Is having students listen to historical violinists part of teaching these days?

September 11, 2019, 11:59 PM · I was talking with a young man who studies with one of the finest teachers in Los Angeles. This lad can play anything. He's also never heard recordings of Kreisler, Elman, Thibaud, Prihoda, Grumiaux, Morini, Francescatti, Kogan, or several other violinists I mentioned.

In most fields of study, including literature and the visual arts, exposure to great artists of the past is de rigueur. Do you think that should be part of any serious violin student's education?

Replies (12)

September 12, 2019, 12:04 AM · My new teacher suggests listening to old recordings, so yeah I would say it should be. To help with interpretation if nothing else
September 12, 2019, 3:15 AM · Isn't that a bit like saying 'should an artist look at great art'?

Its a no-brainer. Sure, you may have ideas for interpretation or playing style, but by not listening to past greats how can you know or expand on musical artistry?

Maybe this is the real reason so many of the new violinists sound so... ordinary...

September 12, 2019, 3:24 AM · Thats a good point Elise
September 12, 2019, 7:55 AM · I can't speak for others, but the kids in my son's pre-college program listen to lots and lots of old recordings. They also listen to today's players and specialist recordings (ie Baroque). I would guess this student you met is somewhat of an anomaly.
September 12, 2019, 9:14 AM · I agree with Susan. Young players today have, thanks to YouTube and services like Spotify, a far more wide-ranging selection of players that they can and do listen to.
September 12, 2019, 12:51 PM · Lydia - 'can' undoubtedly, but 'do'? Is there (I really don't know, not mixing with violin students) an attitude in that the old stuff has been superseded by the new and hence can be ignored?

September 12, 2019, 12:57 PM · I think the problem is the quality of the recordings. When I listen, I can't get past the poor recording quality, no matter how well people play. I think people are used to having stereo etc. recordings now
September 12, 2019, 1:06 PM · Jake - then train your ears. Its a too easy 'out'. For example, I don't think you can find a more beautifully expressive violinist than this:

But what a life-tragedy!

September 12, 2019, 2:32 PM · Elise, I don't think so. The younger generation still listens to Heifetz, Milstein, Ricci, etc. They've probably heard Kreisler, but they might not have listened to folks like Szigeti.
September 12, 2019, 3:04 PM · So the late-greats but not the early ones - really the period where the modern style was developed (Heifetz, Milstein, Ricci) but not the old expressive style (Kreisler, Elman, Hassid).

The irony, of course, is that it is in the latter style that all the great romantic concertos (Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky) were conceived and originally played! Why is there no HIP movement for this era?

Edited: September 14, 2019, 3:26 PM · Re ~ 'Late Greats' & "early one's" ..........

It's "bloody" insane if 'teachers' (calling themselves such?) do Not insist all violin pupil's Listen to All Greatest Violinists on decent to hear recordings & videos. I'll name our Violin Pro online 4 Year LinkedIn international in much
depth Discussion created by Prof N. Hulme, of Thames Valley University/ London, titled ~

"The 10 Top Greatest Violinists of All Time, (I - V)", which included 4 entire years of involved & goodwilled online discussions of many Great Violinists, two of whom were my Violin Mentor's, Heifetz & Nathan Milstein, & not for an auditing situation, but as one of 7 original Artist pupil's of Jascha Heifetz,
in his first USC Int'l Violin Master Class, which was subsequently filmed & put on YouTube in the Year of 2011 ~

Lack of time preventing a description of how involved our 3 days a week for 6 hours each day were, it seems unfathomable that any violin pupil would not have the opportunity of hearing/viewing all 7 Jascha Heifetz termed 'historic' films! Later on in London, after my Fulbright 2 year Scholarship to RCM & already formal London Violin soloist with Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult conducting Debut in the Brahms Violin Concerto, followed by a major Violin European Debut Recital's Tour of over 10 major musical capital's, signed under a prime London Concert Artist Management which included pianists, Arthur Rubinstein, Alicia de Larrocha, etc., plus Violinists, Henryk Szeryng, Ruggiero Ricci, Nathan Milstein & myself as the newest artist, I met Nathan Milstein, who invited me 'round to his London residence to play the Bach Chaconne and immediately invited me to be what he later lovingly termed, his "Guinea pig" private artist pupil for 3 & 1/2 years at least twice a week from 3 to even 5 hours each time (depending if major concerts were on my soloist concert calendar & when Mr. Milstein was not concert touring.)

