Best recording of Bach

July 19, 2005 at 03:56 AM · Looking for opinions on best recordings of Bach's Solo Sonatas and Partitas. Any ideas?

Replies (100)

July 19, 2005 at 04:29 AM · Henryk Szeryng's is really good.

People also speak highly of Milstein's recording.

These two seem to be the standard/benchmark

July 19, 2005 at 04:30 AM · I prefer the 50's recording of Milstein. For me, it's an epic classic recording - very "Milstein". Although the tone is leaner and the notes "stuffier" than what many want to hear today, I still think that it's a sparkling and shimmering example of Bach.

July 19, 2005 at 04:31 AM · A trully incredible recording of Bach Partita no.2 is the live performance of Bronislaw Huberman.

July 19, 2005 at 04:34 AM · In addition to Milstein and Szeryng, I recommend Joseph Suk's recording.

July 19, 2005 at 07:50 AM · henryk szeryng,milstein...and hilary hahn

July 19, 2005 at 08:16 AM · Henryk Szeryng!!!

July 19, 2005 at 08:26 AM · What about Perlman?

The Grammophone guide seems to praise his recording as the best (not that its my absolute favorite). I also find that some violinist perform a certain piece withing these compositions bettet then others but than when you hear them in another section you prefer another performer. So really is there one performer whom is best in all these pieces?

For instance the Bach by Heifetz I find (oferall) just not so nice. But his presto from sonata number 1 I find just amazingly exciting. Especially since he's the only one doing the staccato's.

My overall favorite is Milsteins latest version and Hilary Hahns amazing rendition.

July 19, 2005 at 08:37 AM · Umm I still like Bach played from a period instrument, therefore Rachel Podger's is my fav. I don't recommand Menuhin's recording made back in the 70s/80s - like most people have commented on this site already: his bow arm destoryed him in his later years.

July 19, 2005 at 12:56 PM · Menuhin actually made the first complete recording of the solo Bach in the 30s. It is very good and Naxos Historical offers it. Szeryng is my favorite. However, with solo Bach, almost every recording by someone good has an important insight to offer.

July 19, 2005 at 01:08 PM · I think Szeryng is the best , he's such a refined, and noble player. Perlman plays them like they're showpieces imo;)

July 19, 2005 at 07:07 PM · Enescu

July 19, 2005 at 07:18 PM · Dear Clarissa,

I was wondering. Is there Menuhin Bach recording from the 70's 80's? I thought he only made two recordings of these works. I have both and the latest one is from 1957. So is there one more? Because in that case I just have to have it.

July 19, 2005 at 08:23 PM · SZEEERRYYYYNGGGGGGGGGGG FOREVER

July 19, 2005 at 08:32 PM · To Mr. Edgar Biervliet:

YES. Menuhin did record the sonatas/partitas in the 70's. I have them on LP. Don't belierve they've been issued in CD format.

July 19, 2005 at 08:48 PM · sorry about that.

Suck's rec. is fabulos. I couldn't believe my ears when I've first heard his Ciaccona.

Enescu has his own charm, even if we wouldn't agree with many of his intentions.

July 19, 2005 at 08:46 PM · I think Sandor Vegh's recording is definitely worth a listen.

July 19, 2005 at 09:30 PM · Heifetz....*grin*

No, actually a more standard version can be found in Ehnes' recording. Also beautifully done but perhaps not as "standard" or perhaps less "period" is Greumiux (sorry I'm sure the spelling is incorrect).

Preston

July 19, 2005 at 09:54 PM · 1. Szeryng

2. Mintz

3. Grumiaux

July 20, 2005 at 12:10 AM · Hi Edgar and Alan,

Yeah I think the 70s recording is available on CDs - I borrowed it from the library several times already...I may go and double check on the date later this week as I could have misquoted it.

July 20, 2005 at 03:29 AM · As every violinist knows, there's really no "one" recording that we all agree upon - not even wanting to bring up the discussion between 'authentic' and 'modern' recordings! However, there are so many fabulous recordings that bring out the different aspects of these beloved works in our repertoire that we should embrace them all for what each artist brings to them and build up a collection and knowledge of them all.

