Toscha Seidel

September 30, 2005 at 04:48 AM · I am a great fan of the unjustly (almost) forgotten violinist Toscha Seidel. Every now and again something pops up here and there about him and there 2 or 3 commercial CD's out there but there is no website or a dedidcated book about him(that i know of). I am planning on putting up a website about the guy. obviously I know the readily available facts about him but would appreciate if people would write to me with any info about him that they may have. i am particularly keen to speak to his students or members of his family should those actually exist. So please do not hesitate to write to me whether it be a question about Toscha or information on the aforementioned. cheers! Dima

Replies (76)

September 30, 2005 at 03:09 PM · I think he was in auer's class the same time as shumsky, I think I remember reading they played the bach double togather at a realy young age, thats about all I know, never heard the recordings - YET



September 30, 2005 at 04:55 PM · I have one recording (I think it's Biddulph) of the Brahms Sonata #1 and the Grieg sonata (I think #3, the one that's always played). Luscious tone; wonderful performances. Seidel was indeed something else. He's got that Auer/Heifetz/Elman/etc. stamp on his playing. However, I know nothing about his biography.

September 30, 2005 at 07:17 PM · here is an article i found on

quite interesting i think.

In Conversation With: Toscha Seidel




from VIOLIN MASTERY by Frederick Martens

Toscha Seidel, though one of the more recent of the young Russian violinists who represent the fruition of Professor Auer's formative gifts, has, to quote H.F. Peyser, "the transcendental technic observed in the greatest pupils of his master, a command of mechanism which makes the rough places so plain that the traces of their roughness are hidden to the unpracticed eye." He commenced to study the violin seriously at the age of seven in Odessa, his natal town, with Max Fiedemann, an Auer pupil. A year and a half later Alexander Fiedemann heard him play a De Bériot concerto in public, and induced him to study at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin, with Brodsky, a pupil of Joachim, with whom he remained for two years.

It was in Berlin that the young violinist reached the turning point of his career. "I was a boy of twelve," he said, "when I heard Jascha Heifetz play for the first time. He played the Tschaikovsky concerto, and he played it wonderfully. His bowing, his fingering, his whole style and manner of playing so greatly impressed me that I felt I must have his teacher, that I would never be content unless I studied with Professor Auer! In 1912 I at length had an opportunity to play for the Professor in his home at Loschivitz, in Dresden, and to my great joy he at once accepted me as a pupil.


"Studying with Professor Auer was a revelation. I had private lessons from him, and at the same time attended the classes at the Petrograd Conservatory. I should say that his great specialty, if one can use the word specialty in the case of so universal a master of teaching as the Professor, was bowing. In all violin playing the left hand, the finger hand, might be compared to a perfectly adjusted technical machine, one that needs to be kept well oiled to function properly. The right hand, the bow hand, is the direct opposite—it is the painter hand, the artist hand, its phrasing outlines the pictures of music; its nuances fill them with beauty of color. And while the Professor insisted as a matter of course on the absolute development of finger mechanics, he was an inspiration as regards the right manipulation of the bow, and its use as a medium of interpretation. And he made his pupils think. Often, when I played a passage in a concerto or sonata and it lacked clearness, he would ask me: 'Why is this passage not clear?' Sometimes I knew and sometimes I did not. But not until he was satisfied that I could not myself answer the question, would he show me how to answer it. He could make every least detail clear, illustrating it on his own violin; but if the pupil could 'work out his own salvation' he always encouraged him to do so.

"Most teachers make bowing a very complicated affair, adding to its difficulties. But Professor Auer develops a natural bowing, with an absolutely free wrist, in all his pupils; for he teaches each student along the line of his individual aptitudes. Hence the length of the fingers and the size of the hand make no difference, because in the case of each pupil they are treated as separate problems, capable of an individual solution. I have known of pupils who came to him with an absolutely stiff wrist; and yet he taught them to overcome it.


"As regards difficulties, technical and other, a distinction might be made between the artist and the average amateur. The latter does not make the violin his life work: it is an incidental. While he may reasonably content himself with playing well, the artist-pupil must achieve perfection. It is the difference between an accomplishment and an art. The amateur plays more or less for the sake of playing—the 'how' is secondary; but for the artist the 'how' comes first, and for him the shortest piece, a single scale, has difficulties of which the amateur is quite ignorant. And everything is difficult in its perfected sense. What I, as a student, found to be most difficult were double harmonics—I still consider them to be the most difficult thing in the whole range of violin technic. First of all, they call for a large hand, because of the wide stretches. But harmonics were one of the things I had to master before Professor Auer would allow me to appear in public. Some find tenths and octaves their stumbling block, but I cannot say that they ever gave me much trouble. After all, the main thing with any difficulty is to surmount it, and just how is really a secondary matter. I know Professor Auer used to say: 'Play with your feet if you must, but make the violin sound!' With tenths, octaves, sixths, with any technical frills, the main thing is to bring them out clearly and convincingly. And, rightly or wrongly, one must remember that when something does not sound out convincingly on the violin, it is not the fault of the weather, or the strings or rosin or anything else—it is always the artist's own fault!


