Erick Friedman

April 13, 2004 at 04:44 AM · The death of violinist Erick Friedman came to me today, in great shock, as I have been a great admirer of his playing. 3 months ago I had sent an e-mail to him regarding taking some coaching lessons with him. Unfortunately it seems I have missed my chance!

Another great musician will be missed.


Replies (20)

April 13, 2004 at 04:53 AM · Greetings,

Peter, Emil posted a thread on this great player and person`s passing. It is probably way down the list now, but take a look,


April 13, 2004 at 07:52 PM · I, too, am very sorry to hear of Friedman's death. I often watch him on the Heifetz masterclass videos.

I, too, sent Freidman an e-mail (about 6 months ago). At that time I was interested in writing a book about Leonid Kogan who, as you may remember, was the subject of a documentary/video narrated by Friedman. I wanted to discuss this possibility with Friedman but I received no reply - perhaps because Friedman was ill.

He will indeed be sadly missed.

April 13, 2004 at 08:42 PM · Someone once told me the best gift you can give someone grieving over the death of a loved one was to write down a memory of that person.

By approving another post, I thought I'd give everyone another chance to write down their memories, experiences and impressions of Erick Friedmann for us all to share.

April 13, 2004 at 09:05 PM · An amazing artist, teacher, and performer. He gave so much to the world of music and to anyone who come in contact with him. He will be greatly missed.

April 14, 2004 at 01:56 AM · Greetings,

Laurie, I agree with you completely. It might be nice to have a photo and brief biog up for a while, too. Or a least, in a special section. The music world lost Varga and Bean recently too.

My comment was not directed at the double posting as such. I was more cocnerned that the original poster had not had the opportunity to read the first messages since this is a rather active board and it is easy to lose things,



April 14, 2004 at 04:37 AM · I'll never forget sitting with Friedman at Naples Pizza in New Haven while he regaled me with his memories of his time with Jascha Heifetz. For example, the following:

After a rather successful concert of his, Friedman said, he had spotted this absolutely stunning young woman at the post concert reception. Naturally, even at the tender age of 17 (if I recall aright), he made a beeline for her and began chatting her up. And, to his satisfaction, things were progressing rather well when, suddenly, Heifetz walked over.

"Hello," he said to the awestruck young lady. "My name is Jascha Heifetz. Have you met my young student, Erick Friedman?"

Naturally, Friedman's stock plummetted instantly, as it were. Whether JH ended up squiring the lady home is something that escapes my memory, though.

And another: Heifetz was, as many people know, a championship-level ping-pong player. Friedman was also no slouch and so, once, ended up playing ping-pong with the Master. Unfortunately, Friedman was rather tall and the ceiling in JH's rec room was rather low. And so Friedman found his swing somewhat hampered, with the result that JH was absolutely beating the pants off him. But what was surprising was that winning didn't seem to be making JH happy.

The reason for this became abruptly apparent when JH suddenly stopped and demanded that Friedman stop throwing the game. It took a lot, according to Friedman, to convince Heifetz that he wasn't throwing the game but was rather hampered by the room's dimensions.

As for Friedman's teaching, I always remember something he said to me once at a lesson. I don't recall what the piece in question was, but I do recall that I was inordinately proud of this complex fingering I had thought up for this one passage. The problem was that the complex fingering was possibly better for musical intention but infinitely more dangerous for simple intonation.

"You know," Friedman began meditatively, "my father was a doctor. Now, if he were to perform an operation like this," he continued, swinging one leg over his right arm, "in order to impress his fellow operating room colleagues, he might succeed in impressing them. But if he fails, the patient ends up dead. Don't you think the patient would rather be more assured of his chances by the doctor not showboating?? Safe is always better than showy and sorry!"

Whenever a passage refuses to come together because I'm trying hard to play to the violinists in the crowd, I hear his voice in my head even now...

April 15, 2004 at 09:17 AM · I found him to be very congenial and insightful as a teacher. He had a special knack for encouraging the student to approach violin-playing with some consideration of their own physical dimensions;as in using your height to good advantage.He advised one friend of mine ( a superb fiddle player) to not crouch - even mentally- just because he was tall.

He really liked to get inside the composers head as well, letting his intuition ascribe the deeper meanings that underlie compositions - such as the poverty and suffering that Franck suffered in life, and that is evident in his vln/pno Sonata.

He always seemed to be having fun, and was very frank( without being bruising)and positive.

April 14, 2004 at 03:58 PM · Hello Everyone, and thank you Laurie for bringing this post on your discussions site.

As Emil and Thomas have given wonderful insights into his teaching, I can add he was truly a very warm, concerned and dedicated artist who will sorely be missed.

