Six degrees of Simon Fischer

August 14, 2008 at 10:37 PM · You've heard of the game Six degrees of Kevin Bacon, yes?

Let's explore just how in-bred this classical world of ours is. More so, I'd argue, than even the world of movies. I'm going to argue that you can connect any two classical musicians through their teachers, orchestras, etc., probably in about four degrees!

Call the game...."Six degrees of Simon Fischer." The aim of the game, as with SDOKB, is to come up with the most ridiculous connections possible.

Basically I'm asking you to connect yourself with well-known musicians. Or, you can connect musicians with each other. For example:

I was a student of Gerardo Ribeiro, who was a student of Ivan Galamian, who taught Dorothy DeLay, who taught... Simon Fischer! Three degrees!


Robert figured out a way to connect me to Paganini in one degree:

My violin was played (okay for, like, a few 2-minute demonstrations) by Ruggiero Ricci, who also played the "Cannone" violin that was played by... Paganini! One degree from Paganini!

Seems like if you can get to Ivan Galamian, Josef Gingold or Dorothy DeLay, you can connect with just about any violinist.

How many degrees are you from ...Simon Fischer? Heifetz? Paganini? Brahms? Sting? Can you connect Gil Shaham with Led Zeppelin?

And then just to really connect everything:

Simon Fischer performed on "Ten Summoners Tales" with Sting.

Sting did the music for "Emperor's New Groove," starring John Goodman.

John Goodman was in "Death Sentence" with...

Kevin Bacon!

(Credit to Robert and his wicked Internet search skills for that one!)

Replies (66)

August 14, 2008 at 11:02 PM · I have played the real "Red" Mendelssohn strad currently played by Elizabeth Pitcairn. Strad-Mendelssohn to all the other soloists that had that strad haha.

um this is too hard

August 14, 2008 at 11:28 PM · My former violin teacher studied with Josef Gingold, who was the teacher of someone you're about to interview: Joshua Bell!

My current teacher studied with Arnold Steinhardt (and undergrad with DeLay), and my current piano teacher studied with Jerome Lowenthal, so I'm connected to anyone who's connected to them! (She also had masterclasses with Leon Fleischer and he goes back 5 degrees to Beethoven as a pianist!)

August 14, 2008 at 11:30 PM · There are always hubs

Let's restrict them to people rather than fiddles, eh?


August 14, 2008 at 11:31 PM · No way! The fiddles ARE people, fool! ;)

August 15, 2008 at 12:43 AM · hehehehehhehhe!

Laurie, then I am connected to too many people whose names I don't know

Every old school fiddle dealer had a fiddle that they wouldn't sell, but loved, and showed to every decent player who crossed the threshold.

The dealer who owned my violin in that way was situated round the corner from the Colston Hall in Bristol, and was visited by all the great soloists who played there.

He bought my violin in the early 60's so who knows who has played it - the roster of the violinists who played at the Colston Hall, probably.

How to get to Simon Fischer????

I can get to Jascha Heifetz with one meeting on the London Underground - I met his cousin down there, more than once, and she told me, " my cousin plays fiddle".

She looked like him, too.

ah, I stll work sometimes with Daevid Allen, who was friendly with Jimi Hendrix, worked with William Burroughs, knew Robert Graves. They are hubs, what?

Sting? Ah, well he was in a band called Strontium 90, with Mike Howlett, whom I know through playing in Gong.

Charlie Parker, I connect to through Tony Scott, who stayed for a fortnight in the house I lived in, in 1986 or 7.

So that's two connections to Miles Davis, through Hendrix and Parker. Now they really are hubs.

My old mate Graham Massey, straight to Bjork (what kind of a hub is she?)

I had a teacher for a while whose teacher was taught by Ysaye (and I have some of his bowing exercises).

I bought Nigel Kennedy a Pils once at the Bulls Head in Barnes. Alec Dankworth introduced us. His sister Jacquie did somegigs with my old band as well. So through them, yo get to the Royal family via their parents.

too much: there are many more! At least this makes name dropping less uncool!


