August 6 marked the passing of one of the twentieth century’s greatest violinists, Ruggiero Ricci. Ricci’s playing was notable for its fire, brilliance and daredevil virtuosity. Like Yehudi Menuhin, Ruggiero Ricci was a child prodigy and a student of the legendary teacher Louis Persinger. Ricci’s long career provided a link between the world of Ysaye, Kreisler and Heifetz and the present.
Go to NPR and Slipped Disk for video of Ruggiero Ricci’s playing and more on his life. You might also want to read this interview.
Here are additional clips:
2 thoughts on “Violinist Ruggiero Ricci (1918-2012)”
I had the distinct pleasure of accompanying Ricci in the Fla. Symphony back in the late ’70’s (one of my first pay gigs out of college). It was memorable in that he was so intense and virtuosic in his interpretation. I honestly cannot think of what he played, but that’s more a problem of my memory than how it went. I remember some violinist in the group called him “Screechy Ricci” and I thought that was cruel, and not what I thought at all of his playing. He played a little more rough on the edges than some, but I liked the results because it wasn’t just “careful” and boring as some smoother “perfect” violinists can be at times. It was indeed a more fiery experience.
Thank you for sharing your memory of Ricci, John. Your observations seem to match what Boris Schwarz wrote in Great Masters of the Violin: “His style stresses virtuosity, the slashing attack, the daredevil approach. Though he has a beautiful tone (perhaps overvibrated at times and with a tendency to bear down heavily on the strings), there is little repose or lyricism in his playing. But it is grand-style fiddle playing without plumbing great depths. The brio and fire make up for a lack of charm and sensitivity.” (pg. 537)
In an age of processed “perfection” on recordings and soloists who tend to sound alike, the individuality and humanity of Ricci’s musical voice seems all the more valuable.