Your opinion: Greatest and Favorite
We all have opinions on who, overall, was/is the greatest violinist of all time.
As a life-long lover of the classical violin, I am realizing at this point in my life that I do have a difference of opinion on who was the greatest and who is my favorite.
Obviously, there's no right or wrong in this survey.
The greatest - Jascha Heifetz
My favorite - Zino Francescatti
Hilary Hahn for living, and, uhh... Hilary Hahn for the GOAT.
I like Mutter, Rosand, Oistrakh, Kremer, Heifetz, Hadelich, and Hahn. Heifetz is probably the greatest, partly for his playing and partly for his influence over the generations that followed -- although those two issues do overlap significantly. I think Heifetz had good timing -- he lived (born 1901) and played during the emergence of high-fidelity recordings, so he and a few other truly great players (e.g., Ricci, Oistrakh, Milstein) became legends partly because others had to content with the existence of their recordings. Kreisler was one generation too early (born 1875), Rosand a generation too late (born 1927), otherwise I feel they might have contended with Heifetz for the crown.
There was one violinist who was so good it was commonly accepted he had made a deal with the devil, because no mortal man would be able to achieve his level of technical prowess. I remember his music being particularly unique and incredibly difficult, but still catchy. For the life of me, though, I can't remember his name...
I love this threads, my name always pops up...
Zuckerman and Mutter- I hate the term greatest because there are so many great ones with different everything and I love them for different reasons. That said, Zuckerman and Mutter have a beauty and ease that I adore.
I can hardly imagine someone being better than Heifetz (that we know of) but my personal favourite would have to be Janine Jansen at the moment.
Greatest: toss-up between Heifetz and Hahn, at least in the era of recorded music.
Not wishing to cast nasturtiums but I do find the widespread admiration for Hilary Hahn somewhat perplexing. Can someone suggest a recording that might convert me? Something in which she has something individual to say.
Not wishing to cast nasturtiums, I can never understand when someone I've never heard of expresses a negative opinion about someone widely acknowledged to be a master of their chosen profession.
I'm not qualified to comment on who is the greatest of all time, but my current favorites are among Hilary Hahn, Augustin Hadelich, and Itzhak Perlman in his heyday.
Greatest? I'll dare suggest Oistrakh. Heifetz is just..Heifetz.
"the red blood of an Oistrakh"
@TonyLeatham - I don't deny Hahn's good, of course not. I'd just like to know how exactly what qualities people value so highly as to group her with the "greatest". What's your favourite recording?
I said somewhere that Ms Hahn is a radiant, feminine version of Heifetz.
@Steve Jones - Hilary Hahn is "good"? I flatter myself that I'm "good" - but Hilary Hahn and all the other players mentioned here transcend "good" - they are so far above "good" it's like comparing an acorn to a planet.
The greatest for me would possibly be Menuhin or Perlman.
Oscar Shumsky? Supposed to be a "violinist's violinist." I got to see him play in person once in a small venue, and I have his recordings of all the Brahms Sonatas. I want to say that he was terrific, but intonation seemed to be an issue.
Ida Haendel - especially her Danse Russe and Sibelius Concerto interpretations
Another vote for Hilary Hahn. I also really like Arthur Grumiaux's recording of the Mozart concertos.
Heifetz was the best, but Fritz Kreisler is my favorite.
The greatest? Who can ignore the legendary Paganini?
Unfortunately, Paganini was too early to record. That's why I qualified my "greatest" with "in the era of recorded music."
For the Goldmark - Milstein.
Personal favourites are fine but GOAT games are silly. Can anyone actually claim to have heard all these fiddlers, in the flesh, in a sufficient sample of their repertoire? We're simply regurgitating received wisdom and tilting it according to our own limited experience
I admire most of the world's great violinists, but from my student days my favorites were Joseph Szigeti and Alfredo Campoli. Had anyone told me then that I would come to know each of them well and be friends with them, I would not have believed it.