A new recording on the market is that of Garrett Fischbach. You can hear some selections at his website: www.garrettfischbach.com

It's definitely worth having in your collection and can be bought at CDBaby.com Enjoy!

July 20, 2005 at 03:50 AM · I find Milstein's very dissapointing. Szeryng's for me is much better... the tone, the entire perspective on Bach agrees with me.

July 20, 2005 at 06:27 AM · Aren't there like 100 threads with this exact same subject?

July 20, 2005 at 06:32 AM · And there are probably 1 million more about any given topic, it doesn't make talking about Bach any more/less interesting.

July 20, 2005 at 09:36 AM · I just bought Julia Fischer's Bach (www.juliafischer.com). I find her quite pleasing. Especially rythmically. With the cd's there comes a nice DVD with her playing two pieces during the recording session and a brief interview.

I think there should be a Bach DVD project launched. Just like Yoyo Ma did on cello. I'd love to have the complete works on DVD played by some wonderfull violinist (preferably Hilary Hahn).

July 20, 2005 at 04:08 PM · I definitely like Szerying's and Hahn's recordings! Other than that I've taken a liking to Dimitri Sitkovetsky's recording because he conveys a nice blend of the "romantic" and period styles (though still a tad on the romantic side). I highly recommend them!

July 20, 2005 at 04:25 PM · oh i forgot... whoever recommended Gerard Poulet was right. A very good Bach.

July 20, 2005 at 05:47 PM · Good call! Anything by Poulet is amazing. I especially remember my lesson with him on Beethoven sonatas. GORGEOUS!

Preston

July 20, 2005 at 05:50 PM · Haha so true, Nate.

July 20, 2005 at 07:27 PM · I've heard a lot of good players play Bach and so far the only one I don't "get" is Hahn's recording made when she was about 15 (and I even like some of the selections on that recording). I find something to appreciate and learn from in all the performances I've heard. I'd love to hear Grumiaux's and Oistrakh's recordings.

July 20, 2005 at 09:39 PM · I am in love with Hahn's Bach. Too bad she didn't record all of them. The Chaccone is great.

I also have Szeryng's and it's wonderful, as well. "The Art of Henryk Szeryng", a DVD, especially the second half of it, shows him playing a movement of the S&P and it's really terrific.

July 21, 2005 at 06:48 PM · Hi,

There are a million threads on this. Szeryng's and Milstein are classic older versions. Both are good though different.

I am glad that someone mentioned Poulet. It is spectacular, and probably the best modern version of the Bach as it compromises very well between playing on modern equipment with all of the knowledge brought by the period movement.

I would also mention Rachel Podger's spectacular recording on period instrument. It is a fantastic performance that is a must for anyone to listen to IMHO.

Cheers!

July 21, 2005 at 09:27 PM · Christian,

Have you had the opportunity to hear Poulet live? I've only heard him play in my lessons (never actually got to hear a concert) but he has the most amazing co-ordination between his hands and such a clean and silvery sparkle to his tone...I think that what makes his Bach so great.

Thanks for meantioning Podger; another fantastic recording.

Preston

July 22, 2005 at 04:25 AM · Agreed - Podger is extremely fine.

I also like Tetzlaff's recording very much. Great period-informed playing. Apparently he is re-recording all of them soon (or maybe in the process?). Looking forward to it.

B

July 22, 2005 at 05:49 AM · Milstein's recording on Capitol has always been #1 for me. But I do listen to others: Milstein on DG, Grumiaux, Perlman. Admittedly, Hahn's recording is growing on me. At first, I thought she played a little *too* slowly, and yet I find myself listening to her recording more and more often...

July 22, 2005 at 05:55 AM · For the 100th time, Elizabeth Walfisch. Now there's a woman!

July 22, 2005 at 06:16 AM · Ahhh....Walfisch! I like her 4 seasons with the Australian Brandenberg Orchestra very much - flawless!

