, 2007 at 02:52 AM · Good Luck with your interview Laurie.

Who are some of his favorite violinist of his era? and what kind of vibrato did Kreisler use?

November 18, 2007 at 07:50 PM · I would love to know what it's really like for a young prodigy playing with major orchestras at a super young age. When he started taking lessons did exercises come easy? While the rest of us struggled did he just play a four octave scale right off the bat? I think you get the gist of what I'm trying to convey.

Good luck with your interview.

November 18, 2007 at 08:19 PM · How does he feel about the fact that (nearly) all top violinists sound the same today?

What does he think as been the cause of this "lost finger print" in sound?

How does he think the almost universal change from gut string to synthetics has influenced playing and sound?

November 20, 2007 at 01:48 AM · Does he still stay in contact with his old student, Lisa Lantz?

November 20, 2007 at 03:29 AM · Thanks for all your questions, everyone! I had a lovely talk with him today and the interview should be up sometime in the next week. :)

November 20, 2007 at 03:49 PM · 1. does his passport really say woodrow wilson rich?

2. does he use a computer these days (thus have access to v.com:)?

3. reportedly, mr ricci once said all the prodigies and their parents should be lined up against a wall and shot. having spectacularly channelled his prodiginess into a lifetime of fine musicianship, what other creative ways would he recommend dealing with kids and their parents?

November 21, 2007 at 03:49 AM · I live about 1 hour from Mr. Ricci. It is a wonderful experience to play for him. He is inspiring and makes the instrument simple. He told me that if its hard then your doing something wrong. I grew so much from working with him... NOvebmr 30th at Zipper Hall in the Colburn School I'm playing 60 variation on Barucaba... 8pm... please come and check out tickets at www.strayeddogs.com

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