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  • Violin MasteryTalks with Master

    Violinists andTeachers

    Martens, Frederick H.

  • Release date: 2005-04-04Source: Bebook

  • [Illustration: EUGE YSAYE, withhand-written note]








  • _Copyright, 1919, by_FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY

    * * * * *

    _All rights reserved, including that oftranslation into foreignlanguages_


    The appreciation accorded Miss HarrietteBrower's admirable books on PIANOMASTERY has prompted the presentvolume of intimate _Talks with MasterViolinists and Teachers_, in which anumber of famous artists and instructorsdiscuss esthetic and technical phases ofthe art of violin playing in detail, theirconcept of what Violin Mastery means, andhow it may be acquired. Only limitation ofspace has prevented the inclusion ofnumerous other deserving artists andteachers, yet practically all of the greatestmasters of the violin now in this countryare represented. That the lessons of theirartistry and experience will be of directbenefit and value to every violin studentand every lover of violin music may beaccepted as a foregone conclusion.

  • FREDERICK H.MARTENS. 171 Orient Way,Rutherford N.J.



    EUGE YSAYE The Tools of ViolinMastery 1

    LEOPOLD AUER A Method withoutSecrets 14

    EDDY BROWN Hubay and Auer:Technic: Hints to the Student 25

    MISCHA ELMAN Life and Color inInterpretation. TechnicalPhases 38

    SAMUEL GARDNER Technic andMusicianship 54

    ARTHUR HARTMANN The Problem of

  • Technic 66

    JASCHA HEIFETZ The Danger ofPracticing Too Much.Technical Mastery andTemperament 78

    DAVID HOCHSTEIN The Violin as aMeans of Expression andExpressive Playing 91

    FRITZ KREISLER Personality in Art 99

    FRANZ KNEISEL The Perfect StringEnsemble 110

    ADOLFO BETTI The Technic of theModern Quartet 127

    HANS LETZ The Technic of Bowing 140

  • DAVID MANNES The Philosophy ofViolin Teaching 146

    TIVADAR NACH Joachim andLnard as Teachers 160

    MAXIMILIAN PILZER The Singing Toneand the Vibrato 177

    MAUD POWELL TechnicalDifficulties: Some Hints forthe Concert Player 183

    LEON SAMETINI Harmonics 198

    ALEXANDER SASLAVSKY What theTeacher Can and Cannot Do 210

    TOSCHA SEIDEL How to Study 219

  • EDMUND SEVERN The JoachimBowing and Others: The LeftHand 227

    ALBERT SPALDING The MostImportant Factor in theDevelopment of an Artist 240

    THEODORE SPIERING The Applicationof Bow Exercises to theStudy of Kreutzer 247

    JACQUES THIBAUD The IdealProgram 259

    GUSTAV SAENGER The Editor as aFactor in "Violin Mastery"


  • ILLUSTRATIONS Euge Ysaye _Frontispiece_


    Leopold Auer 14

    Mischa Elman 38

    Arthur Hartmann66

    Jascha Heifetz 78

    Fritz Kreisler 100

    Franz Kneisel 110

    Adolfo Betti 128

    David Mannes146

  • Tivadar Nach 160

    Maud Powell 184

    Toscha Seidel 220

    Albert Spalding240

    Theodore Spiering248

    Jacques Thibaud260

    Gustav Saenger278




    Who is there among contemporarymasters of the violin whose name standsfor more at the present time than that of thegreat Belgian artist, his "extraordinarytemperamental power as an interpreter"enhanced by a hundred and one specialgifts of tone and technic, gifts often alludedto by his admiring colleagues? For Ysayeis the greatest exponent of that wonderfulBelgian school of violin playing which isrooted in his teachers Vieuxtemps andWieniawski, and which as Ysaye himselfsays, "during a period covering seventy

  • years reigned supreme at the_Conservatoire_ in Paris in the persons ofMassart, Remi, Marsick, and others of itsgreat interpreters."

    What most impresses one who meetsYsaye and talks with him for the first timeis the mental breadth and vision of theman; his kindness and amiability; his utterlack of small vanity. When the writer firstcalled on him in New York with a note ofintroductio from his friend and admirerAdolfo Betti, and later at Scarsdale where,in company with his friend Thibaud, hewas dividing his time between music andtennis, Ysaye made him entirely at home,and willingly talked of his art and itsideals. In reply to some questions anent hisown study years, he said:

    "Strange to say, my father was my veryfirst teacher--it is not often the case. I

  • studied with him until I went to the LieConservatory in 1867, where I won asecond prize, sharing it with Ovide Musin,for playing Viotti's 22d Concerto. Then Ihad lessons from Wieniawski in Brusselsand studied two years with Vieuxtemps inParis. Vieuxtemps was a paralytic when Icame to him; yet a wonderful teacher,though he could no longer play. And I wasalready a concertizing artist when I methim. He was a very great man, thegrandeur of whose tradition lives in thewhole 'romantic school' of violin playing.Look at his seven concertos--of course theyare written with an eye to effect, from thevirtuoso's standpoint, yet how firmly andsolidly they are built up! How interesting istheir working-out: and the orchestral scoreis far more than a mere accompaniment.As regards virtuose effect only Paganini'smusic compares with his, and Paganini, ofcourse, did not play it as it is now played.

  • In wealth of technical development, in truemusical expressiveness Vieuxtemps is amaster. A proof is the fact that his workshave endured forty to fifty years, a long lifefor compositions.

    "Joachim, Lnard, Sivori, Wieniawski--alladmired Vieuxtemps. In Paganini's andLocatelli's works the effect, comparativelyspeaking, lies in the mechanics; butVieuxtemps is the great artist who madethe instrument take the road ofromanticism which Hugo, Balzac andGauthier trod in literature. And before allthe violin was made to charm, to move,and Vieuxtemps knew it. Like Rubinstein,he held that the artist must first of all haveideas, emotional power--his technic mustbe so perfected that he does not have tothink of it! Incidentally, speaking ofschools of violin playing, I find that there isa great tendency to confuse the Belgian

  • and French. This should not be. They aredistinct, though the latter has undoubtedlybeen formed and influenced by theformer. Many of the great violin names, infact,--Vieuxtemps, Lnard*, Marsick, Remi,Parent, de Broux, Musin, Thomson,--are allBelgian."

    *Transcriber's note: Original text read"Leonard".


    Ysaye spoke of Vieuxtemps'srepertory--only he did not call it that: hespoke of the Vieuxtemps compositions andof Vieuxtemps himself. "Vieuxtemps wrotein the grand style; his music is always richand sonorous. If his violin is really tosound, the violinist must play Vieuxtemps,just as the 'cellist plays Servais. You know,

  • in the Catholic Church, at Vespers,whenever God's name is spoken, we bowthe head. And Wieniawski would alwaysbow his head when he said: 'Vieuxtemps isthe master of us all!'

    "I have often played his _Fifth Concerto_,so warm, brilliant and replete withtemperament, always full-sounding, rich inan almost unbounded strength. Of course,since Vieuxtemps wrote his concertos, agreat variety of fine modern works hasappeared, the appreciation ofchamber-music has grown and developed,and with it that of the sonata. And themodern violin sonata is also a vehicle forviolin virtuosity in the very best meaningof the word. The sonatas of Car Franck,d'Indy, Thdore Dubois, Lekeu, Vierne,Ropartz, Lazarri--they are all highlyexpressive, yet at the same time virtuose.The violin parts develop a lovely song line,

  • yet their technic is far from simple. TakeLekeu's splendid Sonata in G major;rugged and massive, making decidedtechnical demands--it yet has a wonderfulbreadth of melody, a great expressivequality of song."

    These works--those who have heard theMaster play the beautiful Lazarri sonatathis season will not soon forget it--are alldedicated to Ysaye. And this holds good,too, of the Car Franck sonata. As Ysayesays: "Performances of these great sonatascall for _two_ artists--for their piano partsare sometimes very elaborate. CarFranck sent me his sonata on September26, 1886, my wedding day--it was hiswedding present! I cannot complain asregards the number of works, reallyimportant works, inscribed to me. Thereare so many--by Chausson (hissymphony), Ropartz, Dubois (his

  • sonata--one of the best after Franck),d'Indy (the _Istar_ variations and otherworks), Gabriel Faur(the Quintet),Debussy (the Quartet)! There are morethan I can recall at the moment--violinsonatas, symphonic music,chamber-music, choral works,compositions of every kind!