"Scale study—all Auer pupils had to practice scales every day, scales in all the intervals—is a most important thing. And following his idea of stimulating the pupil's self-development, the Professor encouraged us to find what we needed ourselves. I remember that once—we were standing in a corridor of the Conservatory—when I asked him, 'What should I practice in the way of studies?' he answered: 'Take the difficult passages from the great concertos. You cannot improve on them, for they are as good, if not better, as any studies written.' As regards technical work we were also encouraged to think out our own exercises. And this I still do. When I feel that my thirds and sixths need attention I practice scales and original figurations in these intervals. But genuine, resultful practice is something that should never be counted by 'hours.' Sometimes I do not touch my violin all day long; and one hour with head work is worth any number of days without it. At the most I never practice more than three hours a day. And when my thoughts are fixed on other things it would be time lost to try to practice seriously. Without technical control a violinist could not be a great artist; for he could not express himself. Yet a great artist can give even a technical study, say a Rode étude, a quality all its own in playing it. That technic, however, is a means, not an end, Professor Auer never allowed his pupils to forget. He is a wonderful master of interpretation. I studied the great concertos with him—Beethoven, Bruch, Mendelssohn, Tschaikovsky, Dvoøák, the Brahms concerto (which I prefer to any other); the Vieuxtemps Fifth and Lalo (both of which I have heard Ysaye, that supreme artist who possesses all that an artist should have, play in Berlin); the Elgar concerto (a fine work which I once heard Kreisler, an artist as great as he is modest, play wonderfully in Petrograd), as well as other concertos of the standard repertory. And Professor Auer always sought to have us play as individuals; and while he never allowed us to overstep the boundaries of the musically esthetic, he gave our individuality free play within its limits. He never insisted on a pupil accepting his own nuances of interpretation because they were his. I know that when playing for him, if I came to a passage which demanded an especially beautiful legato rendering, he would say: 'Now show how you can sing!' The exquisite legato he taught was all a matter of perfect bowing, and as he often said: 'There must be no such thing as strings or hair in the pupil's consciousness. One must not play violin, one must sing violin!'


"I do not see how any artist can use an instrument which is quite new to him in concert. I never play any but my own Guadagnini, which is a fine fiddle, with a big, sonorous tone. As to wire strings, I hate them! In the first place, a wire E sounds distinctly different to the artist than does a gut E. And it is a difference which any violinist will notice. Then, too, the wire E is so thin that the fingers have nothing to take hold of, to touch firmly. And to me the metallic vibrations, especially on the open strings, are most disagreeable. Of course, from a purely practical standpoint there is much to be said for the wire E.


"What is violin mastery as I understand it? First of all it means talent, secondly technic, and in the third place, tone. And then one must be musical in an all-embracing sense to attain it. One must have musical breadth and understanding in general, and not only in a narrowly violinistic sense. And, finally, the good God must give the artist who aspires to be a master good hands, and direct him to a good teacher!"

September 30, 2005 at 09:51 PM · Thanks Dima for getting such a great deserving artists noticed again.

I know Paul Schure very well, who used to be the concertmaster of Fox Studios in Hollywood. He has great stories about Toscha. Paul was a good friend of Jasha's and Toscha's.

Paul S. was also the second violinist of the Hollywood Bowl String Quartet.

He says that when Toscha and Jasha Heifetz were kids studying with Prof. Auer, they shared many concerts together and they were sometimes billed as the "angel" and the "devil" (Toscha being the devil). Jascha Heifetz, already in Auer’s class, had been dubbed the "Angel of the violin" but Toscha Seidel was soon to be called "Devil of the Violin" due to his intensely vibrant sound and impassioned style – ideal for the world of film music. Seidel had studied with Max Fiedelmann before joining Leopold Auer’s violin class at the St Petersburg Conservatory.

Toscha's sound was very similar to that of Heifetz, and in fact there are many old Hollywood classics for which he was the soloist.

Toscha Seidel was born in Odessa in 1899. He settled in California in the 1930s and made his career in Hollywood. He led the MGM studio orchestra for many years and featured in the soundtrack for the Ingrid Bergman and Leslie Howard film, Intermezzo. Provost’s Intermezzo (one of those tunes we all know but cannot put a name to) was the film’s title track.

This was one of the truly great violinists of the early part of 20th century.

October 1, 2005 at 09:09 AM · Gennady! thanx for the post. that could be absolutely amazing if we could hear some of those stories of Paul Schure.

Just one little one of the top of my head.

It must have been some time in the late 30's or early 40's when Heifetz came to record something with a session orchestra as a soloist in LA. In the break he noticed that one of the guys from the section is actually his old friend and an ex arch rival Toscha!

I find this story so sad.