August 15, 2008 at 01:02 AM · I went to high school with David Kim, who studied with Dorothy DeLay.

I also studied with Larry Sonderling, who studied with Ruggiero Ricci, who played Laurie's violin that time . . .

August 15, 2008 at 02:33 AM · My teacher owns a copy of Basics written by, wait for it, Simon Fisher. 2 degrees!

August 15, 2008 at 02:47 AM · Simon Fischer: Sang Beethoven #9 with Sherban Lupu as concertmaster. He was a DeLay student, so two intermediaries, unless Lupu knows Fischer, then one.

...and I'm not even a violinist. ;-)

But as I previously have noted, my Heifetz Number is three.

August 15, 2008 at 04:24 AM · My friend studied with Gerardo Ribeiro, who was a student of Ivan Galamian, who taught Dorothy DeLay, who taught Simon Fischer.

I went to IU summer academy with someone with the same last name as Riccardo Muti. I asked if he was related...the gesture he made suggested it wasn't the first time.

According to a facebook quiz, I'm Maxim Vengerov. What is that, like, zero degrees? Freaky...

August 15, 2008 at 01:26 PM · My wife's great-grandmother sat on Brahms' lap as a child. Would that make my Brahms number four, or two?

And, of course, I own a copy of "Basics", written by Simon Fischer.

On second thought, the "own book by" or "own CD played by" links are pretty weak!

August 15, 2008 at 04:33 AM · Actually, compared to the original Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, the music world is kind of easy. :(

August 15, 2008 at 04:35 AM · This took a few more than six:

Vanessa Mae studied with

Felix Andrievsky, who studied with

Yuri Yankelevich, who studied with

I.R. Nalbandian, who studied with

Leopold Auer, who taught

Vladimir Graffman, who taught

Josef Gingold, who taught

Henryk Kowalski, who taught...

Laurie Niles!

August 15, 2008 at 05:38 AM · My teacher’s teacher was David Oistrakh, who was the student of Stolyarsky, who also taught Nathan Milstein... I'm sure Simon Fischer can be conntected someone along this line.

August 15, 2008 at 06:15 AM · Mathematicians speak of their "Erdos numbers," the degrees of separation (defined by publication of articles with people) between themselves and Paul Erdos.

My Auer number is three, three ways: I studied with Dona Lee Croft, whose teachers Nathan Milstein and Benno Rabinoff both studied with Auer; I currently study with Bayla Keyes, who studied with Oscar Shumsky, who studied with Auer.

My Galamian number is two, two ways, through both of my aforementioned teachers, who both studied with him.

August 15, 2008 at 07:07 AM · Galamian is such a huge hub that you can connect just about anyone in less than six degrees.

I was a student of Michael Ma, a student of Galamian.

I was also a student of Walter Olivares, a student of Galamian.

Galamian also taught Gerardo Ribeiro, who taught Laurie Niles. That means Laurie and I are cousins.

August 15, 2008 at 07:33 AM · LOL, Anne!

And I have a cousin in Alaska :)

August 15, 2008 at 09:23 AM · I taught Ella Nicholson, who is Vanessa Mae's cousin by marriage.

August 15, 2008 at 01:45 PM · Must mean we're all related! One of my teachers studied with Galamian, Gingold and Fenyves, so I must be realted to everyone here then. :)

August 15, 2008 at 04:03 PM · I play the same instrument as...

August 15, 2008 at 04:17 PM · Niccolo Paganini's only "pupil" was Sivori. Sivori taught Fortunato Francescatti, who was his son's (Zino's) major teacher. And I saw Zino Francescatti play once. How's that for violinistic royal lineage?


August 16, 2008 at 03:56 AM ·

August 15, 2008 at 09:59 PM · My teacher studied under a pupil of Leopold Auer, who had Jascha Heifetz as a pupil too! (and in fact my teacher's teacher was the conductor when Heifetz played Mendelssohn concerto at the age of 7, if I'm not mistaken!)