    "Debussy, as you know, wrote practicallynothing originally for the violin andpiano--with the exception, perhaps, of awork published by Durand during his lastillness. Yet he came very near writingsomething for me. Fifteen years ago hetold me he was composing a 'Nocturne' forme. I went off on a concert tour and wasaway a long time. When I returned to ParisI wrote to Debussy to find out what hadbecome of my 'Nocturne.' And he repliedthat, somehow, it had shaped itself up fororchestra instead of a violin solo. It is one

  • of the _Trois Nocturnes_ for orchestra.Perhaps one reason why so much has beeninscribed to me is the fact that as aninterpreting artist, I have never cultivateda 'specialty.' I have played everything fromBach to Debussy, for real art should beinternational!"

    Ysaye himself has an almost marvelousright-arm and fingerboard control, whichenables him to produce at will the finestand most subtle tonal nuances in allbowings. Then, too, he overcomes themost intricate mechanical problems withseemingly effortless ease. And his tone haswell been called "golden." His owndefinition of tone is worth recording. Hesays it should be "In music what the heartsuggests, and the soul expresses!"



    "With regard to mechanism," Ysayecontinued, "at the present day the tools ofviolin mastery, of expression, technic,mechanism, are far more necessary than indays gone by. In fact they areindispensable, if the spirit is to expressitself without restraint. And the greatermechanical command one has the lessnoticeable it becomes. All that suggestseffort, awkwardness, difficulty, repels thelistener, who more than anything elsedelights in a singing violin tone.Vieuxtemps often said: _Pas de trait pourle trait--chantez, chantez_! (Not runs for thesake of runs--sing, sing!)

    "Too many of the technicians of the presentday no longer sing. Their difficulties--theysurmount them more or less happily; butthe effect is too apparent, and though, at

  • times, the listener may be astonished, hecan never be charmed. Agile fingers, sureof themselves, and a perfect bow strokeare essentials; and they must besupremely able to carry along the rhythmand poetic action the artist desires.Mechanism becomes, if anything, moreaccessible in proportion as its domain isenriched by new formulas. The violinist ofto-day commands far greater technicalresources than did his predecessors.Paganini is accessible to nearly all players:Vieuxtemps no longer offers the difficultieshe did thirty years ago. Yet thewood-wind, brass and even the stringinstruments subsist in a measure on theheritage transmitted by the masters of thepast. I often feel that violin teaching to-dayendeavors to develop the esthetic sense attoo early a stage. And in devoting itself tothe _head_ it forgets the _hands_, with theresult that the young soldiers of the

  • violinistic army, full of ardor and courage,are ill equipped for the great battle of art.

    "In this connection there exists anexcellent set of _udes-Caprices_ by E.Chaumont, which offer the advancedstudent new elements and formulas ofdevelopment. Though in some of them 'theframe is too large for the picture,' andthough difficult from a violinistic point ofview, 'they lie admirably well up the neck,'to use one of Vieuxtemps's expressions,and I take pleasure in calling attention tothem.

    "When I said that the string instruments,including the violin, subsist in a measureon the heritage transmitted by the mastersof the past, I spoke with special regard totechnic. Since Vieuxtemps there has beenhardly one new passage written for theviolin; and this has retarded the

  • development of its technic. In the case ofthe piano, men like Godowsky havecreated a new technic for their instrument;but although Saint-Sas, Bruch, Lalo andothers have in their works endowed theviolin with much beautiful music, musicitself was their first concern, and not musicfor the violin. There are no more concertoswritten for the solo flute, trombone,etc.--as a result there is no new technicalmaterial added to the resources of theseinstruments.

    "In a way the same holds good of theviolin--new works conceived only from themusical point of view bring about thestagnation of technical discovery, theinvention of new passages, of novelharmonic wealth of combination is notencouraged. And a violinist owes it tohimself to exploit the great possibilities ofhis own instrument. I have tried to find new

  • technical ways and means of expression inmy own compositions. For example, I havewritten a _Divertiment_ for violin andorchestra in which I believe I haveembodied new thoughts and ideas, andhave attempted to give violin technic abroader scope of life and vigor.

    "In the days of Viotti and Rode theharmonic possibilities were morelimited--they had only a few chords, andhardly any chords of the ninth. But nowharmonic material for the development ofa new violin technic is there: I have someviolin studies, in ms., which I may publishsome day, devoted to that end. I am alwayssomewhat hesitant about publishing--thereare many things I might publish, but I haveseen so much brought out that was banal,poor, unworthy, that I have always beeninclined to mistrust the value of my owncreations rather than fall into the same

  • error. We have the scale of Debussy andhis successors to draw upon, their newchords and successions of fourths andfifths--for new technical formulas arealways evolved out of and follow after newharmonic discoveries--though there is asyet no violin method which gives afingering for the whole-tone scale. Perhapswe will have to wait until Kreisler or I willhave written one which makes plain thenew flowering of technical beauty andesthetic development which it brings theviolin.

    "As to teaching violin, I have never taughtviolin in the generally accepted sense ofthe phrase. But at Godinne, where I usuallyspent my summers when in Europe, I gavea kind of traditional course in the works ofVieuxtemps, Wieniawski and othermasters to some forty or fiftyartist-students who would gather

  • there--the same course I look forward togiving in Cincinnati, to a master class ofvery advanced pupils. This was and will bea labor of love, for the compositions ofVieuxtemps and Wieniawski especiallyare so inspiring and yet, as a rule, they areso badly played--without grandeur orbeauty, with no thought of the traditionalinterpretation--that they seem thepiecework of technic factories!


    "When I take the whole history of the violininto account I feel that the true inwardnessof 'Violin Mastery' is best expressed by akind of threefold group of great artists.First, in the order of romantic expression,we have a trinity made up of Corelli, Viottiand Vieuxtemps. Then there is a trinity ofmechanical perfection, composed of

  • Locatelli, Tartini and Paganini or, a moremodern equivalent, Car Thomson,Kubelik and Burmeister. And, finally, whatI might call in the order of lyricexpression, a quartet comprising Ysaye,Thibaud, Mischa Elman and Sametini ofChicago, the last-named a wonderfully fineartist of the lyric or singing type. Of coursethere are qualifications to be made.Locatelli was not altogether an exponent oftechnic. And many other fine artistsbesides those mentioned share thecharacteristics of those in the variousgroups. Yet, speaking in a general way, Ibelieve that these groups of attainmentmight be said to sum up what 'ViolinMastery' really is. And a violin master? Hemust be a violinist, a thinker, a poet, ahuman being, he must have known hope,love, passion and despair, he must haverun the gamut of the emotions in order toexpress them all in his playing. He must

  • play his violin as Pan played his flute!"

    In conclusion Ysaye sounded a note ofwarning for the too ambitious youngstudent and player. "If Art is to progress,the technical and mechanical element mustnot, of course, be neglected. But a boy ofeighteen cannot expect to express that towhich the serious student of thirty, the manwho has actually lived, can give voice. Ifthe violinist's art is truly a great art, itcannot come to fruition in the artist's 'teens.His accomplishment then is no more than apromise--a promise which finds itsrealization in and by life itself. YetAmericans have the brains as well as thespiritual endowment necessary tounderstand and appreciate beauty in ahigh degree. They can already point withpride to violinists who emphaticallydeserve to be called artists, and anotherquarter-century of artistic striving may

  • well bring them into the front rank ofviolinistic achievement!"

  • II



    When that celebrated laboratory ofbudding musical genius, the PetrogradConservatory, closed its doors indefinitelyowing to the disturbed political conditionsof Russia, the famous violinist and teacherProfessor Leopold Auer decided to pay thevisit to the United States which had sorepeatedly been urged on him by hisfriends and pupils. His fame, owing to suchheralds as Efrem Zimbalist, Mischa Elman,Kathleen Parlow, Eddy Brown, FrancisMacMillan, and more recently SaschaHeifetz, Toscha Seidel, and Max Rosen,

  • had long since preceded him; and thereception accorded him in this country, asa soloist and one of the greatest exponentsand teachers of his instrument, has beenone justly due to his authority andpreinence.

    It was not easy to have a heart-to-heart talkwith the Master anent his art, since everyminute of his time was precious. Yetushered into his presence, the writerdiscovered that he had laid aside for themoment other preoccupations, and wasamiably responsive to all questions, oncetheir object had been disclosed. Naturally,the first and burning question in the caseof so celebrated a pedagogue was: "Howdo you form such wonderful artists? Whatis the secret of your method?"

