Josef Gingold on Violin Playing and Teaching

Recently, I found a few interesting links relating to Josef Gingold, the legendary violinist and teacher who died in 1995. If you’re not familiar with Gingold’s legacy, this short video offers insights into his life, distinguished career and great humanity.

Having studied with the nineteenth century Belgian violinist Eugene Ysaye, Gingold was one of the last links to an elegant earlier style of violin playing. Here is an excerpt from his 1976 recording Josef Gingold Plays Fritz Kreisler, featuring Kreisler’s Aucassin et Nicolette. It showcases his golden tone and the warmth of his playing:

[quote]No matter what you do, always con amore, always with love. You never play dutifully, you play beautifully.[/quote]

Gingold has many interesting things to say in this interview, conducted in the last years of his life by Kim Markl. He talks about the importance of constantly learning and changing throughout life. Despite his age, he exudes a love of the violin and a joy of discovery that suggests an amazing youthful vitality. He discusses the way styles of violin playing have changed over time, demonstrating in the style of Ysaye. He believes that the most fundamental aspect of good tone production is good intonation, which allows rich overtones to ring. When asked about teaching, Gingold stresses the importance of a student’s first teacher in establishing the correct foundation. He says that a good teacher must have patience and must recognize that each student is unique.

It’s also fascinating to hear Gingold’s thoughts on violinists of the past. In this episode of Music for the Fingerboard Gingold takes us through recordings of significant violinists of the past including Joachim, Sarasate, Auer, Kreisler, Huberman, Ysaye and Heifetz. Students of Gingold, such as Joshua Bell say that listening to recordings and studying the way legendary violinists played was an important part of their lessons with Gingold. Indeed, it’s important for all violinists to know the playing of the great violinists of the past. (Here are Parts 2, 3, 4 and 5 of Music for the Fingerboard).

Here is a recording of Josef Gingold playing Henryk Wieniawski’s Capriccio Valse. Wieniawski was a Polish violinist and composer who lived from 1835-1880:

The Artistry of Maxim Vengerov

Here are some inspiring clips featuring the great Russian violinist, Maxim Vengerov.

In the first video, Vengerov performs the Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957).  The Chicago Symphony accompanies, conducted by Daniel Barenboim. The concerto is followed by two encores: The Sarabanda from J.S. Bach’s Partita No. 2 for Solo Violin (0:35:31) and Eugene Ysaye’s Ballad (0:40:06).

Polish violinist and composer Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880) contributed greatly to the development of the violin.  Here, Vengerov talks about Wieniawski and plays the dazzling Variations, Op. 15:

The final clip is a movie entitled Playing by Heart that features Vengerov’s life as a concert violinist.  At 4:20 you will briefly hear some of the Vivaldi A Minor Concerto from Suzuki Book 4:

Great Violinists on Video

Here are some inspiring violin videos from Youtube.  As a violinist, I always enjoy soaking up the musicianship of a variety of players, as well as analyzing the way each player uniquely approaches the instrument.

We’ll start with Humoresque in G-Flat Major by the Czech composer, Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904).  This is a piece that Suzuki students know from Book 3.  Itzhak Perlman and cellist Yo-Yo Ma are accompanied by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Seiji Ozawa.  This performance can be found on a recording that features a sampling of Dvorak’s music.

The Sonata in A major for Violin and Piano by French composer Cesar Franck (1822-1890) has become a staple of the violin repertoire.  Here is the final Movement, performed by Joshua Bell and pianist Jeremy Denk.  It was included on their newly released recordingFrench Impressions.  Bell and Denk discuss the CD here. I also recommend Oleh Krysa’s recording of this piece.

No one had a greater impact on the development of the violin than Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840).  Paganini toured Europe, achieving rock star status at a time when the public concert hall increasingly made concerts available to the masses and not just aristocracy.

Violinist Julia Fischer has some interesting things to say about Paganini and the 24 Caprices (short pieces that employ dazzling technical effects).

Belgian violinist Eugene Ysaye (1858-1931) contributed six solo violin sonatas to the repertoire, each dedicated to one of his fellow violinists.

Here, the legendary David Oistrakh performs the third sonata, dedicated to George Enescu.