The Violinists, Heifetz, Milstein, Oistrakh, Kreisler, Szigetti, Ricci, Grumiaux, Francescatti, Ginette Neveu, Erica Morini, Camilla Wicks, Leonid Kogan, Zimbalist, Toscha Seidel, Mischa Elman, Ivry Gitlis, Kubelik, *Kathleen Parlow, *Patricia Travers, Ysaye, *Joachim, *Ferdinand David, Sascha
Lasserson, *Cecilia Hansen, Christian Ferras, Igor Oistrakh, I. Perlman, P. Zukerman, Anne - Sophie Mutter, Hilary Hahn, Elmar Oliveira, Ida Haendel, & I'll con't listing other's, Albert Spaulding, Joseph Hassid, Grisha Gulaboff, Yehudi Menuhin, tbc., were all listened to & in many instances, in 'Sleeper' violin concerti/concert pieces repertoire, Solo Bach, etc., w/re-enlightened discoveries of truly Great Violinists who hadn't survived Life itself, i.e., great Michael Rabin, a tragic figure as well as Joseph Hassid (already named above); remarkable British - Italian Alberto Campoli (his Lalo Symphonie Espagnol, is the Greatest ever recording of!) & other remarkable artists!!!!!

(*indicates wonderful violinists above without available recordings*)

With All stated, How is it even conceivable that teachers would Not assign &/or encourage younger + any aged violin pupil's to Listen Closely to The Greats of the Past to Hear how extraordinarily well the Violin can sound?Astonished, words fail me. No one can stand near a concert stage without first having heard many above (+ Isaac Stern & Oscar Shumsky) to absorb the great sounds of 'names' listed above, + learning of their 'Older' Greatest Pedagogues, Leopold Auer, Carl Flesch, not Galamian (sorry, friends, he was a cold hard - I'll defer any adjective), Jascha Brodsky (& don't allow the
horrid things said recently about him to interfere with his greatness as a Master Pedagogue); Josef Gingold, Persinger, Mishel Piastro (one of my Juilliard trained father's mentor's/friends + Eduoard Dethier, the greatest 'Apostle' of Eugen Ysaye, Franco-Belgium School, also Mentor of my Dad) & this could go on infinitum, but surely the imperative need-responsibility of 'teachers' of Violin, Viola & string cousin's, to must share the great artist's sounds as they dutifully teach scales, Schradieck, Kreutzer, Dont, Paganini & vast concert repertoire for the violin to students in varying stages of pupil development, begs a hugely important other Topic of When & Which Violin Repertoire is advisable to 'encounter' at another time, tbd!!!

I wanted to compliment Elise Stanley on her parallels to Art Students never seeing Great Painter's to learn & realise how glorious a canvas painter can be & evolve in to! It's unthinkable to imagine ~ Bravo, Elise!!

Forgive my need to stop, but the Violin is calling for attention the rest of this day ...

Musically yours for now, I remain encouraged all here are so concerned ~

Elisabeth Matesky / US *

^ Heartened Thanks to Alan Wittert for your brilliant idea of this Topic ^


* Heifetz Viiolin Master Class - Khachaturian,
JH-7, Elisabeth Matesky (Russian version. Library of Master Performers)

September 17, 2019, 3:20 PM · Not only listen, but WATCH, when appropriate. When I was struggling to find a bow hold that works for my anatomy, my teacher asked me to find youtube videos of various well-known violists and check out their bow hold.

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