    [Illustration: LEOPOLD AUER, withhand-written note]


    "I know," said Professor Auer, "that there isa theory somewhat to the effect that I makea few magic passes with the bow by way ofillustration and--_presto_--you have aZimbalist or a Heifetz! But the truth is Ihave no method--unless you want to callpurely natural lines of development, basedon natural principles, a method--and so, ofcourse, there is no secret about myteaching. The one great point I lay stresson in teaching is never to kill theindividuality of my various pupils. Eachpupil has his own inborn aptitudes, hisown personal qualities as regards tone andinterpretation. I always have made anindividual study of each pupil, and giveneach pupil individual treatment. And

  • always, always I have encouraged them todevelop freely in their own way as regardsinspiration and ideals, so long as this wasnot contrary to esthetic principles andthose of my art. My idea has always beento help bring out what nature has alreadygiven, rather than to use dogma to force astudent's natural inclinations into channelsI myself might prefer. And another greatprinciple in my teaching, one which isproductive of results, is to demand asmuch as possible of the pupil. Then he willgive you something!

    "Of course the whole subject of violinteaching is one that I look at from thestandpoint of the teacher who tries to makewhat is already excellent perfect from themusical and artistic standpoint. I insist on aperfected technical development in everypupil who comes to me. Art begins wheretechnic ends. There can be no real art

  • development before one's technic is firmlyestablished. And a great deal of technicalwork has to be done before the greatworks of violin literature, the sonatas andconcertos, may be approached. InPetrograd my own assistants, who werefamiliar with my ideas, prepared my pupilsfor me. And in my own experience I havefound that one cannot teach by word, bythe spoken explanation, alone. If I have apoint to make I explain it; but if myexplanation fails to explain I take my violinand bow, and clear up the matter beyondany doubt. The word lives, it is true, butoften the word must be materialized byaction so that its meaning is clear. Thereare always things which the pupil must beshown literally, though explanation shouldalways supplement illustration. I studiedwith Joachim as a boy of sixteen--it wasbefore 1866, when there was still akingdom of Hanover in existence--and

  • Joachim always illustrated his meaningwith bow and fiddle. But he neverexplained the technical side of what heillustrated. Those more advancedunderstood without verbal comment; yetthere were some who did not.

    "As regards the theory that you can tellwho a violinist's teacher is by the way inwhich he plays, I do not believe in it. I donot believe that you can tell an Auer pupilby the manner in which he plays. And I amproud of it since it shows that my pupilshave profited by my encouragement ofindividual development, and that theybecome genuine artists, each with apersonality of his own, instead of violinisticautomats, all bearing a marked familyresemblance."

    Questioned as to how his various pupilsreflected different phases of his teaching

  • ideals, Professor Auer mentioned that hehad long since given over passing finaldecisions on his pupils. "I could expressno such opinions without unconsciouslyimplying comparisons. And so fewcomparisons really compare! Then, too,mine would be merely an individualopinion. Therefore, as has been my customfor years, I will continue to leave anyultimate decisions regarding my pupils'playing to the public and the press."


    "How long should the advanced pupilpractice?" Professor Auer was asked. "Theright kind of practice is not a matter ofhours," he replied. "Practice shouldrepresent the utmost concentration ofbrain. It is better to play withconcentration for two hours than to

  • practice eight without. I should say thatfour hours would be a good maximumpractice time--I never ask more of mypupils--and that during each minute of thetime the brain be as active as the fingers.


    "I think there is more value in the idea of anational conservatory than in the idea ofnationality as regards violin playing. Nomatter what his birthplace, there is onlyone way in which a student can become anartist--and that is to have a teacher whocan teach! In Europe the best teachers areto be found in the great nationalconservatories. Thibaud, Ysaye--artists ofthe highest type--are products of theconservatory system, with its splendidteachers. So is Kreisler, one of the greatest

  • artists, who studied in Vienna and Paris.Eddy Brown, the brilliant Americanviolinist, finished at the BudapestConservatory. In the Paris Conservatorythe number of pupils in a class is strictlylimited; and from these pupils eachprofessor chooses the very best--who maynot be able to pay for their course--for freeinstruction. At the Petrograd Conservatory,where Wieniawski preceded me, therewere hundreds of free scholarshipsavailable. If a really big talent came alonghe always had his opportunity. We tookand taught those less talented at theConservatory in order to be able to givescholarships to the deserving of limitedmeans. In this way no real violinisticgenius, whom poverty might otherwisehave kept from ever realizing his dreams,was deprived of his chance in life. Amongthe pupils there in my class, havingscholarships, were Kathleen Parlow,

  • Elman, Zimbalist, Heifetz and Seidel.


    "Violin mastery? To me it represents thesum total of accomplishment on the part ofthose who live in the history of the Art. Allthose who may have died long since, yetthe memory of whose work and whosecreations still lives, are the true masters ofthe violin, and its mastery is the record oftheir accomplishment. As a child Iremember the well-known composers ofthe day were Marschner, Hiller, Nicolaiand others--yet most of what they havewritten has been forgotten. On the otherhand there are Tartini, Nardini, Paganini,Kreutzer, Dont and Rode--they still live;and so do Ernst, Sarasate, Vieuxtemps andWieniawski. Joachim (incidentally the onlygreat German violinist of whom I

  • know--and he was a Hungarian!), thoughhe had but few great pupils, andcomposed but little, will always beremembered because he, together withDavid, gave violin virtuosity a noblertrend, and introduced a higher ideal in themusic played for violin. It is men such asthese who always will remain violin'masters,' just as 'violin mastery' is definedby what they have done."


    Replying to a question as to the value ofthe Bach violin sonatas, Professor Auersaid: "My pupils always have to play Bach.I have published my own revision of themwith a New York house. The mostimpressive thing about these Bach solosonatas is they do not need an

  • accompaniment: one feels it would besuperfluous. Bach composed so rapidly, hewrote with such ease, that it would havebeen no trouble for him to supply one hadhe felt it necessary. But he did not, and hewas right. And they still must be played ashe has written them. We have the 'modern'orchestra, the 'modern' piano, but, thankheaven, no 'modern' violin! Suchindications as I have made in my editionwith regard to bowing, fingering,_nuances_ of expression, are more or lessin accord with the spirit of the times; butnot a single note that Bach has written hasbeen changed. The sonatas are technicallyamong the most difficult things written forthe violin, excepting Ernst and Paganini.Not that they are hard in a modern way:Bach knew nothing of harmonics,_pizzicati_, scales in octaves and tenths.But his counterpoint, his fugues--to playthem well when the principal theme is

  • sometimes in the outer voices, sometimesin the inner voices, or moving from one tothe other--is supremely difficult! In the lastsonatas there is a larger number of smallmovements--- but this does not make themany easier to play.

    "I have also edited the Beethoven sonatastogether with Rudolph Ganz. He worked atthe piano parts in New York, while Istudied and revised the violin parts inPetrograd and Norway, where I spent mysummers during the war. There was not somuch to do," said Professor Auermodestly, "a little fingering, some bowingindications and not much else. No reviserneeds to put any indications for _nuance_and shading in Beethoven. He was quiteable to attend to all that himself. There isno composer who shows such refinementof _nuance_. You need only to take hisquartets or these same sonatas to convince

  • yourself of the fact. In my Brahms revisionsI have supplied really needed fingerings,bowings, and other indications! Importantcompositions on which I am now at workinclude Ernst's fine Concerto, Op. 23, theMozart violin concertos, and Tartini's_Trille du diable_, with a special cadenzafor my pupil, Toscha Seidel.


    "Prodigies?" said Professor Auer. "Theword 'prodigy' when applied to someyouthful artist is always used with anaccent of reproach. Public and critics areinclined to regard them with suspicion.Why? After all, the important thing is nottheir youth, but their artistry. Examine thehistory of music--you will discover that anynumber of great masters, great in thematurity of their genius, were great in its

  • infancy as well. There are Mozart,Beethoven, Liszt, Rubinstein, d'Albert,Hofmann, Scriabine, Wieniawski--theywere all 'infant prodigies,' and certainlynot in any objectionable sense. Not that Iwish to claim that every _prodigy_necessarily becomes a great master. Thatdoes not always follow. But I believe that amusical prodigy, instead of beingregarded with suspicion, has a right to belooked upon as a striking example of apronounced natural predisposition formusical art. Of course, full mentaldevelopment of artistic power must comeas a result of the maturing processes of lifeitself. But I firmly believe that everyprodigy represents a valuable musicalphenomenon, one deserving of thekeenest interest and encouragement. Itdoes not seem right to me that when the artof the prodigy is incontestably great, thatthe mere fact of his youth should serve as

  • an excuse to look upon him with prejudice,and even with a certain degree of distrust."

  • III



    Notwithstanding the fact that Eddy Brownwas born in Chicago, Ill., and that he is sogreat a favorite with concert audiences inthe land of his birth, the gifted violinisthesitates to qualify himself as a strictly"American" violinist. As he expresses it:"Musically I was altogether educated inEurope--I never studied here, because Ileft this country at the age of seven, andonly returned a few years ago. So I wouldnot like to be placed in the position ofclaiming anything under false pretenses!