It would be great to get hold of some one who knew him personally and would be willing to shed light upon his later life.

anyhow... i am off to play a recital god knows where...cheers

October 1, 2005 at 02:03 PM · What an incredible persona Seidel conveys through his playing. The sweetness of sentiment he expresses seems to me unrivaled. My favorite Seidel recordings are: Brahmsiana by Bakaleinikoff, Wagner-Albumblatt, Provost-Intermezzo and Mozart-Minuet in D. These were originally recorded in the 1940s as 78 rpm records for RCA Victor. All of these have been unavailable on CD for a while. I wrote to Biddulph and asked them to re-issue this marvelous CD, which includes other short pieces, in addition to the above mentioned, and the Franck Sonata. I'm pleased to report that Biddulph did re-issue it recently.

October 2, 2005 at 11:56 PM · Dear Oliver,

I could not agree more. that CD with the Bakaleinikoff, Wagner, Franck etc is indeed gorgeous. I am sure you have heard the other Biddulph CD with Seidel with the two Brahms sonatas and Grieg c-minor. That CD still serves me as inspiration when I feel low on incentive. I particularly love the second Brahms sonata on that CD I think it is perhaps the best recording of the work alltogether. But unfortunatelly not everything is equally good. the Frank sonata on the CD you mentioned somehow failed my expectations. I am none the less a fan of the guy. thanks for the info! best wishes. D

October 3, 2005 at 12:21 AM · Dear Dmitri,

I love the Brahms Sonatas CD as well. I should mention to all my fellow Seidel fans that there is a DVD now available of a movie in which Seidel plays Brahmsiana on the sound track and is seen performing as well. After many years of listening to his recordings, I was thrilled to be able to see him play for the first time, when I bought this DVD. He appears only briefly, but it's great to be able to see him play. The movie is called: "Melody for Three".

October 4, 2005 at 04:21 PM · A relative was active in the Hollywood music business in the 40`s and 50`s.About 30 years ago, I asked him about Seidel,and his later life. He just said it was tragic and didn`t want to go into details.

October 5, 2005 at 01:01 AM · I am thankful to you for your attempt. Well I guess he has the right not to say if he does not feel like speaking. That is a pity though for however tragic it might have been it is really important to shed light upon his life as he remains an important violinist of his age and deserves wider recognition. Dima

October 7, 2005 at 07:51 AM · I think there is also some more info out there - I have read something about Toscha being desperate to study with Auer after he heard Jascha perform the Tchaik in St P. At that time, Jewish families whose sons were enrolled in the Conservatoire were given civil privileges that other Jews didn't have - so Jewish mothers put a violin under their sons' chins as soon as they could walk! It helps to explain the number of great Russian-Jewish violinists of the time.

October 7, 2005 at 08:40 AM · Also Dmitri - have you seen Herbert Axlerod's unauthorised Heifetz biography of the 70s - this could be a very good source of info, there are definitely photos at least of Toscha. PM if not as we had a copy, I may be able to get hold of it and scan them.

October 7, 2005 at 09:51 AM · Dear Jim,

Yes I do have the axelrod's book. Tnanks for mentioning it though as it is one of the more informative books with Seidel coming up a number of times. Alas no information on his later life.


October 7, 2005 at 05:28 PM · Some tidbits I found online:

1899 Birth of Russian violinist Toscha SEIDEL in Odessa.

In an article regarding the exhibition Brought to Light: The Storied Collections of the Judah L. Magnes Museum (Berkeley, CA):

In 1934, while a professor at Princeton University, [Albert] Einstein befriended the famed Russian violinist Toscha Seidel. Einstein gave Seidel [a] sketch in exchange for pointers on playing the violin, according to Seidel family legend. The Judah L. Magnes Museum obtained the drawing in the 1970s from Seidel’s widow. It has never been shown. The exhibit will also display a program for a benefit concert for German Jewish refugees that featured Einstein and Seidel.

From The Daily Online Californian:

When the Magnes obtained a drawing Albert Einstein made for the violinist Toscha Seidel, it was shown to several physicists, who could not figure out what it was. Cathryn Carson, director of the Office for History of Science and Technology at UC Berkeley, solved the mystery, determining that the drawing represented length contraction in Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

His violin:

A young performance venue:

A Maestronet discussion of Seidel:

Two soundtracks for movies in which he played:

"Intermezzo"- 1939 69 mins

"Escape to Happiness" - British title

Seidel who recorded the sound track Plays:-

Intermezzo (Provest)

"The Great Waltz" - 1938 107 mins

Vioin sound track recorded by Seidel

with Malitza Koyus

From a discussion of gut vs. steel strings:

It must be said that there were many

players who were critical of the steel e" string, stating that the

"wire string sounds distinctly different to the artist than does a

gut e"{Toscha Seidel}

While visiting Auer in Norway in 1916, [Heifitz] played in a joint concert with Toscha Seidel before the king and queen of Norway.

Papers of J.C. Williamson Ltd. has these papers:

'S' contracts and related correspondence:

Toscha Seidel, 1922

website is

November 18, 2005 at 12:27 PM · I understand that, after many bouts of mental illness, Seidel finished his working life playing in a Las Vegas show band. I would LOVE to find a recording of him playing his favourite concerto: the Brahms. But, alas, there are nearly as few Seidel recordings as there are of George Enescu.