July 22, 2005 at 09:11 AM · Milstein's by far.

May 14, 2006 at 08:58 PM · another surprise name : Conrad von der Goltz.

He is also really good in Bach.

May 14, 2006 at 09:32 PM · Milstein, 1975, especially the D minor.

If you're into Baroque, try Sergiu Luca. I hate his Chaconne but the rest of it is pretty good.

May 14, 2006 at 10:02 PM · How does one choose? I am lucky to have heard Milstein and Szeryng playing Bach, live (that is, the violinists were live, not Bach). Both were better than their recordings (which I love, along with a few others). But I have to say that the greatest solo Bach performance I have ever heard was the live performance by Milstein at age 80. His last concert in Chicago. He played Partita #2. The Chaccone was, well, not to be believed. It truly transcended the notes. It was like hearing the actual voice of the composer. It was stunning beyond words. It was as if there was no performer, just the music and the audience. It was like someone talking. I have never heard anything like it before or since.

But his recording's aren't too bad, either.

May 14, 2006 at 10:02 PM · How does one choose? I am lucky to have heard Milstein and Szeryng playing Bach, live (that is, the violinists were live, not Bach). Both were better than their recordings (which I love, along with a few others). But I have to say that the greatest solo Bach performance I have ever heard was the live performance by Milstein at age 80. His last concert in Chicago. He played Partita #2. The Chaccone was, well, not to be believed. It truly transcended the notes. It was like hearing the actual voice of the composer. It was stunning beyond words. It was as if there was no performer, just the music and the audience. It was like someone talking. I have never heard anything like it before or since.

But his recording's aren't too bad, either.

May 15, 2006 at 07:02 AM · Julia Fischer, they really nice, musical and stylish

May 15, 2006 at 07:20 AM · I think Ilya Gringolts saws out a lovely A-... I stumbled into a store a while ago and inexplicably paid money for something with his picture on it.

Turns out it's very good.

May 15, 2006 at 07:19 AM · To me, the Bach unaccompanied S/Ps are old school dance mixes.

When I hear them, I want to FEEL and SEE the dance steps being performed.

So far, I haven't heard a recording yet that I felt that I could dance to. That's not to say one doesn't exist, particularly in the period instrument category (Sergiu Luca?)

May 15, 2006 at 02:36 PM · I'm sorry but that's a pretty lame dance mix.

Obviously many are dances, but I couldn't see myself dancing to them.

May 15, 2006 at 04:25 PM · The funny thing is that I really do put on Bach wigs and dance to his music in my job!!!

Maybe that's why I'd much rather listen to and dance to Bach than to today's earsplitting atonal techno rave DJ mixes.

I call Bach the "original disco godfather". After all, didn't he have the big hair, dance beats, diva personality, and zillions of kids?

May 15, 2006 at 06:14 PM · Fair enough.

May 15, 2006 at 06:15 PM · Oh no, not again, not another "Best Bach" contest!

How about- "if you have 30 bucks, which Bach violin solo recordings you would buy?"

EOM

May 15, 2006 at 06:19 PM · I went to Rice and Sergui Luca had a Bach class there. He was always telling the students that Bach can basically be thought of either as Song or Dance and also for Religious or Secular. He definately has followers. I think Andre Manze has a recording out there that if you like Bach on period instruments, would be well worth checking out. I have his Bach Co. and Handel Sonatas and he's quite the musician. Lovely sound and interpretation. A real musician. I also enjoy listening to Hilary Hahn for new young interpreters of Bach, but my all time favorite has to be Szeryng. I also think Milstein is good. Arthur Shumsky has a fabulous recording of Bach but i don't know if it has been remastered on CD. I've heard Grumiaux is nice as well. If you can find Szeryings recording on Odyssey, his first recording, that is the most soulful of all his recordings. As much as I like his DG recordings (he recorded them twice with DG) they pale in comparison to the Odysey recording. I wish they remastered it on CD, actually I have no idea if they have, but I know someone who has it on LP.