    "With whom did I study? With two famousmasters; by a strange coincidence bothHungarians. First with JenHubay, at theNational Academy of Music in Budapest,later with Leopold Auer in Petrograd.Hubay had been a pupil of Vieuxtemps inBrussels, and is a justly celebratedteacher, very thorough and painstaking inexplaining to his pupils how to do things;but the great difference between Hubayand Auer is that while Hubay tells a studenthow to do things, Auer, a temperamentalteacher, literally drags out of him whateverthere is in him, awakening latent powershe never knew he possessed. Hubay is asplendid builder of virtuosity, and has afine sense for phrasing. For a year and a

  • half I worked at nothing but studies withhim, giving special attention to technic. Hedid not believe in giving too much time toleft hand development, when withoutadequate bow technic finger facility isuseless. Here he was in accord with Auer,in fact with every teacher seriouslydeserving of the name. Hubay was afirst-class pedagog, and under hisinstruction one could not help becoming awell-balanced and musicianly player. Butthere is a higher ideal in violin playingthan mere correctness, and Auer is aninspiring teacher. Hubay has written someadmirable studies, notably twelve studiesfor the right hand, though he neverstressed technic too greatly. On the otherhand, Auer's most notable contributions toviolin literature are his revisions of suchworks as the Bach sonatas, theTschaikovsky Concerto, etc. In a way itpoints the difference in their mental

  • attitude: Hubay more concerned with thetechnical educational means, one whichcannot be overlooked; Auer moreinterested in the interpretative, artisticeducational end, which has alwaysclaimed his attention. Hubay personallywas a _grand seigneur_, amulti-millionaire, and married to anHungarian countess. He had a fine ear forphrasing, could improvise most interestingviolin accompaniments to whatever hispupils played, and beside Rode, Kreutzerand Fiorillo I studied the concertos andother repertory works with him. Thenthere were the conservatory lessons!Attendance at a European conservatory isvery broadening musically. Not only doesthe individual violin pupil, for example,profit by listening to his colleagues play inclass: he also studies theory, musicalhistory, the piano, _ensemble_ playing,chamber-music and orchestra. I was

  • concertmaster of the conservatoryorchestra while studying with Hubay.There should be a national conservatory ofmusic in this country; music in generalwould advance more rapidly. And it wouldhelp teach American students to approachthe art of violin playing from the right pointof view. As it is, too many want to studyabroad under some renowned teacher not,primarily, with the idea of becoming greatartists; but in the hope of drawing greatfuture commercial dividends from aninitial financial investment. In Art thefinancial should always be a secondaryconsideration.

    "It stands to reason that no matter howgreat a student's gifts may be, he can profitby study with a great teacher. This, I think,applies to all. After I had already appearedin concert at Albert Hall, London, in 1909,where I played the Beethoven Concerto

  • with orchestra, I decided to study withAuer. When I first came to him he wantedto know why I did so, and after hearing meplay, told me that I did not need anylessons from him. But I knew that there wasa certain 'something' which I wished to addto my violinistic make-up, and instinctivelyfelt that he alone could give me what Iwanted. I soon found that in manyessentials his ideas coincided with those ofHubay. But I also discovered that Auermade me develop my individualityunconsciously, placing no unduerestrictions whatsoever upon my mannerof expression, barring, of course,unmusicianly tendencies. When he has areally talented pupil the Professor giveshim of his best. I never gave a thought totechnic while I studied with him--the greatthings were a singing tone, bowing,interpretation! I studied Brahms andBeethoven, and though Hubay always

  • finished with the Bach sonatas, I studiedthem again carefully with Auer.


    "At the bottom of all technic lies the scale.And scale practice is the ladder by meansof which all must climb to higherproficiency. Scales, in single tones andintervals, thirds, sixths, octaves, tenths,with the incidental changes of position, arethe foundation of technic. They should bepracticed slowly, always with thedevelopment of tone in mind, and not toolong a time at any one session. No one canlay claim to a perfected technic who hasnot mastered the scale. Better a good tone,even though a hundred mistakes be madein producing it, than a tone that is poor,thin and without quality. I find the Singer

  • _Fingerbungen_ are excellent formuscular development in scale work, forimparting the great strength which isnecessary for the fingers to have; and theKreutzer _udes_ are indispensable. Tosecure an absolute _legato_ tone, a truesinging tone on the violin, one should playscales with a perfectly well sustained andsteady bow, in whole notes, slowly and_mezzo-forte_, taking care that each noteis clear and pure, and that its volume doesnot vary during the stroke. The quality oftone must be equalized, and each wholenote should be 'sung' with a single bowing.The change from up-bow to down-bow and_vice versa_ should be made without abreak, exclusively through skillfulmanipulation of the wrist. To accomplishthis unbroken change of bow one shouldcultivate a loose wrist, and do special workat the extreme ends, nut and tip.

  • "The _vibrato_ is a great tone beautifier.Too rapid or too slow a _vibrato_ defeatsthe object desired. There is a happymedium of _tempo_, rather faster thanslower, which gives the best results. CarlFlesch has some interesting theories aboutvibration which are worth investigating. Aslow and a moderately rapid _vibrato,from the wrist_, is best for practice, andthe underlying idea while working must betone, and not fingerwork.

    _Staccato_ is one of the less importantbranches of bow technic. There is a knackin doing it, and it is purely pyrotechnical._Staccato_ passages in quantity are only tobe found in solos of the virtuoso type. Onenever meets with extended _staccato_passages in Beethoven, Brahms, Bruch orLalo. And the Saint-Sas's violin concerto,if I remember rightly, contains but a single_staccato_ passage.

  • "_Spiccato_ is a very different matter from_staccato_: violinists as a rule use themiddle of the bow for _spiccato_: I use theupper third of the bow, and thus get mostsatisfactory results, in no matter what_tempo_. This question as to what portionof the bow to use for _spiccato_ eachviolinist must decide for himself, however,through experiment. I have tried bothways and find that by the last mentioneduse of the bow I secure quicker, cleanerresults. Students while practicing thisbowing should take care that the wrist, andnever the arm, be used. Hubay has writtensome very excellent studies for this form of'springing bow.'

    "The trill, when it rolls quickly and evenly,is a trill indeed! I never had any difficultyin acquiring it, and can keep on trillingindefinitely without the slightest

  • unevenness or slackening of speed. Auerhimself has assured me that I have a trillthat runs on and on without a sign offatigue or uncertainty. The trill has to bepracticed very slowly at first, later withincreasing rapidity, and always with a firmpressure of the fingers. It is a verybeautiful embellishment, and one muchused; one finds it in Beethoven,Mendelssohn, Brahms, etc.

    "Double notes never seemed hard to me,but harmonics are not as easily acquiredas some of the other violin effects. I advisepressing down the first finger on thestrings _inordinately_, especially in thehigher positions, when playing artificialharmonics. The higher the fingers ascendon the strings, the more firmly they shouldpress them, otherwise the harmonics areapt to grow shrill and lose in clearness.The majority of students have trouble with

  • their harmonics, because they do notpractice them in this way. Of course thequality of the harmonics produced varieswith the quality of the strings that producethem. First class strings are an absolutenecessity for the production of pureharmonics. Yet in the case of the artist, hehimself is held responsible, and not hisstrings.

    "Octaves? Occasionally, as in Auer'stranscript of Beethoven's _Dance of theDervishes_, or in the closing section of theErnst Concerto, when they are used toobtain a certain weird effect, they soundwell. But ordinarily, if cleanly played, theysound like one-note successions. In theexamples mentioned, the so-called'fingered octaves,' which are very difficult,are employed. Ordinary octaves are not sotroublesome. After all, in octave playingwe simply double the notes for the

  • purpose of making them more powerful.

    "As regards the playing of tenths, it seemsto me that the interval always soundsconstrained, and hardly ever euphoniousenough to justify its difficulty, especially inrapid passages. Yet Paganini used thisawkward interval very freely in hiscompositions, and one of his 'Caprices' is avariation in tenths, which should be playedmore often than it is, as it is very effective.In this connection change of position,which I have already touched on withregard to scale playing, should be sosmooth that it escapes notice. Amongspecial effects the _glissando_ is reallybeautiful when properly done. And thiscalls for judgment. It might be added,though, that the _glissando_ is an effectwhich should not be overdone. The_portamento_--gliding from one note toanother--is also a lovely effect. Its proper

  • and timely application calls for goodjudgment and sound musical taste.