August 16, 2008 at 12:34 AM · "ah, I stll work sometimes with Daevid Allen, who was friendly with Jimi Hendrix, worked with William Burroughs, knew Robert Graves. They are hubs, what?"

Jimi Hendrix lived in the same London house as Handel - so you have a link to him as well!

August 16, 2008 at 12:51 AM · "Jimi Hendrix lived in the same London house as Handel - so you have a link to him as well!"

Not at the same time, though ;)

heh heheh gc

August 16, 2008 at 01:07 AM · I played the Messiah, so I have a connection to Daevid Allen.

August 16, 2008 at 01:22 AM · I studied with Dorothy DeLay, my current teacher studied with her. Now I'm confused, LOL.

August 16, 2008 at 03:20 AM · My teacher's teacher's teacher was Lucien Capet. I just call him great grandpa Lucien.

August 16, 2008 at 09:10 AM · "I played the Messiah, so I have a connection to Daevid Allen."



August 17, 2008 at 12:45 PM · My mothers seconed cousin, who is 1 year older than mum and, they where close during childhood, was the Director of Music and a instructor at The Vienna Conservatorium from 1954 to 1964.

Her name is Hedy Krenzjoch, she was a pianist and knew Alfred Brendel very well. I can not find any violinists that studied or tutored during this time. But I wonder if Fritz Kriesler ever passed that way in the mid 50's.

Mums not a musician, does it still count?

August 17, 2008 at 02:19 PM · I played the Messiah, so I have a connection to Daevid Allen.


You don't expect us to believe that without proof I hope.

August 17, 2008 at 06:15 PM · I know. I almost can't believe it myself.

August 18, 2008 at 02:00 PM · My last teacher at college, Ruth Crouch, studied with Emanuel Hurwitz (who studied at RAM with Sydney Robjohns, an Australian was pupil of Joachim) and again Max Rostal. My other teacher at college, Edwin Paling, studied with Norbert Brainin (Amadeus Quartet), who studied with Carl Felsch and Max Rostal. Both Flesch and Rostal taught Yfra Neaman, who taught Simon Fischer. My new teacher, David Adams, studied with Daniel Phillips, who was another Galamian teacher. It really is such a small, musical world!

August 19, 2008 at 09:08 AM · Ha, I played in a masterclass with Simon Fisher

hee hee

August 19, 2008 at 09:09 AM · And my old teacher was a student of Menuhin, another old teacher was a student of Maurizio Fuks who himself was a student of Galamian.

August 19, 2008 at 01:19 PM · I studied with Henry Brahinsky (my father), who taught Jack Glatzer, who studied with Maxim Jacobsen, who taught Benito Mussolini.

August 19, 2008 at 02:02 PM · I've played several pops concerts with Marvin Hamlisch, who composed the music for Starting Over, which Kevin Bacon was in. That's probably the shortest connection. But also:

My father was in the Dallas Symphony under music director Jacques Singer, whose daughter, Lori Singer, was in Footloose with Kevin Bacon.

I think these next two would work for all of us on

I've played many works by Mozart, who was played in Amadeus by Tom Hulce, who was in Animal House with Kevin Bacon.

I've played many works by Beethoven, who was played in Immortal Beloved by Gary Oldman, who was in Criminal Law and Murder in the First with Kevin Bacon.

August 19, 2008 at 02:56 PM · I take lessons from Rachel Schenker who was a student of Gingold. As a child, I took lessons from Gerald Gelbloom who was a student of Galamian.

August 19, 2008 at 09:05 PM · LOL Eric, so far you bring home the Bacon Award!

August 19, 2008 at 09:18 PM · Actually, maybe I should put in for the Bacon award. A colleague of mine many years ago was married to Bacon's sister.

August 20, 2008 at 03:51 AM · Musically I link indirectly to Heifetz, Milstein, and Galamian through my teacher. Erick Friedman had one lesson with Dorothy DeLay while Galamian was out recovering from surgery so I guess I link to her in some way and Simon Fischer who was her student :)

I played on Viotti's own Stradivarius and Joachim's Guarnerius, and for a year played Michael Rabin's Amati on loan to me so I link directly to them I guess haha.

