Hot Dogs, Fireworks and Violins

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In celebration of Independence Day, take a moment and listen to Noah Bendix-Balgley perform solo violin versions of God Bless America and The Star Spangled Banner at a Pittsburgh Pirates game (below). Bendix-Balgley is the 29-year-old concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony who recently accepted the same position with the Berlin Philharmonic. He will stay in Pittsburgh for at least part of this coming season. Hear a few more clips in this previous post.

If you’re in the mood for more patriotic solo violin music, here is Ruggiero Ricci’s 1995 recording of Henri Vieuxtemps’ Souvenir d’Amérique, Variations burlesques sur “Yankee Doodle” Op.17 . Vieuxtemps (1820-1881), one of the nineteenth century’s most influential violinists, wrote Yankee Doodle in New Orleans during his first American concert tour. Apparently, American audiences in the 1840s had a hard time listening to long European concert music, but when Vieuxtemps played Yankee Doodle he was met with cheers. 

For more music, revisit last year’s Sousa post and have a happy Fourth!

Next Stop, Berlin For Noah Bendix-Balgley

Noah Bendix-Balgley
Noah Bendix-Balgley

Last Friday we learned that Noah Bendix-Balgley, concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony, won an audition for the position of first concertmaster with the Berlin Philharmonic. The news shows just how global the classical music world has become. Over the last decade, English conductor Simon Rattle has brought a fresh new approach to tradition-bound Berlin. When Rattle leaves in 2018, it will be interesting to see how the organization again attempts to balance tradition with innovation.

Here is an impressive clip of Noah Bendix-Balgley playing the virtuosic concertmaster solo from Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben with the Pittsburgh Symphony. It’s hard to imagine anyone playing it better:

And here he is playing the Romanian Dances by Bela Bartok with pianist David Allen Wehr:

Bendix-Balgley plays a 1732 Bergonzi violin which he talks about here.