    "I usually play a 'Strad,' but very often turnto my beautiful 'Guillami,'" said Mr. Brownwhen asked about his violins. "It is an oldSpanish violin, made in Barcelona, in 1728,with a tone that has a distinct Stradivariuscharacter. In appearance it closelyresembles a Guadagnini, and has oftenbeen taken for one. When the dealer ofwhom I bought it first showed it to me itwas complete--but in four distinct pieces!Kubelik, who was in Budapest at the time,heard of it and wanted to buy it; but thedealer, as was only right, did not forgetthat my offer represented a prior claim,and so I secured it. The Guadagnini, whichI have played in all my concerts here, I am

  • very fond of--it has a Stradivarius tonerather than the one we usually associatewith the make." Mr. Brown showed thewriter his Grancino, a beautiful littleinstrument about to be sent to the repairshop, since exposure to the dampatmosphere of the sea-shore had openedits seams--and the rare and valuable Simonbow, now his, which had once been theproperty of Sivori. Mr. Brown has used awire E ever since he broke six gut stringsin one hour while at Seal Harbor, Maine. "Awire string, I find, is not only easier toplay, but it has a more brilliant quality oftone than a gut string; and I am now soaccustomed to using a wire E, that I wouldfeel ill at ease if I did not have one on myinstrument. Contrary to general belief, itdoes not sound 'metallic,' unless the stringitself is of very poor quality.


    "In making up a recital program I try toarrange it so that the first half,approximately, may appeal to the morespecifically musical part of my audience,and to the critics. In the second half Iendeavor to remember the general public;at the same time being careful to includenothing which is not really _musical_. This(Mr. Brown found one of his recentprograms on his desk and handed it to me)represents a logical compromise betweenthe strictly artistic and the more generaltaste:"


    I. Beethoven . . . . . Sonata Op. 47(dedicated to Kreutzer)

  • II. Bruch . . . . . . Concerto (G minor)

    III. (a) Beethoven . . . . Romance (in Gmajor) (b) Beethoven-Auer . .Chorus of the Dervishes (c) Brown . .. . . Rondino (on a Cramer theme)(d) Arbos . . . . . Tango

    IV. (a) Kreisler . . . . La Gitana(Arabo-Spanish Gipsy Dance of the 18thCentury) (b) Cui . . . . . . Orientale (c) Bazzini. . . . . La Ronde des Lutins

    "As you see there are two extendedserious works, followed by two smaller'groups' of pieces. And these have alsobeen chosen with a view to contrast. The_finale_ of the Bruch concerto is an_allegro energico_: I follow it with aBeethoven _Romance_, a slow movement.The second group begins with a taking

  • Kreisler novelty, which is succeeded byanother slow number; but one veryeffective in its working-up; and I end myprogram with a brilliant virtuoso number.


    "My own personal conception of violinmastery," concluded Mr. Brown, "might bedefined as follows: 'An individual toneproduction, or rather tone quality,consummate musicianship in phrasing andinterpretation, ability to rise above allmechanical and intellectual effort, andfinally the power to express that which isdictated by one's imagination and emotion,with the same natural simplicity andspontaneity with which the thought of areally great orator is expressed in theeasy, unconstrained flow of his language.'"

  • IV



    To hear Mischa Elman on the concertplatform, to listen to him play, "with all thatwealth of tone, emotion and impulse whichplaces him in the very foremost rank ofliving violinists," should be joy enough forany music lover. To talk with him in hisown home, however, gives one a deeperinsight into his art as an interpreter; and inthe pleasant intimacy of familiarconversation the writer learned much thatthe serious student of the violin will beinterested in knowing.

  • [Illustration: MISCHA ELMAN, withhand-written note]


    We all know that Elman, when he plays inpublic, moves his head, moves his body,sways in time to the music; in a word thereare certain mannerisms associated with hisplaying which critics have on occasionmentioned with grave suspicion, asevidences of sensationalism. Half fearingto insult him by asking whether he was"sincere," or whether his motions were"stage business" carefully rehearsed, ashad been implied, I still ventured thequestion. He laughed boyishly and wasevidently much amused.

  • "No, no," he said. "I do not study up any'stage business' to help out my playing! Ido not know whether I ought to comparemyself to a dancer, but the appeal of thedance is in all musical movement. Certainrhythms and musical combinations affectme subconsciously. I suppose the directinfluence of the music on me is such thatthere is a sort of emotional reflex: I movewith the music in an unconscioustranslation of it into gesture. It is all soindividual. The French violinists as a ruleplay very correctly in public, keepingtheir eye on finger and bow. And thisappeals to me strongly in theory. Inpractice I seem to get away from it. It is amatter of temperament I presume. I amwilling to believe I'm not graceful, butthen--I do not know whether I move or donot move! Some of my friends have spokenof it to me at various times, so I suppose Ido move, and sway and all the rest; but

  • any movements of the sort must beunconscious, for I myself know nothing ofthem. And the idea that they are 'prepared'as 'stage effects' is delightful!" And againElman laughed.


    "For that matter," he continued, "every realartist has some mannerisms when playing,I imagine. Yet more than mannerisms areneeded to impress an American audience.Life and color in interpretation are the truesecrets of great art. And beauty ofinterpretation depends, first of all, onvariety of color. Technic is, after all, onlysecondary. No matter how well played acomposition be, its performance musthave color, _nuance_, movement, life!Each emotional mood of the moment must

  • be fully expressed, and if it is its appeal issure. I remember when I once played forDon Manuel, the young ex-king ofPortugal, in London, I had an illustration ofthe fact. He was just a pathetic boy, verydemocratic, and personally very likable.He was somewhat neglected at the time,for it is well known and not altogetherunnatural, that royalty securelyestablished finds 'kings in exile' a bitembarrassing. Don Manuel was amusic-lover, and especially fond of Bach. Ihad had long talks with the young king atvarious times, and my sympathies hadbeen aroused in his behalf. On the eveningof which I speak I played a Chopin_Nocturne_, and I know that into myplaying there went some of my feeling forthe pathos of the situation of this youngstranger in a strange land, of my own age,eating the bitter bread of exile. When Ihad finished, the Marchioness of Ripon

  • touched my arm: 'Look at the King!' shewhispered. Don Manuel had been movedto tears.

    "Of course the purely mechanical mustalways be dominated by the artisticpersonality of the player. Yet technic isalso an important part of interpretation:knowing exactly how long to hold a bow,the most delicate inflections of its pressureon the strings. There must be perfectsympathy also with the composer'sthought; his spirit must stand behind thepersonality of the artist. In the case ofcertain famous compositions, like theBeethoven concerto, for instance, this is sowell established that the artist, and neverthe composer, is held responsible if it isnot well played. But too rigorous anadherence to 'tradition' in playing is alsoan extreme. I once played privately forJoachim in Berlin: it was the Bach

  • _Chaconne_. Now the edition I used was astandard one: and Joachim was extremelyreverential as regards traditions. Yet hedid not hesitate to indicate some changeswhich he thought should be made in theversion of an authoritative edition,because 'they sounded better.' And 'Howdoes it sound?' is really the true test of allinterpretation."


    "What is the fundamental of a perfectedviolin technic?" was a natural question atthis point. "Absolute pitch, first of all,"replied Elman promptly. "Many a violinistplays a difficult passage, sounding everynote; and yet it sounds out of tune. The firstand second movements of the Beethoven

  • concerto have no double-stops; yet theyare extremely difficult to play. Why?Because they call for absolute pitch: theymust be played in perfect tune so that eachtone stands out in all its fullness and claritylike a rock in the sea. And without afundamental control of pitch such a masterwork will always be beyond the violinist'sreach. Many a player has the facility; butwithout perfect intonation he can neverattain the highest perfection. On the otherhand, any one who can play a singlephrase in absolute pitch has the first andgreat essential. Few artists, not barringsome of the greatest, play with perfectintonation. Its control depends first of allon the ear. And a sensitive ear findsdifferences and shading; it bids theviolinist play a trifle sharper, a trifle flatter,according to the general harmonic color ofthe accompaniment; it leads him toobserve a difference, when the harmonic

  • atmosphere demands it, between a Csharp in the key of E major and a D flat inthe same key.


    "Every player finds some phases of techniceasy and others difficult. For instance, Ihave never had to work hard for quality oftone--when I wish to get certain coloreffects they come: I have no difficulty inexpressing my feelings, my emotions intone. And in a technical way _spiccato_bowing, which many find so hard, hasalways been easy to me. I have never hadto work for it. Double-stops, on thecontrary, cost me hours of intensive workbefore I played them with ease andfacility. What did I practice? Scales indouble-stops--they give color and varietyto tone. And I gave up a certain portion of

  • my regular practice time to passages fromconcertos and sonatas. There is wonderfulwork in double-stops in the Ernst concertoand in the Paganini _udes_, for instance.With octaves and tenths I have never hadany trouble: I have a broad hand and awide stretch, which accounts for it, Isuppose.