May 15, 2006 at 06:40 PM · I'm going to buy Podger's and see what all the fuss is about.

May 15, 2006 at 06:47 PM · Grumiaux first, Szerying second (though someone said he was inebriated throughout?)

But I've also heard a wonderful Menuhin rendition - must be an early one?

Julia Fischer offers a 'free' C Major fugue on her website - it's intriguing how legato and sustained she plays it.

May 15, 2006 at 06:50 PM · Pieter, you do that and when you get it, listen to her E Major Partita first. It's magical, especially the rondo. The ornamentation is brilliant. Then you'll see what all the fuss is about.

-Laura

May 16, 2006 at 02:58 PM · Pieter,

you might try sampling selections on Amazon or somewhere first. I found the Podger in a used CD shop and it wasn't long after buying the first CD that I went back to get the second one before someone else snapped it up...but it might not be your cup of tea. I think it's great stuff.

May 17, 2006 at 05:09 PM · I bought Szerying, but I bought it because it was the cheapest I could find. I think I like Milstein's better.

Szerying plays rather coldly, I think, like he's not enjoying it. As a result, his Chaconne is fabulous because that seems to be the intended character, but his E major partita leaves something to be desired. Well, namely a little spirit. Which is exactly what I thought Milstein had in his recording.

Does this comport? Does anyone concur? Or am I confused?

May 17, 2006 at 06:11 PM · I think Szeryng represents the ideal for "romantic" Bach playing. We're pretty blessed to hear people doing quasi authentic representations like Podger or Ilya Gringolts as well. Personally, I like Ilya and Rachel Podger's E+ a lot. That, of all sonatas (in my opinion), does the best without modern bowing techniques and over coloration in the left hand.

To me, Bach is a total enigma and it might be a long time until I can say with any confidence what I think to be my favourite.

May 17, 2006 at 10:22 PM · "Bach is a total enigma."

AMEN!!!!!

May 17, 2006 at 11:15 PM · Greetings,

indeed the Chacconne is the original `Enigma Variations`. I still think it is worth giving what Van Dael does to these works careful attention. It certainly isn`t the way I woulkd want to play them, but listening to her does help to pulll one out of the grooves I think we tend to get a litlte stuck in by rleentlessly listening to Milstein, Szeryng et al no matter how wondrous they are,

Cheers,

Buri

May 18, 2006 at 03:21 AM · Yeah I got Podger's recording. She's totally fantastic, what amazing playing. Bach just got more confusing.

Buri, someone else recommended Van Dael or something like that to me.

May 18, 2006 at 05:01 AM · Greetings,

there you go. two recommendations can`t be bad. let`s me off the hook when you get mad about wasting your money too...

Cheers,

Buri

May 18, 2006 at 06:40 AM · My favorites used to be Milstein and I really liked the old Menhuin recording. I just got Christian Tetzlaff's new recording and I haven't heard anybody talking about it but I think it's one of the best. He does some different things but plays everything great. I read an interview and he said since he's started playing all six in one program in a single night they have become "bread and butter" for him so he can do exactly what he wants with every single movement and all six as a whole and that's why he re-recorded them.

May 18, 2006 at 09:16 AM · Every violinist should hear Eduardo Fernandez play BWV 1006a (E major Lute Suite).

May 18, 2006 at 10:26 AM · Has anyone heard the Kremer ECM recording?

Sander: I've had similarly sublime experience at a all-Mozart recital given by Paul Badura-Skoda at the age of 79. I couldn't find the right words to describe my experience until I saw what you said. Thanks.

May 19, 2006 at 01:44 AM · Sandor Vegh and Hillary Hahn

November 16, 2006 at 07:27 PM · Susanna Yoko Henkel

She just recently released her Bach (I think 09/2006) - and it is amazing. I have all the big names at home, but what this young lady did is unbelievable. Never heard a recording so fresh and natural. From before I like Grumiaux. Completely different, but I like it. But my new absolute favorite: Susanna Yoko Henkel.