April 6, 2006 at 09:16 AM · Hey Dima!

I'd like to know if you've made a website about Toscha Seidel...

It would be great!



January 16, 2008 at 08:19 PM · Quote by Gennady: "Toscha's sound was very similar to that of Heifetz, and in fact there are many old Hollywood classics for which he was the soloist.

Toscha Seidel was born in Odessa in 1899. He settled in California in the 1930s and made his career in Hollywood. He led the MGM studio orchestra for many years and featured in the soundtrack for the Ingrid Bergman and Leslie Howard film, Intermezzo. Provost’s Intermezzo (one of those tunes we all know but cannot put a name to) was the film’s title track."

I noticed that this has been made available on YouTube - played by both Heifetz and Seidel. I heard the Heifetz first and thought it unspeakably beautiful ... but then I heard the Seidel! Anyway, listen to them in any order you like:


Interesting how Heifetz misses out the Zigeunerweisen bit and the fake-Vieuxtemps 5 - and also gets the last chord out of tune, ha ha, while Seidel doesn't play one.

As a child my father would often say "Listen to the beautiful violin playing" during one of the old black-and-white films, and more often than not, at the credits at the end - "Ah, Toscha Seidel!"

There's a very good Campoli recording done by the same guy, BTW.

January 16, 2008 at 08:20 PM · Don't know what went wrong with the link - again:>Seidel

January 17, 2008 at 01:38 AM · Seidel--What an exquisite sound. It made me weep. And it breathes so much more than the Heifetz performance. Seidel's playing seems to embody everything I think a violin should sound like. Thank you for the link.

BTW--does anyone know where to get the music for the Provost Intermezzo?

January 17, 2008 at 04:22 AM · I believe Seidel and Heifetz were Auer students at the same time, so they would have gotten the same admonitions and technical substrate to SING THE VIOLIN!

Seems to have worked, apparently.

EDIT: Just saw the rest of the thread, which covered this, but can't delete this post.

January 17, 2008 at 03:39 PM · Jay, "Intermezzo" is included in the compilation volume "World's Favorite Intermediate Violin Pieces", by Ashley Mark, published by Ashley Publications.

I had a heck of a time trying to find it at, but try putting in "Intermediate Violin Pieces 92 World's Favorite" the search box.

January 17, 2008 at 09:03 PM · Re "the Angel and the Devil" quote, Heifetz's does sound quite 'chaste' - though it's probably unfair to compare them too much just on the basis of these two YouTube offerings (but we do it nevertheless).

Heifetz himself said that "child prodigism is a disease which is generally fatal":- look at Seidel, Hassid, Menuhin - Shumsky kept a low profile - these are all players who IMO would have given him serious competition had they lived up to their potential. Perhaps Jascha survived because he treated it like any other job and just downed tools after the last chord, returning to his game of bridge or whatever!

January 18, 2008 at 01:13 AM · I much preferred Seidel's performance of the Intermezzo to Heifetz's...

January 28, 2008 at 03:27 PM · Hi,

Toscha Seidel is featured in Arnold Steinhardt's book "Violin Dreams" as one of his influential teachers. Arnold Steinhardt's website contains a photo of Toscha Seidel and also a sound bite.

Information about Toscha Seidel's contribution to Hollywood film music is also to be found in the interesting and enjoyable book.

Bye, Jürgen

January 28, 2008 at 07:51 PM · J.L. Hemm wrote: "Arnold Steinhardt's website contains a photo of Toscha Seidel and also a sound bite."

I tried to locate the Seidel soundbite, but couldn't. Would you please tell how to find it on Mr. Steinhardt's web site?

Thank you.

January 29, 2008 at 02:54 AM · mr. steiner,

go to violin dreams


press the right arrow button several times until you get to seidel and press the listen button

January 29, 2008 at 05:10 AM · Willie M,

Thank you.

January 30, 2008 at 06:47 PM · As far as a concert solo career was concerned, Toscha Seidel was not that interested. He took the path that another Auer violinist took: Mischel Piastro, who became a founder of the old radio show the “Longines Symphonette”

When I was in my thirties, I often chatted with Ruth Ray who was a student in Leopold Auer’s violin classes in St. Petersberg. She is often seen in photographs with Seidel and other Auer students and Auer was quite fond of her.

In Hollywood during the heyday of the “American Musical” (1930s and 1940s)the movie industry was flooded with excellent European instrumentalists, composers and arrangers all of whom who were paid fantastic salaries for recording movie scores. Competition for these jobs was intense and movies and radio shows were being produced at a hectic pace.

Ruth Ray of Evanston, IL had periodic contacts with Toscha Seidel and often told me that Toscha was quite impatient with musical contractors and would sign with the first contractor who would guarantee ready money.

He was also uncomfortable with the formality of a solo career and did not adapt well to unfamiliar situations.