    "Then there are harmonics, flageolets--I,have never been able to understand whythey should be considered so difficult!They should not be white, colorless; butcall for just as much color as any othertones (and any one who has heard MischaElman play harmonics knows that this is nomere theory on his part). I never think ofharmonics as 'harmonics,' but try to givethem just as much expressive quality asthe notes of any other register. The mentalattitude should influence theirproduction--too many violinists think of

  • them only as incidental to pyrotechnicaldisplay.

    "And fingering? Fingering in generalseems to me to be an individual matter. Aconcert artist may use a certain fingeringfor a certain passage which no pupilshould use, and be entirely justified if hecan thus secure a certain effect.

    "I do not--speaking out of my ownexperience--believe much in methods:and never to the extent that they beallowed to kill the student's individuality. Aclear, clean tone should always be theideal of his striving. And to that end hemust see that the up and down bows in apassage like the following from the Bachsonata in A minor (and Mr. Elman hastilyjotted down the subjoined) are absolutely

    [Illustration: Musical Notation]

  • even, and of the same length, played withthe same strength and length of bow,otherwise the notes are swallowed. In light_spiccato_ and _staccato_ the detachednotes should be played always with asingle stroke of the bow. Some players,strange to say, find _staccato_ notes moredifficult to play at a moderate tempo thanfast. I believe it to be altogether a matter ofcontrol--if proper control be there thetempo makes no difference. Wieniawski, Ihave read, could only play his _staccati_ ata high rate of speed. _Spiccato_ isgenerally held to be more difficult than_staccato_; yet I myself find it easier.


    "To influence a clear, singing tone with theleft hand, to phrase it properly with the

  • bow hand, is most important. And it is amatter of proportion. Good phrasing isspoiled by an ugly tone: a beautifulsinging tone loses meaning if improperlyphrased. When the student has reached acertain point of technical development,technic must be a secondary--yet notneglected--consideration, and he shoulddevote himself to the production of a goodtone. Many violinists have missed theircareer by exaggerated attention to eitherbow or violin hand. Both hands must bewatched at the same time. And thequestion of proportion should always bekept in mind in practicing studies andpassages: pressure of fingers and pressureof bow must be equalized, coordinated.The teacher can only do a certain amount:the pupil must do the rest.


  • "Take Auer for example. I may call myselfthe first real exponent of his school, in thesense of making his name widely known.Auer is a great teacher, and leaves muchto the individuality of his pupils. He firstheard me play at the Imperial MusicSchool in Odessa, and took me toPetrograd to study with him, which I didfor a year and four months. And he couldaccomplish wonders! That one year he hada little group of four pupils each one betterthan the other--a very stimulating situationfor all of them. There was a magnetismabout him: he literally hypnotized hispupils into doing better than theirbest--though in some cases it was evidentthat once the support of his magneticpersonality was withdrawn, the pupil fellback into the level from which he hadbeen raised for the time being.

  • "Yet Auer respected the fact thattemperamentally I was not responsive tothis form of appeal. He gave me of his best.I never practiced more than two or threehours a day--just enough to keep fresh.Often I came to my lesson unprepared,and he would have me playthings--sonatas, concertos--which I had nottouched for a year or more. He was asevere critic, but always a just one.

    "I can recall how proud I was when he sentme to beautiful music-loving Helsingfors,in Finland--where all seems to bebloodshed and confusion now--to play arecital in his own stead on one occasion,and how proud he was of my success. YetAuer had his little peculiarities. I have readsomewhere that the great fencing-mastersof the sixteenth and seventeenth centurieswere very jealous of the secrets of theirfamous feints and _ripostes_, and only

  • confided them to favorite pupils whopromised not to reveal them. Auer had hislittle secrets, too, with which he was loth topart. When I was to make my _dut_ inBerlin, I remember, he was naturallyenough interested--since I was hispupil--in my scoring a triumph. And hedecided to part with some of his treasuredtechnical thrusts and parries. And when Iwas going over the Tschaikovsky _D minorconcerto_ (which I was to play), he wouldselect a passage and say: 'Now I'll play thisfor you. If you catch it, well and good; if notit is your own fault!' I am happy to say that Idid not fail to 'catch' his meaning on anyoccasion. Auer really has a wonderfulintellect, and some secrets well worthknowing. That he is so great an artisthimself on the instrument is the moreremarkable, since physically he was notexceptionally favored. Often, when he sawme, he'd say with a sigh: 'Ah, if I only had

  • your hand!'

    "Auer was a great virtuoso player. He helda unique place in the Imperial Ballet. Youknow in many of the celebrated ballets,Tschaikovsky's for instance, there occurbeautiful and difficult solos for the violin.They call for an artist of the first rank, andAuer was accustomed to play them inPetrograd. In Russia it was considered adecided honor to be called upon to playone of those ballet solos; but in London itwas looked on as something quiteincidental. I remember when Diaghilevpresented Tschaikovsky's _Lac desCygnes_ in London, the Grand-DukeAndrew Vladimirev (who had heard meplay), an amiable young boy, and a patronof the arts, requested me--and at that timethe request of a Romanov was stillequivalent to a command--to play theviolin solos which accompany the love

  • scenes. It was not exactly easy, since I hadto play and watch dancers and conductorat the same time. Yet it was a novelty forLondon, however; everybody was pleasedand the Grand-Duke presented me with ahandsome diamond pin as anacknowledgment.


    "You ask me what I understand by 'ViolinMastery'? Well, it seems to me that theartist who can present anything he plays asa distinct picture, in every detail, framingthe composer's idea in the perfect beautyof his plastic rendering, with absolute truthof color and proportion--he is the artistwho deserves to be called a master!

    "Of course, the instrument the artist uses isan important factor in making it possible

  • for him to do his best. My violin? It is anauthentic Strad--dated 1722. I bought it ofWilly Burmester in London. You see he didnot care much for it. The German style ofplaying is not calculated to bring out thetone beauty, the quality of the old Italianfiddles. I think Burmester had forced thetone, and it took me some time to make itmellow and truly responsive again, butnow...." Mr. Elman beamed. It was evidenthe was satisfied with his instrument. "As tostrings," he continued, "I never use wirestrings--they have no color, no quality!


    "For the advanced student there is awealth of study material. No one everwrote more beautiful violin music thanHaendel, so rich in invention, in harmonicfullness. In Beethoven there are more

  • ideas than tone--but such ideas!Schubert--all genuine, spontaneous! Bachis so gigantic that the violin often seemsinadequate to express him. That is onereason why I do not play more Bach inpublic.

    "The study of a sonata or concerto shouldentirely absorb the attention of the studentto such a degree that, as he is able to playit, it has become a part of him. He shouldbe able to play it as though it were animprovisation--of course without doingviolence to the composer's idea. If hemasters the composition in the way itshould be mastered it becomes a portionof himself. Before I even take up my violin Istudy a piece thoroughly in score. I readand reread it until I am at home with thecomposer's thought, and its musicalbalance and proportion. Then, when Ibegin to play it, its salient points are

  • already memorized, and the practicinggives me a kind of photographic reflex ofdetail. After I have not played a numberfor a long time it fades from mymemory--like an old negative--but I needonly go over it once or twice to have aclear mnemonic picture of it once more.

    "Yes, I believe in transcriptions for theviolin--with certain provisos," said Mr.Elman, in reply to another question. "Firstof all the music to be transcribed mustlend itself naturally to the instrument.Almost any really good melodic line,especially a _cantilena_, will sound with afitting harmonic development. Violinists offormer days like Spohr, Rode and Paganiniwere more intent on composing music _outof the violin_! The modern idea lays stressfirst of all on the _idea_ in music. Intranscribing I try to forget I am a violinist,in order to form a perfect picture of the

  • musical idea--its violinistic developmentmust be a natural, subconsciousworking-out. If you will look at some of myrecent transcripts--the Albaniz _Tango_,the negro melody _Deep River_ andAmani's fine _Orientale_--you will see whatI mean. They are conceived as pictures--Ihave not tried to analyze too much--andwhile so conceiving them their freeharmonic background shapes itself for mewithout strain or effort.