Some of us had a long-running discussion of this over at Linked-In, violin dept. The consensus was Heifetz for #1, then in no particular order, Milstein, Kreisler, Oistrakh, Perlman, Fracescatti. Before electric recording (1927), we have to judge them according to their contemporary reputation, their advancement of technique, the difficulty of their compositions. My list was Paganini #1, then Vivaldi, Joachim, Ysaye, Sarasate. Besides H. Hahn, Joshua Bell, I don't know enough to say about the current soloists. Then there were some brilliant players who were not famous: Campoli. Also; If you hear a gorgeous violin solo on a movie sound-track of the golden age, 1930's - 1960's (?), it was probably Louis Kaufman. When asked why he did so many studio recording sessions instead of being a trveling soloist, his answer was; "Their checks don't bounce".
Don't "the people" deserve a say too? After all, everybody has an opinion regardless of whether they have any relevant knowledge. Give them a short list of 100, put it to the vote and erect a statue. The BBC recently decided that the greatest "icon" of the 20th century was Alan Turing, based of what criteria isn't entirely clear but he played like Einstein!
"Like Einstein" Turing also played the violin but exactly how well isn't recorded. Apparently he played to the policemen who came round to question him but it seems didn't impress them enough to let him off with a caution. But he gets my vote anyway.
Maestro Heifetz gets at times an unfair, bad reputation for "steely" or "uninvolved" performances, but he was quite romantic in his music making. Always remember listening to his Lalo SE years ago and thinking "wow, this is not really "cold" at all!" Wonderful performance, despite the unfortunate-and customary-lack of the middle movement.
Pardon my blasphemy but, why is Heifetz considered the pinnacle of violin playing by many/most? What made Heifetz, Heifetz?
Many of Heifetz's later recordings sound superb in RCA's Living Stereo remastering and I don't think are at all inferior to today's. One I particularly like is the Bruch Scottish Fantasy, another Prokofiev's 2nd concerto, even his Bach Double. I often don't entirely agree with his approach but I hear a refreshing individuality that very few subsequent players possessed (although in recent years there does seem to have been a resurgence). GOAT? Who cares?
" "Like Einstein" Turing also played the violin but exactly how well isn't recorded" You missed my point - where is your example of Einstein playing the violin?
Wow. I didn't expect to kick off this level of discussion. But, just to add 2 things:
@Elise - sadly there appears to be no recording of Einstein's playing - just a rather lame youtube spoof
I literally had not heard of Francescatti before reading this thread. Thanks. I'm going to have to go find recordings.
"How sad - they you would hate the others in my list above Carl - the people who played before playing became largely codified..."
Exactly Steve - I had a topic on that here years ago (see below) but I had to check if you knew of any recording. Which is why, of course you could not make your comparison.
Carl - try this for starters. But let your emotions lead not your preconceptions of how a violin should sound.
@elise - OK, now I get you. I said Turing played violin like Einstein in the same sense as Turing was a great scientist like Einstein. Turing probably had eggs for breakfast like Einstein. But sadly no recordings of either.
If you ask most pros, they will still say Heifetz. And if you asked Heifetz, he would have said Kreisler. Although many placed Ysaÿe ahead of both of the new guys.
Not everyone is Heifetz's fan, but most of them would concede that his technique is unmatched. It's hard to forge a style out of classical music, and he did that excellently with his nonchalant, swift, and light playing style, yet with too much precision which I'm not a fan of.
@Sander - I can't help commenting that Francescatti's Philadelphia recording of the Beethoven was one of my first LPs, bought in about 1966, and I played it constantly. He was supposed to play the piece at a concert in Bristol but on arrival we discovered he'd cried off and been replaced by Tossy Spivakovsky (anyone?). I also had Francescatti's recordings of Walton (coupled with Sibelius), Ravel, Chausson etc, and nearly all the Beethoven sonatas, bought relatively cheaply when the mono pressings were being phased out.
Peter, if you liked the Francescatti/Metropoulos Beethoven, try the Tchaikovsky on cd. Spectacular, elegant, dramatic, vocal, and warm.
Sander - I found the Tchaikovsky on Youtube. Fine performance, but I'm not blown away by it. Probably my luke-warm feeling towards the concerto has something to do with it - of the 'big' concertos it's the one I like the least. But I will be looking for more Francescatti recordings.
Oistrakh for life. David Oistrakh, obviously, I mean, Igor was great too, but he couldn't live up to his dad's legacy.
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