He was a philosopher when he taught, always providing the analogies, and making you think about what you were doing as a violinist and artist. I'll never forget one of the first assignments he gave "I would like you to write a treatise for me on Beethoven's 3rd and 5th symphony, due in 2 weeks". We were studying Mendelssohn at the time, and one might think what does this have to do with my concerto? Well, it had a lot to do with the composer and his life. I realized going through the research that he wanted me to think about the piece of music I was preparing, not just to play the notes. It also gave him insight into my character as well, and I noticed that he shaped our lessons based on what he learned about me through my writing. He was a very special teacher, and friend.

He knew a great deal about violinists, and artists, and did his utmost to help his kids (we were not just his students) and for me he was as close. I remember he told me that Heifetz gave him the letters his father wrote in correspondence with Leopold Auer. It was from them, that he used as a guide in continuing the legacy of teaching that he was very proud of, and a heritage in which he was part.

When he would play, one was drawn to him. He is tone, his phrasing, and accuracy made him an artist of the top level. I loved going to his concert, and was lucky to be able to hear him play in my lessons. You couldn't help but want to do your best.

I miss him so much, and like Emil reminise over many wonderful times. He will never be forgotten.

April 14, 2004 at 04:24 PM · Another Friedman lesson story in which, again, I don't recall the piece in question. Sibelius concerto, perhaps? Whatever it was, I was playing entirely too agressively, crunching the sound and bashing the bejeezus out of the fiddle.

"You know," Friedman said, "if you're writing a novel and you write '...and then she stabbed him seventeen times!', you just write the words and let their content convey violence. There's no need to write," and here he imitated a crazed, homicidal maniac attacking the typewriter with ever-increasing violence "'...and then she stabbed HIM SEVENTEEN TIMES!'" all the while pretending to jab at the imaginary typewriter like som literary Jack the Ripper. "Let the music be as violent as you like," he concluded when I'd stopped laughing at his theatrics, "but don't let it make your actual motions violent or uncontrolled."

April 14, 2004 at 09:54 PM · Oh, Emil, wasn't he wonderful with the way he would describe what was wrong. For me he liked to use food imagry....

He asked "what foods do you like" and it turns out it was the same he liked: chocolate ice cream and oreo cookies. "Okay, what food don't you like" which was canned string beans (he didn't like brussel sprouts). So he said, "You come to the most gorgeous music, sumptuous, rich. It's wonderful, like eating rich chocolate ice cream with fudge" and he then would imitate really enjoying the sunday he made. "Then", he said," this is you - you come in and through a bunch of canned string beans on top. Do you like that?" Well, of course not, and we'd be laughing, as he would say "that's you, that's how that sounded. Now let's try again".

He was so good with the images. More Emil, .....

April 15, 2004 at 02:53 AM · Ok, here's another. How Erick Friedman developed my four string saltato (yes, I think it WAS the Sibelius) in the course of one fifteen minute segment of a lesson.

There I was, working up a storm while the bow was resolutely refusing to jump from string to string. Noticing that I was working awfully hard to little or no effect, Friedman stopped me.

"Ok," he said. "You're dribbling a basketball. Right? Show me."

So I dribbled an air ball.

"Right. And notice," he went on, "that you're not doing this." At which point he imitated dribbling a ball by giving it a downward push and by attempting to give it an upward push on the way up from the floor. "Why give two impulses, after all, when the basketball will bounce up by itself. Now, let's imagine that the basketball - a sphere - has had its ends lopped off. You now have a cylinder, right? But can you visualize how it would bounce? Just the same, right? Right. Now, if we make two foci through the cylinder and then stretch the cylinder, what do we get? Something like a very elongated oval. Something, in fact, rather like a bow. Now, dribble the bow like you would the sphere-made-into-a-cylinder you were originally dribbling."

And there I stood as, to my amazement, the bow began to blithely hop across four strings, given a sufficient downard dribble.

On a footnote, it was only years later that I realized this analogy works in both directions. That is to say, I could dribble the imaginary basketball with the back of my hand, upward towards the ceiling. Thus, instead of giving a big downward push and trying to get eight resulting saltato notes (four down and then four up), I could give a push on the UPBOW, which is where the saltato was weakest, and trust momentum to bring off the downbow saltato as the tailend of my initial impulse.

April 15, 2004 at 08:39 AM · Wasn't he amazing, Emil. I remember that too! He was really good about the bow (everything in fact).