November 16, 2006 at 09:25 PM · Although i havent heard too many recordings of the S+P's my favourite (for the D minor at least) is by Baiba Skride. I can't say why, it was the first recording i heard and just always have connected with it better than any others.

November 16, 2006 at 09:53 PM · Scott Slapin :)

Although, I also have Hahn's which I also enjoy greatly and must get a few of the others mentioned above.

Neil

November 16, 2006 at 10:28 PM · "I find Milstein's very dissapointing. Szeryng's for me is much better... the tone, the entire perspective on Bach agrees with me."

I agree with Pieter's comment. I also like the recordings of Julia Fischer, Rachel Podger, Hillary Hahn.

That's a great thing about Bach -- to hear how many ways satisfying performances can be delivered.

November 16, 2006 at 11:57 PM · wow, reading what I wrote in May makes me realize how things change.

November 17, 2006 at 06:00 AM · Grumiaux gets my vote any day, any time.

November 17, 2006 at 03:28 PM · I heard Christian Tetzlaff play all six of the solo violin works at a concert in Alice Tully Hall in New York. I was spellbound. I see from amazon.com that he has now recorded these works, but haven't heard it.

November 17, 2006 at 04:15 PM · Grumiaux has to be my favorite; Milstein a close second.

Did anyone else find Christian Tetzlaff's excessively fast tempos in some movements of his recording of the Sonatas and Partitas repulsive?

November 17, 2006 at 08:02 PM · I have always enjoyed Milstein's Bach the most(both early and late recordings). I think he has the right temperament, refined technique and such great imagination.

Although 'out-of-vogue' nowadays, Heifetz's Bach offers an interesting (albeit highly personalised) insight. Whether one cares for his interpretations or not, instrumentally they are extraordinary. The intensity that he could achieve in the G minor fugue, for example, is without peer.

The Grumiaux and Szeryng recordings are wonderful too.

Tom Leate

November 17, 2006 at 10:48 PM · Thomas: I wrote the following on another discussion thread. Not that it is the last word on the subject, but...take a look. Cordially, Sandy

------------

Poor old Jascha; he always gets slammed for his Bach. But Heifetz was meticulous in his preparation and entirely faithful (within his aesthetic world) to the score. I've always thought that it was less his "ego" and need to show off that drove the man than his artistic vision of how the music should sound. If that vision is not in keeping with current knowledge and preferences, that does not make his Bach any the less a valid musical performance. Don't forget, Heifetz comes out of the era when there had been a hundred year tradition of taking all kinds of liberties with the music. By comparison to his era, Heifetz was a meticulous classisist. And, lest we forget, there are lots of people today who are thrilled by his Bach. It's funny, but we all say that Bach can be played a thousand different ways and transcribed for a thousand different instruments and instrumental combinations. Yet when it comes to Heifetz, we apply the most rigid musical guidelines, as if he is not entitled to the same leeway we give to everyone else. So maybe he plays Bach like he plays Tchaikovsky - so what. We have no trouble hearing Hubermann and Enescu and Menuhin and Joachim and Elman and Sarasate in their historical context. Why can't we listen to and appreciate Heifetz the same way?

Sandy

November 18, 2006 at 06:34 AM · Szeryng all the way! And Rachel Barton Pine's period rendition (authentic, unaltered Gagliano violin) is quite interesting and can tell you a lot if you are working on the Bach sonatas/partitas yourself.

Anyone know if Shumsky has a Bach recording?

November 18, 2006 at 11:57 AM · Eric,

Is that the Gagliano that's presently at Landon's shop in NY? He let me try and it's absolutely gorgeous...

IG

November 18, 2006 at 06:43 PM · Shumsky did do a recording of the Bach. I have it from Musical Heritage Soc. To me it feels pedestrian.

November 19, 2006 at 08:49 AM · Sander,

I actually have quite a bit of trouble hearing those players in their historical context. Very bad recording quality back then...HA

Sorry... back to what I was going to ask. Has anybody heard the recording of Sarasate playing Partita 3 Preludio? It surpasses what Ilya called amusing and actually makes me laugh out loud. Interesting that on the same CD there is a very tasteful recording of Bach G min Adagio and B min Bourree by Joachim made in the same year.

