Ida Haendel still amazing at age 81!

February 10, 2009 at 05:27 AM ·

Ida Haendel is turning 81 this year, and yet she still manages to dazzle the classical community with her well-kept technique and unique sound/interpretations!

Here's an amazing video of her at the age of 78 performing Tchaikovsky's Danse Russe (swan lake)...

There is also a documentary on Ms. Haendel uploaded in its entirety in HD which is very captivating:


Replies (24)

February 11, 2009 at 01:48 AM ·

Wow!! I have always said that one of the only ones who really managed to play with the energy and virtuosity of a young when getting older was Oistrakh but I guess I really HAVE TO put Ida Haendel in this category (she sound probably better than many young soloists at 80!) True artists are really resistent and can play marvels until 100!  This incredible player that she is would "pop out" of her no matter her age.   I wish her health for many many years to come!

The documentary was so interesting, I stoped everything and had to listen to it!  I liked so much her little Decca.  How great is it to travel with her little friend by her side! I admire her energy to travel around the world and hope she will come again to Montreal!


February 11, 2009 at 04:09 AM ·

 She is quite amazing, inspiring in fact. Although it's sad that she wasn't put on such a pedestal as the likes of Menuhin or Oistrakh, she has certainly made a name for herself!

February 11, 2009 at 02:29 PM ·

Adam, yes in fact in these days it was very difficult I think for female performers to make a name because they were less than today. But Ida Haendel is really as extraordinairy as Kreisler, Heifetz, Oistrakh, Milshtein etc!  I will forever admire the first girls who really fought hard in the days where they were less numerous in violin (because the style back then was to be mom at home etc Just an anecdote to show the way of thinking, Slava even told to his daugter in a fight that women should never play the cello. How ridiculous!) and had to prove even more that they could do it(Ida Haendel, Ginette Neveu, Maud Powell etc)!  How wonderful that they dare do something original and different from the stereotype! Bravo!


February 11, 2009 at 03:34 PM ·

Fantastic. I heard Milstein in person at 80, and he was better than great. So is Ms. Haendel.

February 11, 2009 at 05:18 PM ·

Thank you for sharing this documentary with us.

As I looked at her face, it was a face that has truly seen everything. Watching that documentary, she became such a fascinating person to me! It is so sad that she wasn't/isn't more well known. I've only heard of her a few times.

She lives such a fascinating life and she seems like a person that one could learn much from-- not just musically. I also love the fighting spirit that she has... The one that will never let someone tell her she is too old to do something (especially musically). I also enjoyed seeing the relationship she had with her instrument and how untrusting she was of many people to handle it.

I just think it's amazing and having someone like her is having a living-glimpse into history. Her sound is as if pulled-out of decades ago... When hearing her performance it sounds exactly like the days of Heifitz or Oistrakh. I truly believe the woman deserves more recognition.

Such an interesting person is all I can say about Ida Haendel. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

February 11, 2009 at 07:01 PM ·

Just wanted to add my thanks to Patrick.  Ida Haendel is a true inspiration and certainly a violinist to be cherished.   

February 11, 2009 at 09:47 PM ·

I've seen her play a few times in the '70s and '80s when she would have been in her  relatively-young 40s and 50s,  it's wonderful to see how well she's ageing.  And if anything (in her Zigeunerweisen) she makes a more beautiful sound than I've ever heard her make before.

February 12, 2009 at 01:18 AM ·

Here are some interesting articles that explain many things. Here are the links:

I am steel so enthousiastic about the great performances and documentary. I showed this Russian dance from Swan Lake to my mom this morning and although she can not understand fully my love for the instrument and great music (as we all have here), she found it very impressing!



February 12, 2009 at 04:13 AM ·


very interesting .  Thanks for posting them. Some typical banalities and generalizations are par for the course I suppose.   I don`t know that many violnist for exmaple who have decied the Chacconne happily purts Anna Magdelena to rest.   Aside from those who don`t even think much about the programmatic element (too many notes ot worry about) I note Tetzlaff amng others has pointed lut that the `spiritual acceptance`  as it were,  of our ephemeral existence is actually found in the c major fugue.  For that reason he argued the absolute necessity of following the d minor partita with the c major sonata for programmatic continuity.

I am sure Ida Haendel has been the victim of prejudice of various kinds including that stirred by those who thought her incredible placing in competition at 7 was wrong. (I don`t have an opinion on that);  thta agianst women;  againt Jews; againbst old people and so forth.  Nonetheless,   it remains true that a solo career is frequently denied even this evel of palyer through personal choices (Kyung wa Chung for example) or quesitons of luck,  or even that her wonderful palying wasnot so clearly individualistic as the other great players of that era.   However,  I do still have indelibly etched in my mind a double stop slide she paled in the Walton cocnerto at a prom cocnert I artended ata round age ten.  Because of those few notes I have never been truly truly satisfied by any other performanc eof that work.  I hate it when that happens!!!!!!



February 12, 2009 at 04:50 PM ·

Ida Haendel probably suffered from three prejudices: she is a European woman who reached her peak when female soloists were almost unheard of (even orchestras in London often had very few female members due to male chauvinism). Secondly, she probably was a little bit bolshy, certainly didn't suffer fools and was probably a little threatening to some, and thirdly there is no doubt that she is right to comment that nowadays there is enormous prejudice against aging players (unless they are male and absolute legends).

Youth sells tickets apparently. In the case of Hilary Hahn, and Ann-Sophie Mutter (at the time) that's a good thing. But why do we all collect historic recordings and videos of the masters of the golden age? Is it pure nostalgia or do these legendary players really have something so much more individual to offer? One answer might lie with Haendel herself, since she looks to me to have a pretty unique sound and vibrato style which certainly gives her a very individual tone.