I played violin in a film recently with Danny Devito (he was very happy that I was using an Italian violin - he said to me "Italians are the best." : ) ) on screen so I guess I link to him or whoever he knows (which probably includes Bacon) haha.

August 20, 2008 at 12:43 PM · And I know you Nate :)

September 22, 2008 at 11:58 AM · I'm 3 degrees from Flesch, Enescu and Sevcik, through my teacher's teacher, which I guess puts me close to most (and but 5 from Viotti).

(How many from Simon Fischer, I'm not sure)

September 24, 2008 at 03:25 PM · This thread got a mention in the October '08 issue of The Strad magazine (page 11, in the "In Brief" column).

September 24, 2008 at 10:57 PM · Greetings,

I have a distant cousin related to Mussolini who once held Milstein`s violin for a few seconds when he wans`t making trains run on time.



September 25, 2008 at 03:46 PM · My father was fortunate enough to have played the Adagio for Strings with Samuel Barber conducting the orchestra. Here is my link...Dad---Samuel Barber---Tom Hanks. ha ha

October 11, 2008 at 10:03 PM · I have appeared on stage with Plant and Page (Led Zep) and Gil Shaham, and recorded with Simon Fisher. This game is too easy.

October 12, 2008 at 03:39 AM · I took with a teacher who studied with Ivan Galamian in her youth and then with Dorothy Delay at Julliard. I took with another teacher who also studied with Delay at Julliard. I guess that would connect me with Delay in two ways!

October 17, 2008 at 01:47 PM · :)

My teacher, Joseph Pach,

was a student of Kathleen Parlow,

the first foreigner to study at the St Petersburg Conservatory

under Leopold Auer

who taught Heifitz, Milstein, etc etc

Although I wonder if Parlow was there when either of those were there, which would bring the connections down too.

She definitely met Sibelius and Glazunov.

October 17, 2008 at 02:01 PM · So what! I'm 4 degrees of separation from Paganini. Paganini taught Sivori, Sivori taught Fortunato Francescatti, Fortunato taught his son (Zino), and I saw Zino play in person once.

:) Sandy

PS. No, I never heard Paganini play.

October 10, 2009 at 10:47 AM ·

Simon Fischer studied with Dorothy Delay

Dorothy Delay studied with Ivan Galamian

Ivan Galamian taught Vera Beths

Vera Beths taught Veselina Manikova

Veselina Manikova taught Romana Porumb

Romana Porumb teaches me! (as of October 1st)

Six. Unbelievable.

October 10, 2009 at 11:13 AM ·

I saw Hilary Hahn in concert, who studied with Jascha Brodsky, who studied with Ysaye!

October 10, 2009 at 08:02 PM ·

Dorothy DeLay taught Won-Bin Yim

Won-Bin Yim taught Tze Yean Lim

Tze Yean Lim is my teacher

October 10, 2009 at 09:41 PM ·

   "Seems like if you can get to Ivan Galamian, Josef Gingold or Dorothy DeLay, you can connect with just about any violinist."

Seems straightforward enough.

I can do most "moves" in under 4......;)

Here's a nice one. My violin was broken (crack) so I borrowed another....the borrowed one was bought by a player who travelled to Prague in the hope of playing for Mozart in 1791.....apparently. (That would be something if it could be proven)


October 10, 2009 at 09:42 PM ·

 Oh yes, I think I've sat in the section with Simon with his Dad that's easy...

October 11, 2009 at 02:30 AM ·


Vieuxtemps and Wieniawski taught Ysaye, who taught Persinger, who taught Stern, Menuhin, Ricci, and Almita Vamos, who taught Rachel Barton Pine, Jennifer Koh, and me.

Galamian taught Rabin, Perlman, Chung, Zukerman, DeLay (who taught Chang, Salerno-Sonnenberg, and others), Steinhardt, and Tom Wermuth, who taught me!

This is so neat!

October 11, 2009 at 05:18 AM ·

.. and, of course, we all participate in the a violin internet community with Simon Fischer ..

no, that's too easy!