His teaching manner was quite direct and he said what he thought. Many of his students were used to his direct manner and if they persevered they benefitted greatly from the tonal techniques which he taught to them.

Ted Kruzich

January 31, 2008 at 02:54 PM · Ted Kruzich wrote: "they (Toscha Seidel's students) benefitted greatly from the tonal techniques which he taught to them."

Did Ms. Ray convey some of the details of these teachings? Of all the words about tone production, of all the violinists who ever lived, Toscha Seidel's words would be amongst those I would be most eager to read!

February 3, 2008 at 02:42 PM · Apparently from my conversations with Ruth Ray the topics which she chatted about with Toscha Seidel concerned the very general and basic

principles of violin playing.

She told me that Seidel would play a student's violin and bow before he would try to teach him anything. He then would know what was possible from the instrument. He then would demonstrate

the full use of the larger parts of the body: the whole left side, left shoulder, arm and hand. Then similarly whole right side, bowarm etc... '

In legato passages, the two sides would come together and then they would separate (like an accordion player). Definately a full

body approach. Lots of slow body motion and a bow pressure that had maximum contact with the string. She said his body was like a big Russian bear hugging and caressing the violin.

That is why Auer always chose Elman or Seidel when he wanted to show the class the maximum possibilities of expressive playing.

Seidel's dynamic level was always on the louder side and he would emphasize all the possible crescendos and decrescendos within a soft


Thats about all that I can remember concerning what Ruth Ray had to say about Toscha Seidel's violin playing.

Ted Kruzich

February 24, 2008 at 05:33 PM · I just aquired recordings of Toscha Seidel playing Traumerei (when he was 7 years old).

also, schubert serenade, and Eli Eli and Kreisler's caprice venois. It's really amazing stuff...if anyone is interested, just let me know and i can send you the recordings

February 24, 2008 at 08:16 PM · D Kurganov,

That sounds fascinating. Is there a web site at which you can post the recordings, so you won't need to send out numerous copies? Could you tell us more about them, and how you know that Seidel was seven years old when he made them? Are they transfers to LP or tape, or are they the original 78rpm records? Many thanks!

February 25, 2008 at 11:57 AM · 7? I am just a bit sceptical :)

February 25, 2008 at 02:30 PM · Jay Azneer wrote: "Seidel--What an exquisite sound. It made me weep.........Seidel's playing seems to embody everything I think a violin should sound like."

Amen to that! If only more of today's violin students could understand that violin as a competitive sport is the wrong reason to study the violin, but "It made me weep" is the right reason to study the violin!

Ted Kruzich: Thank you so much for sharing your recollections of Ms. Ray's words about Toscha Seidel. The picture she presents of Seidel "caressing the violin* correlates so well with the sounds he produced as he caressed it. The footage of Seidel perfoming, in the movie "Melody for Three", amply reenforces Ms. Ray's description of Seidel's playing and teaching precepts.

February 26, 2008 at 04:39 AM · matias, ill send you a picture of the record if you want. its 1906 :)

seidel was born in 1899 if im not mistaken. its quite amazing

im going to finish editing it and amybe ill post it somewhere after i compress it to mp3

February 26, 2008 at 07:50 AM · "If only more of today's violin students could understand that violin as a competitive sport is the wrong reason to study the violin, but "It made me weep" is the right reason to study the violin!"

That's because it's a lot easier to play at a decent competition level than it is to play in the way you describe. An average violinist can learn and practice to do the former. The latter is something you're born with.

I really want to hear more of Seidel's playing. I only have that one CD (which isn't at my apartment now), which I haven't heard in a few years. He's absolutely incredible.

February 26, 2008 at 11:51 AM · Kurganov (Jeff?)- Please do! That is 8 years before his debut :)

(Do you mean "Columbia Graphophone Company - Copyright 1906) :-)

The Eli Eli (that also is marked 1906) was recorded 15/10 1918, no matter how the record is marked.

February 27, 2008 at 02:20 PM ·

February 27, 2008 at 10:38 PM · Pieter said:That's because it's a lot easier to play at a decent competition level than it is to play in the way you describe. An average violinist can learn and practice to do the former. The latter is something you're born with.

I'm not sure we're born with the gift fully formed. I think we're born with the potential to play at that level and it takes a great deal of work--not simply technical work, but emotional work to play that way.

I remember that when I was studying Wagner's Prize Song as a singer in an acting class it cost me more than a few tears.(It's very difficult to sing through tears.) But I finally learned to sing the piece in a way that was the truth--for me--so that I could make it believable for someone else.

I think that is how to approach the sound that makes one weep. It forces performance into a uniquely personal place that you may not wish to go to, but I think it is that special place that makes Seidel's sound so moving. The difference was that he probably never needed to learn how to do that, he simply played his fiddle. The rest of us can learn that if we're willing to think about the fiddle as more than just perfect scales and phrasing. It is far more challenging than perfect playing. It is actually very embarrassing to show that much of yourself. But the results are worth it.

There is a wonderful story by Oscar Wilde called the Nightingale and the Rose. I think it tells what playing the violin at that level is all about.