Okay, my last on faces. I was playing, unconscious really of how I looked, when he stopped me. "you know, did I tell you about the time I played for Heifetz and he didn't like the faces I made. " I hadn't heard, but he used to make faces, unaware of doing so when he played particularly empassioned music. Heifetz didn't like the appearance, and so while Erick was playing, he walked to his jacket and removed a folded up piece of paper. On the paper was the picture of a lady with a stone face in the background as a gypsy fiddler who was working his head off, visiably showing it , was playing violin in the foreground. The picture was from a vodka ad. Heifetz, in his way, showed the picture to him and said "she's not moved"! So as he put it to me, Make the emotion with your playing, not your face!

Oh, Emil, he was so special. It time for someone else ---- and Emil you have so many wonderful stories. Was he in Leigh when you studied with him? Did he have all the pictures on the wall, including the one with Mohammad Ali? I loved his way of teaching, and would write each one of his stories down after my lesson. They were so important to me; I didn't want to forget one word, though I must admit he would talk so fast it was hard sometimes to catch it all.

April 15, 2004 at 10:34 AM · Greetings,

I really appreciate you guys sharing these stories here. Shows how worthwhile and important has become for so many people,



April 15, 2004 at 11:28 PM · No, he was at the College Park building, and since I studied with him while Harth was on sabbatical, it was in Harth's studio. Which, if I recall correctly, didn't have any photos on the walls.

I'm smiling now as I remember sitting in Naples Pizza with Friedman after a lesson, and talking about this and that. Naturally, we were both people-watching as we talked - and I was probably chain smoking. Any time some lovely young lady strolled by and I happened to catch Friedman's eye, I can still see him conspiratorially waggling his eyebrows at me. In the all-too-little time I knew him, I never recall him losing this sort of youthful streak, the joie de vivre that came across not just in his recordings but in his conversations. For all his age and experience, Friedman seemed truly blessed to be forever young.

I do miss him.

April 16, 2004 at 04:20 AM · So much has been said about Erick Friedman already and I have been meaning to post my thoughts for a while now. Being his student for a few years throughout high school up until a couple weeks ago (my last lesson with him being on the 22nd of March) he showed great courage and devotion to all of his students.

He was great as you well already know from Jen and Emil in making analogies that were funny and right on the money. One of the most entertaining analogies came at one of my first lessons with him. I was playing through a section of the Chausson Poeme and over indulged myself in this one note by over vibrating it, he stopped me and said, "You know Nate, when I hear that coming from a violinist or an opera singer I can picture an old gentleman with a receding hairline trying to cover up his bald spot by combing his eyebrows over it....he might think that no one notices this but we all do! just like when you try to hide the notes you are playing with your vibrato".

July 10, 2004 at 04:00 AM · I'm new to the board. I met Erick Friendmanback in 90 when he played the Mendellsohn Concerto with the Green Bay symphony. He had magnificent bow management and seemed to utilize the bow in subtle ways to control the gradations of volume. His vibrato was absolutely huge yet seemed effortlessly activated. I believe he was absolutely correct in his observation that what is ideal mechanically for one violinist may be prohibitive in another. I had the chance to talk to him at a rehearsal and he was very down to earth and willing to talk. We discussed the debate about using shoulder pads and whether they smother the tone if you you a clamp type shoulder pad. Basically he told me you should use a pad if you are more comfortable with it, especially if you had a long neck as he did. A very imposing figure physically, long and wirey,broad shoulders,large hands, Heifetz's influence was very apparent. He was able to achieve an evenness in fast runs that made every note ring loud and clear. Just an amazing talent. Wasn't he generally regarded as the only living american protege of Heifetz? God bless you Erick!

July 23, 2004 at 02:40 AM · Hi Trace,

Erick Friedman died on March 30 2004 of cancer. Was he still teaching on the 22nd? Because I tried to schedulle a few more lessons with him and He was very tired and as far as I know not teaching at all in March?



July 30, 2004 at 03:52 PM · Erick Friedman was teaching right up to the end went home that weekend had a stroke from what I was told. A very good friend of mine studied with him for many years, knew him for 22yrs. I have to say this, Erick Friedman was not a very good teacher for exceptionally talented violinist, he was very envious of this friend of mine and went out of his way to ruin and prevent them from playing.Friedman lacked live art form, and in-securities prevented him from being a great teacher.

July 30, 2004 at 10:04 PM · If Friedman tried to ruin your very good friend and prevent his

actuations, but he still studied with him for many years, IMO your friend is gay, a masochistic or a fool.

August 5, 2004 at 04:03 PM · Actually my friend was a child from a very abusive backround, and did not know any better. also mr. Friedman took a very personal interest in this person gave them free lessons. To be honest my friend does not agree with me and was very close to Mr. Friedman up until the end,

They feel that people are more then one dimmentional.

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