    "Conductors with whom I have played?There are many: Hans Richter, who was amaster of the baton; Nikisch, one of thegreatest in conducting the orchestralaccompaniment to a violin solo number;Colonne of Paris, and many others. I had

  • an amusing experience with Colonneonce. He brought his orchestra to Russiawhile I was with Auer, and was giving aconcert at Pavlovsk, a summer resort nearPetrograd. Colonne had a perfect horror of'infant prodigies,' and Auer had arrangedfor me to play with his orchestra withouttelling him my age--I was eleven at thetime. When Colonne saw me, violin inhand, ready to step on the stage, he drewhimself up and said with emphasis: 'I playwith a prodigy! Never!' Nothing couldmove him, and I had to play to a pianoaccompaniment. After he had heard meplay, though, he came over to me and said:'The best apology I can make for what Isaid is to ask you to do me the honor ofplaying with the _Orchestre Colonne_ inParis.' He was as good as his word. Fourmonths later I went to Paris and played theMendelssohn concerto for him with greatsuccess."

  • V



    Samuel Gardner, though born inJelisavetgrad, Cherson province, inSouthern Russia, in 1891, is to all intentsand purposes an American, since hisfamily, fleeing the tyranny of anImperialistic regime of "pogroms" and"Black Hundreds," brought him to thiscountry when a mere child; and here in theUnited States he has become, to quoteRichard Aldrich, "the serious andaccomplished artist," whose work on theconcert stage has given such pleasure tolovers of violin music at its best. The young

  • violinist, who in the course of the sameweek had just won two prizes incomposition--the Pulitzer Prize (Columbia)for a string quartet, and the Loeb Prize fora symphonic poem--was amiably willing totalk of his study experience for the benefitof other students.


    "I took up the study of the violin at the ageof seven, and when I was nine I went toCharles Martin Loeffler and really beganto work seriously. Loeffler was a very strictteacher and very exacting, but heachieved results, for he had a most originalway of making his points clear to thestudent. He started off with the Sevcikstudies, laying great stress on the properfinger articulation. And he taught me

  • absolute smoothness in change of positionwhen crossing the strings. For instance, inthe second book of Sevcik's 'TechnicalExercises,' in the third exercise, the bowcrosses from G to A, and from D to E,leaving a string between in each crossing.Well, I simply could not manage to get tothe second string to be played without thestring in between sounding! Loefflershowed me what every good fiddler_must_ learn to do: to leap from the end ofthe down-bow to the up-bow and _viceversa_ and then hesitate the fraction of amoment, thus securing a smooth, clean-cuttone, without any vibration of theintermediate string. Loeffler never gave apupil any rest until he came up to hisrequirements. I know when I played theseventh and eighth Kreutzer studies forhim--they are trill studies--he said: 'Youtrill like an electric bell, but not fastenough!' And he kept at me to speed up

  • my tempo without loss of clearness ortone-volume, until I could do justice to arapid trill. It is a great quality in a teacherto be literally able to _enforce_ the pupil'sprogress in certain directions; for thoughthe latter may not appreciate it at the time,later on he is sure to do so. I rememberonce when he was trying to explain theperfect _crescendo_ to me, fire-enginebells began to ring in the distance, thesound gradually drawing nearer the housein Charles Street where I was taking mylesson. 'There you have it!' Loeffler cried:'There's your ideal _crescendo_! Play itlike that and I will be satisfied!' I remainedwith Loeffler a year and a half, and whenhe went to Paris began to study with FelixWinternitz.

    "Felix Winternitz was a teacher whoallowed his pupils to developindividuality. 'I care nothing for theories,'

  • he used to say, 'so long as I can seesomething original in your work!' Heattached little importance to the theory oftechnic, but a great deal to technicaldevelopment along individual lines. Andhe always encouraged me to expressmyself freely, within my limitations,stressing the musical side of my work.With him I played through the concertoswhich, after a time, I used for technicalmaterial, since every phase of technic andbowing is covered in these great works. Iwas only fifteen when I left Winternitz andstill played by instinct rather thanintellectually. I still used my bow armsomewhat stiffly, and did not think muchabout phrasing. I instinctively phrasedwhatever the music itself made clear tome, and what I did not understand I merelyplayed.


    "But when I came to Franz Kneisel, my lastteacher, I began to work with my mind.Kneisel showed me that I had to thinkwhen I played. At first I did not realize whyhe kept at me so insistently aboutphrasing, interpretation, the exactobservance of expression marks; buteventually it dawned on me that he wasteaching me to read a soul into eachcomposition I studied.

    "I practiced hard, from four to five hours aday. Fortunately, as regards technicalequipment, I was ready for Kneisel'sinstruction. The first thing he gave me tostudy was, not a brilliant virtuoso piece,but the Bach concerto in E major, and thenthe Viotti concerto. In the beginning, untilKneisel showed me, I did not know what to

  • do with them. This was music whose notesin themselves were easy, and whosedifficulties were all of an individual order.But intellectual analysis, interpretation, areKneisel's great points. A strict teacher, Iworked with him for five years, the mostremarkable years of all my violin study.

    "Kneisel knows how to develop technicalperfection without using technicalexercises. I had already played theMendelssohn, Bruch and Lalo concertoswith Winternitz, and these I now restudiedwith Kneisel. In interpretation he makesclear every phrase in its relation to everyother phrase and the movement as awhole. And he insists on his pupilsstudying theory andcomposition--something I had formerly notbeen inclined to take seriously.

    "Some teachers are satisfied if the student

  • plays his _notes_ correctly, in a generalway. With Kneisel the very least detail, atrill, a scale, has to be given its propertone-color and dynamic shading inabsolute proportion with the balancingharmonies. This trill, in the first movementof the Beethoven concerto--(and Mr.Gardner jotted it down)

    [Illustration: Musical Notation]

    Kneisel kept me at during the entirelesson, till I was able to adjust itstone-color and _nuances_ to theaccompanying harmony. Then, thoughmany teachers do not know it, it is atradition in the orchestra to make a_diminuendo_ in the sixth measure, beforethe change of key to C major, and this_diminuendo_ should, of course, beobserved by the solo instrument as well.Yet you will hear well-known artists play

  • the trill throughout with a loud, brillianttone and no dynamic change!

    "Kneisel makes it a point to have all hispupils play chamber music because of itstruly broadening influence. And he isunexcelled in taking apart structurally theBeethoven, Brahms, Tschaikovsky andother quartets, in analyzing and explainingthe wonderful planning and building up ofeach movement. I had the honor of playingsecond violin in the Kneisel Quartet fromSeptember to February (1914-1915), at theoutbreak of the war, a most interestingexperience. The musicianship Kneisel hadgiven me; I was used to his style and athome with his ideas, and am happy tothink that he was satisfied. A year later asassistant concertmaster in the ChicagoSymphony Orchestra, I had a chance tobecome practically acquainted with theorchestral works of Strauss, d'Indy and

  • other moderns, and enjoy the Beethoven,Brahms and Tschaikovsky symphonies as aperformer.


    "How do I regard technic now? I think of itin the terms of the music itself. Musicshould dictate the technical means to beused. The composition and its phrasesshould determine bowing and the tonequality employed. One should not think ofdown-bows or up-bows. In the Brahmsconcerto you can find many long phrases:they cannot be played with one bow; yetthere must be no apparent change of bow.If the player does not know what thephrase means; how to interpret it, how willhe be able to bow it correctly?

  • "And there are so many different_nuances_, especially in _legato_. It is as arule produced by a slurred bow; yet it mayalso be produced by other bowings. Tosecure a good _legato_ tone watch thesinger. The singer can establish theperfect smoothness that _legato_ calls forto perfection. To secure a like effect theviolinist should convey the impression thatthere is no point, no frog, that the bow heuses is of indefinite length. And theviolinist should never think: 'I must playthis up-bow or down-bow.' Artists of theGerman school are more apt to begin aphrase with a down-bow; the French startplaying a good deal at the point. Up ordown, both are secondary to finding out,first of all, what quality, what balance oftone the phrase demands. The conductorof a symphonic orchestra does not carehow, technically, certain effects areproduced by the violins, whether they use

  • an up-bow or a down-bow. He merelysays: 'That's too heavy: give me less tone!'The result to be achieved is always moreimportant than the manner of achievement.

    "All phases of technical accomplishment, ifrightly acquired, tend to become secondnature to the player in the course of time:_staccato_, a brilliant trick; _spiccato_, thereiteration of notes played from the wrist,etc. The _martellato_, a _nuance_ of_spiccato_, should be played with a firmbowing at the point. In a very broad_spiccato_, the arm may be brought intoplay; but otherwise not, since it makesrapid playing impossible. Too manyamateurs try to play _spiccato_ from thearm. And too many teachers are contentedwith a trill that is merely brilliant. Kneiselinsists on what he calls a 'musical trill,' ofwhich Kreisler's beautiful trill is a perfectexample. The trill of some violinists is

  • _invariably_ brilliant, whether brilliancy isappropriate or not. Brilliant trills in Bachalways seem out of place to me; while inPaganini and in Wieniawski's _Carnaval deVenise_ a high brilliant trill is veryeffective.