March 10, 2008 at 02:25 PM · I just aquired recordings of Toscha Seidel playing Traumerei (when he was 7 years old).

also, schubert serenade, and Eli Eli and Kreisler's caprice venois. It's really amazing stuff...if anyone is interested, just let me know and i can send you the recordings

I would love a copy.. PLEASE

March 21, 2008 at 02:03 PM · To me, Seidel had the most penetrating, beautiful, seductive tone out of all the violinist I ever heard, which you could hear in his Intermezzo recording. Seidel used what Henry Roth calls an impulse type vibrato, just like Kreisler used. There is no arm movement and very little hand motion involved. The short clip you tube has of him playing, shows this effect. Again, anyone interested in this impulse vibrato on how it emerged and how to you use it, see Steve Redrobe's web site. In closing, although Heifetz plays the intermezzo beautifully, this piece belongs to Seidel by far.

March 22, 2008 at 12:44 AM · Hi D Kurganov,

I too would love a copy of the Seidel recordings! Please let me know how I'd go about obtaining them.


March 22, 2008 at 02:09 AM · Me Too!!!. I'm waiting for a record company to release Seidel's complete Columbia recordings.

April 8, 2008 at 05:02 AM · Don't hold your breath!

April 9, 2008 at 02:58 AM · I figured out what Seidel was staring at at the end of the video.

His future.

September 10, 2008 at 04:17 AM · Reading the biography of the violinist Efrem Zimbalist, I just came across the name of Toscha Seidel, of whom I had never heard, Philistine that I am.

Soooooooo, I went to youtube and found a clip of him playing the Korngold "Much Ado" suite (several clips of his have recently been posted). He has one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard come from a violin. This is music at its very best:

To quote from Efrem Zimbalist A Life, by Roy Malan: "Leopold Auer had spent the summers of 1915 and 1916 in a picturesque village in Norway, even more attractive because of its neutrality. The many students who accompanied him there combined study with outdoor recreation. One was the superb violinist Toscha Seidel. Born in Odessa in 1900, Seidel was a student at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin in 1912 when he first heard Heifetz play. Stunned, he immediately returned to Russia in quest of lessons with Heifetz's teacher. Seidel was the fourth in the quartet of great Auer students (chronologically by major debuts, Elman, Zimbalist, Heifetz, Seidel). Nathan Milstein's name is purposely omitted; his contact with Auer, just before the Professor's flight from Russia, was very limited.

Seidel, among the last of the great Auer students fully formed in Russia, was to have a sad career in the United States, where he arrived too soon after Heifetz's revelations to have an impact. This, compounded by an inability to handle his affairs intelligently, eventually relegated Seidel to chasing the Hollywood dollar. His sensuous tone made him the consummate background soloist for the romantic movies then being churned out [there is an excerpt from one on youtube]. Owing possibly to envy, detractors claimed that he couldn't count very well, and the end of his career was clouded by frustration and bitterness. Ironically, in the 1950s, at Heifetz's request, he served as concertmaster for some of the master's most spectacular concerto recordings. Seidel died in Los Angeles in 1962."

It is a shame that his is not a household name--he is an incredible artist.

September 10, 2008 at 03:56 PM · my understanding was that it wasn't as much intrigue that killed his studio career as much as the demise of the STUDIO system.

As he was unable to deal with the rigors of finding work, the studio system was perfect. Go to the studio, they tell you what to play and that is it.

There was a Strad article many years back which mentioned that his mental faculties waned and he ended his life playing in a Vegas pit orchstra. At least that is what I THINK it said

For a fascinating look at this, read Andre Previn's NO MINOR CHORDS

September 10, 2008 at 04:12 PM · It's also possible that the criticism of his counting ability is in the context of Hollywood studio recording, where passionate and perfect sight-reading of difficult music is the standard expected.

September 22, 2009 at 04:00 AM ·

I understand that he lived in Las Vegas at the end of his life.  I checked, and there still are Seidels in the Las Vegas telephone book.  Perhaps you could call them?  The Korngold Much Ado suite on youtube (I believe the composer is accompanying) is an incredible experience.  So nice to share a love of this incredible violinist.

September 22, 2009 at 12:43 PM ·

Thanks so much Dimitri for this wonderful interview!!!


August 1, 2010 at 04:30 PM ·

My father, who died in 1990, was a student of Toscha Seidel in the 1920s in New York. He was also a student of Christiaan Kriens. My father began studying the violin at age 7 and in later years, his tone and technique were remarkably like that of Toscha Seidel. I still have in my possession a post card he received from Toscha Seidel and his wife from California, postmarked 1934. My father performed at the Carnegie Chamber Music Hall with fine newspaper reviews, and was offered a teaching position at the Ithaca Conservatory of Music in New York, which he declined. He also passed an audition with the Paul Whiteman orchestra, but on the day he was to begin working with them, he never appeared due to intense stage fright. Sadly, my father settled for selling life insurance for a small, little-known insurance company and never earned more than $100 a week! Tragically, his low self-esteem, originating from a very physically abusive childhood, led him to make poor choices that were unfulfilling and didn't accurately reflect his considerable talent and skill. He remained a very angry and disappointed man until the end of his life, yet was unable to make the choices that would have brought him greater satisfaction. Two months after his death, I donated 225 of his violin scores to the Juilliard School's library, which was greatly appreciated. My advice to all parents is to recognize that they are writing on the slate of who their children are with their words and deeds. A child's self-worth will determine his choices and even his happiness later in life.