Some players tell me that certain colleges will now not even accept students (or at least discourage them once they arrive at college) if they "only" have wrist or finger vibrato, on the basis that only arm vibrato, apparently, is a valid form of expressive technique. I don't know if this is just a rumour but it does seem that 95% of fresh young soloists all seem to vibrate in exactly the same way, which no doubt makes for an efficient sound, but doesn't give much scope for individuality.


February 13, 2009 at 01:36 AM ·

we are very pleased that you have watched the videos we have posted on our "miamipianofestival" channel., especially "I Am The Violin"  The discussion here has been very interesting. There are other Haendel clips on our channel including clips from DVDs we have produced.  -hope you will view them. Thanks


Miami International Piano Festival

February 21, 2009 at 11:04 AM ·

It is a great tragedy that Ida Haendel has become a victom of this ageist society. It seems to be impossible for her to perform on European concert platforms in the face of young attractive female performers many of whom are talented players but often lack the depth of musicality that Ida has achieved in her eight decades. She still can teach all of us a great deal about fiddle playing. It would be wonderful to hear her in the repertoire that rightly made her an outstanding performer of her generation. Impresarios take note please !

February 25, 2009 at 08:01 PM ·

TBH, the reason why Ida Haendel is the way she is, is because she has that personality.

You can either like or dislike such people, but remain indifferent impossible!

She has contributed a huge amount to music, & very frequently played in Europe and the UK.

Also remember D well as a certain Celibidache.


This is one of the "Flesch" generation.

Not many left now, and all memorable.

March 5, 2009 at 03:29 PM ·

There are also some other great women violinists besides Ida Haendel that were well known and famous in the 1960's or 1970's ... for example,  Suzanne Lautenbacher and Johanna Martzy.

Johanna Martzy was a hungarian Violinist who passed away from cancer in 1979 when she was only 54.  Suzanne lautenbacher is a german violinist born in 1932. Both masters were indeed great.

Here are two links you may find interesting :

Has anyone listened to some of their recordings ? (they are available in YouTube as well).

March 5, 2009 at 11:01 PM ·

also, Erica Morini, Camilla Wicks and Edith Peinemann who had taught in Frankfurt-Germany and probably now lives in the Boston area come to (my) mind.


March 6, 2009 at 10:14 PM ·

I remember the first time I heard Ida Haendel.  It was the very short clip in the Art of the Violin and the tone she produced took my breath away.  Since then I've listened to her recordings fairly regularly, but it's a shame that she's not well know to people outside of other violinists. 

Also, violinists like her and Milstein who can play the Brahms Concerto at 79 or the Bach Chaccone in their 80s....are like heros to me.  It makes me constantly think about how I'm playing the violin (could I do this this way when I'm 80?)

March 7, 2009 at 12:55 AM ·

Joseph, how true!  Many violinist don't play like this at 80 or stop to do much concerts which is pretty normal too.  But those who still do are heros for sure!


March 7, 2009 at 03:00 AM ·

There is a video on Youtube of her playing Zigunerweisen in 2006....a lot older than 80!  She was amazing...I met her in early January and she is a character!

March 7, 2009 at 06:55 AM ·

I saw Ida Haendel at her recital in 2007.  She played Bach Chaconne, Tchaikovsky Danse Ruse, Handel Te Deum, all unacommpanied, followed by some show pieces with piano.  She was truly amazing.

March 8, 2009 at 01:03 AM ·

Ida Haendel's recording of the Britten Concerto is extraordinary, it's not that well known but in my opinion it's her greatest achievement and one of the most powerful, compelling violin recordings.

March 8, 2009 at 01:07 AM ·

...I meant to also back up the previous mention of Martzy, a marvellous violinist. Her Brahms, Dvorak, Mendelssohn concertos are tremendous, and I remember especially a live recording of Szymanowski Notturno and Tarantella. N.

March 11, 2009 at 03:06 AM ·

I have just started violin.  I am 44 and I've had classical piano as my background.  For 20 years I did nothing with it, and now, instead of following piano, I've decided to play the violin. 

After reading about Ida and watching some of her clips I'm thrilled to think that so much is possible for a human being of any age.  I'm thrilled that I too will have a chance to play beautifully in 10 years or so.  But first, the baby steps.

I have a dream that when I'm 54, I will audition for a place in one of the Sydney orchestras and whether I will get the spot or not, won't really matter.  What will matter is that I will feel good enough to step up to the podium and try. 

This is a great site.  




March 11, 2009 at 04:12 AM ·


If you have a good teacher and are willing to practice everyday (or six days a week ;)) in small incrmenets then ther eis no reaosn why you cannot be a very fine violnist within three or four years.  Ten years is way out the ball park as far as i am cocnerned,  especially with a solid background in piano. Gives oyu a terrific edge.



March 11, 2009 at 05:04 AM ·

Hello and thank you for responding. 

My violin teacher is a sixth grader going to seventh grade this year.  She's 15 and rather sweet.  I've only had one lesson with her so far, and she seemed a little nervous.  I trust that we'll get along well and even though friends (non-musical ones) have said that she's too young and inexperienced, I'm willing to give her a try.  The director of the school has said that she's very very talented.  That's what I'm after, her violin knowledge.  Musically we're about the same (I'm an eight grader in the Australian system)

I will however explain to her that I'm easy going about being instructed on technique so she doesn't feel awkward telling an older person what to do.  I'd imagine that her teacher would no doubt ask her about her students and give her advice about how to approach an older student. 

But for now, Ida has become one of my role models.




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