Bill- I never thought I would see Tetzlaff's name and the word repulsive on the same page, much less in the same sentence describing and his playing. I haven't heard his old recording of Bach, but his new one is my favorite one that is done on all modern equipment. I have still never seen him live though and am looking forward to it.

November 19, 2006 at 10:11 AM · You can hear snippets of the Bourreé, Adagio & Preludio played by Joachim and Sarasate here. I heared this CD recently, some Ysaÿe - recordings on it as well.

Maybe Sarasate just lost a bet to play it like this...

But the Zehetmair-recording shouldn't be forgotten - beautiful Chaconne.

November 19, 2006 at 12:12 PM · Hi, Brian: Thanks for your comments. Yes, I've heard the famous Bach Preludio with Sarasate (I believe it is also recorded at the wrong speed), and it is indeed (shall we say) eccentric, by anyone's standards. Either Sarasate had ADD, or he forgot to take his medication that morning.

:) Sandy

November 19, 2006 at 02:46 PM · A little tangential here, but my wife and I were watching a Sherlock Holmes episode from the 80s (BBC Granada production w/ Jeremy Brett) called "The Red Headed League". In this episode Holmes and Watson attend a recital by Sarasate, and he actually plays that Preludio!

Unlike the usual bad faking though, this violinist really looked like he knew what he was doing, so we stayed for the credits: Bruce Dukov, a studio guy now in LA. So we emailed him, and he right away responded saying that the producers had given him the Sarasate recording and told him to play it just like that! And he did; very impressive, especially considering he didn't have the benefit of a sped-up tape.

November 20, 2006 at 09:48 PM · There is a live recording (from the Casals festival in Prades, 1955) by Menuhin of sonatas in A minor, C major and partita in D minor, within a 12 Cds box of unissued live performances by artists such as Casals, Serkin, Horszowski, L and J Fuchs, Ferras (Kreutzer sonata with Kempff!!)..Published by Music & arts last month. According to Menuhin, Casals told him (and tried to demonstrate)that Bach was influenced by gypsies!!

November 20, 2006 at 10:08 PM · Hi,

About the above... Sarasate's Preludio is the result of a recording error which caused it to be recorded, or rather transfered at the wrong speed.

Cheers!

November 20, 2006 at 10:19 PM · I don't know the exact speeds involved, but it seems to me that even if the speed of the Sarasate were to be adjusted, it might still sound more like Moto Perpetuo than Preludio.

Bach was influenced by gypsies? I guess that explains the Mass in B Minor. (It might also explain why he had 20 children. Are we sure there were only 2 wives?). Maybe we ought to rename some of his most famous works, such as the Czardaccone.

Sandy

November 20, 2006 at 10:19 PM · Actually, I just read in Arnold Steinhardt's new book "Violin Dreams" (very enjoyable read btw, I'd recommend it) about how he played the G minor Adagio in a Bach master class for Casals. After complimenting him on his excellent playing, Casals told him a little story about a time when he was in Budapest with his trio. A certain restaurant had been recommended to them--not for the food, but because an amazing gypsy violinist played in the house band. As soon as they walked in, the gypsy recognized them and stopped playing his csardas, walked over to Casals, bowed deeply, and proceeded to play the G minor Adagio. Casals said that the gypsy, being completely unburdened by the conventions, pressures and expectations of classical training, gave a wonderfully free, spontaneous, improvisatory and heartfelt performance that Casals thought was the best Bach he'd ever heard. :)

November 20, 2006 at 11:13 PM · Maura, that's a great story. It doesn't prove that Bach was influenced by gypsies, but it does prove that Bach's appeal is universal.

If you've never heard it, there is a recorded version of Busoni playing his own piano transcription of the Chaccone. It is overpowering - not just the playing, but the arrangement. It's hard to kill Bach if your heart is in the right place.