August 22, 2011 at 03:12 PM ·

I'm also a big fan of Seidel. I wonder if anyone has ever compiled a list if his film solos apart from Intermezzo?

I recently finshed the memoir of the other great Hollywood concertmaster of the time, Louis Kauffman, who btw, also played on Intermezzo. He was generous enough to say what a great challenge it was to try to match Seidel's luscious tone. But let me tell you, Kauffman played those romantic Holllywood solos, and other things that especially suited him, really exquisitely.(A CD is included with the book.) In Kauffman's book is a list of most of the many films in which he served as CM, and I think it would be a great service if this could also be done with Seidel.

Apparrently Seidel was resistant to Hollywood at first and even chastised Kaufman: "how could you, a serious artist, go in for that sort of thing?" Replied Kauffman: "Toscha, they never ask me to play badly, and their checks never bounce!" Next thing you know...

August 22, 2011 at 11:25 PM ·

I have a recording of seidel playing beethoven's minuet in g and i think, samuel gardner's from the canebreak or something like that. Hes playing on the fleishman yeast hour.

I have found that alot of his commercial recordings havent been released. A quick check on google allowed me to discover that he also recording weinawsky's romance, dvorak's humoureske, tchaikovski's andante from the string quartet, achrons hebrew melody and schuberts ave maria. WHERE CAN ONE GET THESE RECORDINGS 

August 23, 2011 at 02:27 AM ·

 Remember how Mendelsohn rediscovered Bach .

And Kauffman arguably rediscovered Vivladi in our time!

August 23, 2011 at 12:58 PM ·

 yes but where are the seidel radio recordings!!!?????


August 23, 2011 at 04:14 PM ·

I got all accoustic and electric recordings of Seidel. Here is a list of radio and TV broadcasts by Seidel:

10 August 1933 from the Fleischmann's yeast hour
Beethoven: Minuet in G, WoO 10 No. 2
Gardner: Piece No.1, op.5 "From the canebrake"
Joseph Wallman, piano
10 August 1933

07 May 1936, Bing Crosby - Kraft Music Hall No. 23
With Bob Burns, the Paul Taylor Choristers, Toscha Seidel, Una Merkel and George Raft.

02 July 1936, Bing Crosby - Kraft Music Hall No.29
With Bob Burns, Toscha Seidel, Frank Morgan, Frances Farmer and Martha Raye.

11 February 1937, Bing Crosby - Kraft Music Hall No.53
With Ken Carpenter, Bob Burns, Edward Everett Horton, Dorothy McNulty and Toscha Seidel. Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra

06 January 1938, Bing Crosby - Kraft Music Hall No.87
With Ken Carpenter, Bob Burns, The Paul Taylor Choristers, Toscha Seidel, Sterling Holloway and Constance Bennett. John Scott Trotter Orchestra

12 May 1938, Bing Crosby - Kraft Music Hall No.105
With Ken Carpenter, the Paul Taylor Choristers, Isabel Jewell, Toscha Seidel and Basil Rathbone. John Scott Trotter Orchestra

24 November 1938, Bing Crosby - Kraft Music Hall No. 121
With Ken Carpenter, Bob Burns, The Gonzaga Glee Club, The Foursome, Toscha Seidel, Andrea Leeds and Chester Morris.

Young musical America. [1951] / KLAC-TV ; produced by Sylvia Kunin and Syd Cassyd. Publisher: Los Angeles, Calif. : KLAC-TV, 1951.
[With:] Sara Compinsky, Nina Koshetz, Toscha Seidel.

August 23, 2011 at 04:20 PM ·

 YES YES YES!!!!!!! WOW can you hear him playing solos in those, or is it just him in an orchestra?

and how can i get a hold of those recordings?? please...

August 23, 2011 at 04:20 PM ·

August 23, 2011 at 04:22 PM ·

 hahah fast food tempo! mind you i hate fast food... but when it comes to seidel!!! i need to find those recordings! :)

August 23, 2011 at 04:22 PM ·

Solo pieces accompanied by piano or orchestra

August 23, 2011 at 04:41 PM ·

 wow so cool, is this available online

August 23, 2011 at 08:38 PM ·

 though Id say toscha seidels sound was one of the best if not the best in the world, i thought this poem was a bit dissapointing. I thought it was much too slow, so much so until i lost the whole structure of the piece. I much prefer the heifetz recording. i also dont really like all those string crossings in the first opening line. Heifetz in one of the masterclass videos  said that he once heard a performance of 18 minutes, which was a one you fell asleep in. wondered if he was reffering to seidel's?

