The Tragedy of Friedman

Edited: May 3, 2021, 11:11 AM · Greetings,
this video of Friedman reminded me what a great violinist he had been. might not be so familiar to younger generation unless they watch Heifetz masterclasses. he looks like he is seriously ill to me. here but the playing is just exquisite


Replies (13)

May 3, 2021, 7:51 AM · That was beautiful; thank you for posting.
May 3, 2021, 8:02 AM · Wow- a whole clinic on Heifetz' nuances. You could get a lot of mileage just from writing his fingerings into the part.
Edited: May 3, 2021, 10:18 AM · I attended a performance by Erick Friedman of the Brahms concerto about 50 years ago. Acoustically it was probably not the ideal venue - the all-purpose room of our local high school (a few years before their auditorium was constructed). Friedman was accompanied by the Kern Philharmonic (now known as the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, their original name. A number of the orchestra members were LA professionals.). The orchestra members had to drive to our town either the 160 miles from LA or the 110 miles from Bakersfield - over the northern end of the Tehachapi mountains and the southern end of the Sierra Nevada to get to the venue. (I wonder how their ears survived the journey, because 6 years earlier I drove over those mountains to Bakersfield to perform and my ears closed up and were still closed when we rehearsed on the stage and fortunately I yawned just as we walked out on the stage to perform Schubert's C Major Quintet.)

It was an "eyeopening" experience for me, because unlike the balance of soloist and orchestra we hear on recordings (or as I have heard in live performances by Hahn, Stern, Perlman and Heifetz) some of Friedman's solo parts were obscured by the orchestra and all that came to my ears during those passages were higher overtones from his violin and it was exquisite. Hearing the Brahms that way I had to marvel at how different and how marvelous the concerto sounded that way. Brahms really knew what he was doing!

It is sad that Friedman was taken from us so early, but at least he was with us so many more years than Neveu, Hassid and Rabin.

Edited: May 3, 2021, 2:46 PM · Thank you for posting this Buri. It brings back many memories. I’m so glad that he played part of the recital on this beautiful Stradivarius which was loaned to him by this wonderful person and violinist I know.

I remember I first discovered Erick Friedman’s playing in the library of Manhattan School of Music, when I decided to listen to his recording of the Paganini Concerto on the LP player. Being a Heifetz junky from a young age, I was immediately moved and drawn to his liberating style of playing and music making. His playing spoke to me much more than the person I was studying with at the time.

When I first started working with Erick Friedman a few years later in high school, it was quite something to hear that same exact vibrant sound I had listened to on those 1960’s RCA recordings. When I began studying with him, I soon found out he was not only a great player but also an extremely analytical, patient, and dedicated teacher. Hearing him play in person was like I had crawled inside of my record player, but it was even better than that. Certain nuances and intricacies were much more present hearing him in the same room than on recording. Often times people talk about the ‘Heifetz sizzle’ in his sound due to close microphone placement, which picked up some surface noise. Friedman had some of that ‘sizzle’ in his tone as well on a few of his recordings, but if you were ten feet away from him, in the same room, his tone was golden, vibrant, and round without any grit. So I began to realize that recordings as great as they were, did not completely capture the full acoustical reality of what he sounded like in person, as Andrew alluded to above.

One other thing I will always remember, is that he taught me literally to the very end of his life while battling lung cancer. I was his very last student - he passed away 4 days after my last lesson with him. Studying with him was not only a great education in violin playing, but also a lesson in life and perseverance.

May 3, 2021, 3:40 PM · very touching, actually.
Edited: May 3, 2021, 3:45 PM · Greetings?
I would encourage anyone to seek out the few recordings of him around. They are -fantastic-!
I noticed in his ‘The Way They Play’ (B5) interview that he was clearly very analytical in a very straightforward and helpful way which is more than you can say for some of those interviewees.
When I was young and his name cropped up in discussion one did hear occasional references to his being a ‘Heifetz Copy’ but I have always found that ridiculous. I spent most of my young life steeped in the Heifetz sound and although there are elements of it in his playing (true for many older players) Friedman is Friedman and I can’t get enough of his playing.
May 3, 2021, 5:24 PM · I had the good fortune of meeting Erick Friedman twice, in Miami and Miami Beach. I had a front row seat when he played the Brahms Concerto in the mid 1970s with the Miami Philharmonic, Sixten Ehrling was the conductor. I was only about 14 years old then, but it was truly unforgettable. I then attended his recital in Miami Beach and met him backstage after the concert. He was a gentle giant. He towered over me, but was very kind and attentive. He signed a promotional flyer with his picture for me. I have it framed on my wall of violin superstars, right next to my priceless Heifetz poster from The Strad magazine. I love Friedman's playing and regret I didn't study with him. Like Elisabeth Matesky, he was a star pupil of Heifetz and Milstein! I'm still saddened to think that he's passed away. Thankfully, his recorded legacy lives on. I highly recommend his rendition of Cesar Franck's Sonata. You can find it on YouTube.
Edited: May 3, 2021, 6:58 PM · small world?
Andrew Victor, MSM 1944 - 1946 (kid's program, violin lessons and theory class every Saturday in the old E. 105th St. bldg for 2 years, moved away from NY in 1947).
May 3, 2021, 7:17 PM · Paganini 1
May 3, 2021, 9:15 PM · Greetings,
Actually I have just found the Eric Friedman homepage and subscribed to it so I am rather than me continually posting new examples of his fantastic playing I’m just going to pass that information on to you and then sit around and listen to his stuff well eating dark chocolate a la Christian.
Havanaise is something else...
May 3, 2021, 9:30 PM · RIP Mr. Friedman. Thank you for sharing those wonderful stories.
Edited: May 4, 2021, 3:55 AM · Greetings,
wellI was just going note there was a site full of stuff and leave it but....
This is worth watching
The phrase he plays at 4:45 is so poignant and perfect it made my hair stand on end.
Which is odd since I don’t have any...
May 5, 2021, 10:19 AM · Thank you, Buri, for this welcome post. My first recording of the Bach Double was Heifetz/Friedman. Many poignant memories are associated.

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