Sandy

November 20, 2006 at 11:28 PM · I think I heard that recording on the radio the other day--if it wasn't actually Busoni playing, it was certainly his transcription. What a fantastic transcription it is! You'd swear it was originally written for the piano!

November 21, 2006 at 01:55 AM · Sarasate's Bach may not have been his best, but I enjoyed his playing of his own compositions.

And his A was 440 on the money, at least on my CD. This is in direct contrast to Henry Roth's comments in Strad magazine from years ago.

It seems so many A's are 443 and above on CD's these days. Are orchestras really tuning that high?

Anyway, I really love Sarasate's playing, generally.

November 21, 2006 at 02:18 AM · Greetings,

yes, and higher. In Japan the standard is a442 which of course wanders ever on and upwards. I am not sure but I think the Vienna orchestras may set the upward trend a while back, higher than 442.

Cheers,

Buri

November 21, 2006 at 03:51 AM · 443? Ouch!

November 21, 2006 at 04:17 AM · Greetings,

yes. I had to play with apiano tuned up ther elast week. It wa s painful. Even more painful than usual..

I think I am juat going to tune to 441 and pracitce my microtones.

Cheers,

Buri

November 21, 2006 at 01:52 PM · Glad I do not have absolute pitch. It would be torture.

November 21, 2006 at 02:34 PM · According to one of his biographies (I forget which), Paganini was so sensitive to pitch that when there were things played out of tune by the orchestra he would almost get physically ill.

Sandy

November 21, 2006 at 07:49 PM · yet another example of how a harmless anecdote or small tidbit can be blown out of proportion into what we now have as this Paganini myth.

If that was really the case, then he must have had a horrible life because out of tune notes happen no matter how good the artist or orchestra.

November 21, 2006 at 08:12 PM · You think that's the worst Paganini myth? I heard the mother of all Pag legends recently--that his magic-sounding E string was made from the gut of his mistress, whom he of course murdered. (?!?!?)

November 21, 2006 at 08:15 PM · Maura - did you get that legend from some Hungarian Roma?

November 21, 2006 at 08:43 PM · Christian reviewed murdered mistress gut E strings a while back. It's in the archives.

November 21, 2006 at 09:14 PM · No, I read it in a book about Liszt. :) The only things the Hungarian Roma have ever taught me are some really great tunes. :)

November 21, 2006 at 09:32 PM · Maura - I just read a very good history of Hungary written by a friend which might interest you: "The Will to Survive" by Bryan Cartledge.

November 21, 2006 at 09:44 PM · Hey, guys, the Paganini story came from a biography I read years ago, and I'm sorry to say I don't know which one. We do know today that some people are affected physically by music. Backwards historical diagnosis being the totally unreliable process that it is, it is still reasonable to assume that a physically sick and highly sensitive person with Paganini's musical gifts probably had some physical reactions to music. Whether they were at the level of becoming ill just by being in the proximity of out-of-tune notes is, of course, another story altogether. I hope I didn't present it as proven fact.

And as far as a "harmless anecdote and small tidbit" being "blown out of proportion into what we now have as this Paganini myth," I had no idea this would create such a stir. If you will look dispassionately at this website, you will see a jillion "harmless anecdotes" and "small tidbits" being blown out of proportion, and most of them aren't about Paganini.

Which raises a truly interesting series of questions: How do we know that an anecdote is true? And if it is true, how do we know that it provides any real insight into the person and his or her art? Maybe it's just one of those things that does not at all give any insight into anything.

Anyway, still a most interesting discussion, everyone.

Cordially, Sandy

November 21, 2006 at 10:32 PM · Tom,

Thanks (or as we say, köszönöm), I'll take a look at it. If you're into Hungary as well, "The Lawful Revolution" by István Deák is a good book about the 1848 revolution.

sorry for the off-topic! As for Paganini anecdotes, let's keep 'em coming...

Edit: D'oh! Or not! This must be something like the tenth thread I've inadvertantly killed. Sorry!

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Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

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Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine

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