August 23, 2011 at 11:29 PM ·

 this might come in handy for other seidel recordings,

August 24, 2011 at 12:52 PM ·

For John Cadd:
Seidel appeared quite often in the US radio during the 30s and 40s. I have no evidence that he appeared at the Ford Sunday Evening Hour, which Heifetz did several times. I know from a former Seidel pupil that he possessed a bunch of acetates of his own performances including one with A.Einstein performing the Bach double concert in 1934. After his wife Estelle passed away, I assume that his vaults were thrown away.  I do have a few radio broadcasts from the Kraft Music Hall series. Major issue with archive material is that many of them are not labelled or documented.

August 24, 2011 at 05:00 PM ·

 This is getting very interesting!! Einstein and toscha seidel... HOW CAN THAT BE THROWN AWAY!

August 24, 2011 at 06:36 PM ·


I've researched his life a bit. The "family" original came out of Germany and settled in the Caucausus Mountain area of Russia. They continued to speak German in their villages until the political situations changed and they no longer enjoyed the special privileges given to the German settlers in the latter part of the Tzar's reign. Toscha and his brother Wladimir had no children. And his younger brother died before him. Wladimir went to Harvard and got his PhD from a university in Germany. He worked on many projects and is published. Unfortunately, he too developed some sort of mental problem and Parkinson's Disease. During WWII, Toscha served in the US Navy Band. Toward the end of Seidel's career he began experiencing some type of mental problems.  I am not clear what type, but it was a sad end for such a talented violinist.  After approximately 5 years, he died of heart problems in the nursing home. He is buried in Palo Alto.

Due to the fact that there were no children or other relatives, it's highly possible that his material ended on a junkyards .. similar to another Auer pupil who died in poverty.

August 25, 2011 at 12:34 AM ·

Truly a sad end for such a great talent!

August 25, 2011 at 06:13 AM ·

I'm not in favour of comparing violinists and ranking them between others. To put it in a nutshell  .... Seidel was a true belcanto violinist ... most remarkable sound profile  ... a style of phrasing which passed away and will never come back ... let's enjoy the few recordings, he left for us ... and perhaps some others will surface one day ...  and finally, I prefer his "old fashioned" style much more than the existing style.

August 25, 2011 at 12:14 PM ·

 Dont get me wrong i love seidel's playing in the poem, i just prefer heifetz's interpretation

August 25, 2011 at 08:54 PM ·

I heard once a funny story when Heifetz was recording the Chausson Poeme, Toscha Seidel was sitting with his friend Marshall Shoshone on the 2nd stand of the first Heifetz was playing the opening..he hit a note high C on the G string that wasn't in tune as Heifetz usually played but was probably good enough for anyone else Marshall said.. and right in the middle of the playing Toscha said..oh no no Jascha!! Papa would not be proud!!..the next day Toscha was sitting last chair in the 2nds...

Another one: He was asked when he was playing concertmaster at Paramount Studios..Tosch..How do You do it??? he would say ,like it was so obvious.."I squeeze my hands really hard when I play"..He was apparently on simple minded side and yet such a natural on the violin...One day the head of Paramount came in to listen and ... William Kurasch said to Toscha" Hey Tosch,this guy is a big Russian diplomat and none of us know Russian..can you help him out?? and Toscha was so proud and went over and started speaking Russian to the head of paramount and the guy said "Who is this guy get him out of here!...and another time he started playing a violin solo with every note a trill.. and the conductor yelled at him..I said thrilling!!! not trilling!! and then he was sight reading a solo and said to the composer "these notes are really high..and the composer said back.."don`t worry will get you a step ladder"..and Henry Roth said once ..Toscha came in and someone said to him at 8am in the morning while he was smoking his pipe and playing a scale."You can`t play like you used too can you??" and Toscha just shifted his pipe to the side and played the first 2 pages of the Brahms violin concerto as good as a anyone and after that no one ever questioned his ability on the violin again..:)

August 29, 2011 at 10:38 AM ·


August 29, 2011 at 11:48 AM ·

 I read somewhere that his intermezzo was on a vuillaume actually

May 6, 2013 at 03:58 PM · Hello, who can help with copy or mp3 of complete RCA recordings of Toscha Seidel ? Really appreciate it.

May 6, 2013 at 06:28 PM · Hello,

Here is my collection of Toscha's recordings for fair use educational purposes.

This is everything that has ever been released, plus many 78's that I collected and transfered myself. I hope you enjoy it. Best Wishes,


May 6, 2013 at 08:17 PM · There are man Youtube videos.

July 15, 2015 at 07:05 AM · I was recently looking on the net at the OCLC World Cat. and was shocked to find movements of the Mendelssohn & Tchaikovsky concertos plus a movement of the Lalo played by Toscha Seidel with orchestra.Also one or two short works that I have not come across before. Has anyone heard these recordings and how can they be made available? I would hope that every recording of Seidel was a matter of real importance to lovers of great playing.

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