October 12, 2009 at 06:09 PM ·

I had a colleague now deceased, whose second wife was Kevin Bacon's sister and whose daughter is Kevin Bacon's niece.

August 28, 2012 at 12:40 PM · A few weeks ago a musical colleague showed me a photo of his grandmother with Sevcik, mounted with a personal letter.


August 28, 2012 at 03:43 PM · Ive got one!

My teacher: John Wilcox

John Wilcox studied with Richard Burgan (former CM of Boston)

Richard Burgan studied with Joachim AND

Richard Burgan also studied with Auer after Joachim.

Now Joachim was friends with Brahms so I guess we're distant homies. lol

Auer taught pretty much everyone from the early 1900's. Plus, was in contact with Tchaikovsky for the "unplayable" concerto. Sooooo I guess I have a lot of clicks but you get the idea. My connection to them is closer than I realized.

My other teacher studied with Schmuel Ashkenasi of the Vermeer Quartet and they were pretty sweet. Thats one click, Right?

I'm confused now...

August 28, 2012 at 04:43 PM · I don't need more than a couple degrees for some great connections. :) My violin prof, Homer Garretson, was a grad student of Paul Rolland. My prof in Belgium, Valere Laenaarts, was concertmaster at Antwerp & second to Artur Grumiaux in the queen's prize (which led to his career as a concert soloist.)

August 28, 2012 at 05:02 PM · There can never be more than one degree. Laurie connects us all. :)

August 29, 2012 at 12:36 PM · What a wonderful opportunity this discussion is for legitimate name-dropping!

My violin teacher, Jane Harbour, was a personal pupil of Shinichi Suzuki in Japan. He in turn was a pupil of Karl Klingler, a pupil of Joachim. From Joachim you can trace the line of teachers back to Corelli and beyond - some relevant names in Corelli's line may be G.B. Nassani, G.B. Vitali, and Maurizio Cazzati, but verification would probably need serious research in sources in Italy.

Jane's mother, also a teacher, was taught by Frederick Grinke; his line back to G.B. Viotti included Emile Sauret, Henri Vieuxtemps, and Charles Beriot on the way. The line back from Viotti to Corelli is Viotti - Pugnani - Somis - Corelli. Going forward from Viotti we have Viotti - Pierre Rode - Josef Bohm - Joachim.

Joachim was also the first President of Bristol Music Club, of which I am a member. A portrait of him playing the violin is in the club's main rehearsal room/concert salon, overseeing the proceedings.

On my violin teacher's band's (Spiro) latest CD I am listed on the sleeve credits alongside Peter Gabriel and several other luminaries (all I had done was background historical research on the music for one of the tracks on the CD).

My late piano teacher, Nesta Franklyn, told me she could trace her teaching roots back to Chopin.

My late cello teacher Arthur Alexander once gifted me with a one-off lesson with Christopher Bunting, who had been one of Pablo Casals's very few private pupils. Unfortunately, I have no information about Arthur's antecedents except that his family came to England from Eastern Europe in the early 20th century.

It should be remembered that most musicians have had more than one teacher, and with a number of teachers, although the quality can be variable, there is usually at least one who has an outstanding and lasting influence on the pupil. Such teachers are the ones most usefully listed in a family tree.

August 29, 2012 at 09:52 PM · I met Mr. Fischer. Does that count as one degree?

August 30, 2012 at 07:48 AM · Deary me, seems I'm the odd one out.

Let me see now, my teachers were taught idea.

My violin was previously owned or played idea.

Maybe I should just stick with the two books I bought from Simon Fischer! Does that count as half a degree?

August 30, 2012 at 09:24 AM · Half a degree? If you study, absorb, and apply those books, you deserve a whole doctorate!

August 30, 2012 at 09:43 AM · Trevor - I studied with Frederick Grinke - and I've worked with SF (Both were a while ago ...)

Fred studied with Carl Flesch ... etc., etc.

What's all this name dropping anyway? (Generally, not you Trevor!)

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