    "As to double-stops--Edison once said thatviolin music should be written only indouble-stops--I practice them playing firstthe single notes and then the two together,and can recommend this mode of practicefrom personal experience. Harmonics,where clarity is the most important thing,are mainly a matter of bowing, of a sureattack and sustaining by the bow. Ofcourse the harmonics themselves aremade by the fingers; but their tone qualityrests altogether with the bow.


  • "The best thing I've ever heard said ofoctaves was Edison's remark to me that'They are merely a nuisance and shouldnot be played!' I was making some recordsfor him during the experimental stage ofthe disk record, when he was trying to getan absolutely smooth _legato_ tone, onethat conformed to Loeffler's definition of itas 'no breaks' in the tone. He had hadSchubert's _Ave Maria_ recorded byFlesch, MacMillan and others, and wantedme to play it for him. The records were allplayed for me, and whenever he came tothe octave passages Edison would say:'Listen to them! How badly they sound!' Yetthe octaves were absolutely in tune! 'Whydo they sound so badly?' I inquired.

    "Then Edison explained to me thataccording to the scientific theory ofvibration, the vibrations of the higher tone

  • of the octaves should be exactly twicethose of the lower note. 'But here,' hecontinued, 'the vibrations of the notes allvary.' 'Yet how can the player control hisfingers in the _vibrato_ beyond playing hisoctaves in perfect tune?' I asked. 'Well, ifhe cannot do so,' said Edison, 'octaves aremerely a nuisance, and should not beplayed at all.' I experimented and foundthat by simply pressing down the fingersand playing without any _vibrato_, I couldcome pretty near securing the exactrelation between the vibrations of theupper and lower notes but--they soundeddreadful! Of course, octaves sound well in_ensemble_, especially in the orchestra,because each player plays but a singlenote. And tenths sound even better thanoctaves when two people play them.


  • "You ask about my violin? It belonged tothe famous Hawley collection, and is aGiovanni Baptista Guadignini, made in1780, in Turin. The back is a single piece ofmaple-wood, having a broadish figureextending across its breadth. Themaple-wood sides match the back. The topis formed of a very choice piece of spruce,and it is varnished a deep golden-red. Ithas a remarkably fine tone, very vibrantand with great carrying power, a tone thathas all that I can ask for as regards volumeand quality.

    "I think that wire strings are largely usednow-a-days because gut strings are hardto obtain--not because they are better. I donot use wire strings. I have tried them andfind them thin in tone, or so brilliant thattheir tone is too piercing. Then, too, I findthat the use of a wire E reduces the volume

  • of tone of the other strings. No wire stringhas the quality of a fine gut string; and Iregard them only as a substitute in thecase of some people, and a conveniencefor lazy ones.


    "Violin Mastery? Off-hand I might say thephrase stands for a life-time of effort withits highest aims unattained. As I see it theachievement of violin mastery represents acombination of 90 per cent. of toil and 10per cent. of talent or inspiration.Goetschius, with whom I studiedcomposition, once said to me: 'I do notcongratulate you on having talent. That is agift. But I do congratulate you on beingable to work hard!' The same thing appliesto the fiddle. It seems to me that only bykeeping everlastingly at it can one

  • become a master of the instrument."

  • VI



    Arthur Hartmann is distinctly andunmistakably a personality. He stands outeven in that circle of distinguishedcontemporary violinists which is so largelymade up of personalities. He is acomposer--not only of violin pieces, but ofsymphonic and choral works, chambermusic, songs and piano numbers. Hiscritical analysis of Bach's _Chaconne_,translated into well-nigh every tongue, isprobably the most complete andexhaustive study of "that triumph of geniusover matter" written. And besides being amaster of his own instrument he plays the

  • _viola d'amore_, that sweet-toned survival,with sympathetic strings, of the 17thcentury viol family, and the Hungarian_czimbalom_. Nor is his mastery of thelast-named instrument "out of drawing," forwe must remember that Mr. Hartmann wasborn in MatSzalka, in Southern Hungary.Then, too, Mr. Hartmann is a genial andoriginal thinker, a _littateur_ of no meanability, a bibliophile, the intimate of thelate Claude Debussy, and of many of thegreat men of musical Europe. Yet from thereader's standpoint the interest he inspiresis, no doubt, mainly due to the fact that notonly is he a great interpreting artist--but agreat artist doubled by a great teacher, anunusual combination.

    [Illustration: _Photo by E.F. Foley, N.Y._ARTHUR HARTMANN, withhand-written note]

  • Characteristic of Mr. Hartmann'shospitality (the writer had passed apleasant hour with him some years before,but had not seen him since), was the factthat he insisted in brewing Turkish coffee,and making his caller feel quite at homebefore even allowing him to broach thesubject of his visit. And when he learnedthat its purpose was to draw on hisknowledge and experience for informationwhich would be of value to the seriousstudent and lover of his art, he did notrefuse to respond.


    "Violin playing is really no abstractmystery. It's as clear as geography in away: one might say the whole art isbounded on the South by the G string, on

  • the North by the E string, on the West bythe string hand--and that's about as far asthe comparison may be carried out. Thepoint is, there are definite boundaries,whose technical and esthetic limits may beextended, and territorial annexationsmade through brain power, mentalcontrol. To me 'Violin Mastery' meanstaking this little fiddle-box in hand [andMr. Hartmann suited action to word byraising the lid of his violin-case anddrawing forth his beautiful 1711 Strad],and doing just what I want with it. And thatmeans having the right finger on the rightplace at the right time--but don't forget thatto be able to do this you must haveforgotten to think of your fingers asfingers. They should be simplyunconscious slaves of the artist's psychicexpression, absolutely subservient to hisideal. Too many people reverse theprocess and become slaves to their

  • fingers.


    "Technic, for instance, in its mechanicalsense, is a much exaggerated microbe of_Materia musica_. All technic mustconform to its instrument.[A] The violinwas made to suit the hand, not the hand tosuit the violin, hence its technic must bebased on a natural logic of handmovement. The whole problem oftechnical control is encountered in the firstchange of position on the violin. If weviolinists could play in but one positionthere would be no technical problem. Thesolution of this problem means, speakingbroadly, the ability to play the violin--forthere is only one way of playing it--with areal, full, singing 'violin' tone. It's not aquestion of a method, but just a process

  • based on pure reason, the working out ofrational principles.

    [Footnote A: This is the idea whichunderlies my system for ear-training andabsolute pitch, "Arthur Hartmann'sSystem," as I call it, which I havepublished. A.H.]

    "What is the secret of this singing tone?Well, you may call it a secret, for many ofmy pupils have no inkling of it when theyfirst come here, though it seems very muchof an 'open secret' to me. The finishedbeauty of the violin 'voice' is a round,sustained, absolutely smooth _cantabile_tone. Now [Mr. Hartmann took up hisStrad], I'll play you the scale of G as theaverage violin student plays it. Yousee--each slide from one tone to the next, abreak--a rosary of lurches! How can therebe a round, harmonious tone when the

  • fingers progress by jerks? Shifting positionmust not be a continuous movement ofeffort, but a continuous movement in whicheffort and relaxation--that of deadweight--alternate. As an illustration, whenwe walk we do not consciously set downone foot, and then swing forward the otherfoot and leg with a jerk. The forwardmovement is smooth, unconscious,coordinated: in putting the foot forward itcarries the weight of the entire body, themovement becomes a matter of instinct.And the same applies to the progression ofthe fingers in shifting the position of thehand. Now, playing the scale as I nowdo--only two fingers should be used--

    [Illustration: Musical Notation]

    I prepare every shift. Absolute accuracy ofintonation and a singing legato is theresult. These guiding notes indicated are

  • merely a test to prove the scientificspacing of the violin; they are not soundedonce control of the hand has beenobtained. _They serve only to accustomthe fingers to keep moving in the directionin which they are going_.

    "The tone is produced by the left hand, bythe weight of the fingers plus anundercurrent of sustained effort. Now, yousee, _if in the moment of sliding youprepare the bow for the next string, theslide itself is lost in the crossing of thebow_. To carry out consistently this idea ofeffort and relaxation in the downwardprogression of the scale, you will find thatwhen you are in the third position, theposition of the hand is practically the sameas in the first position. Hence, in order togo down from third to first position with thehand in what might be called a 'block'position, another movement is called for to

  • bridge over this space (between third andfirst position), and this movement is thefunction of the thumb. The thumb,preceding the hand, relaxes the wrist andhelps draw the hand back to first position.But great care must be taken that thethumb is not moved until the first fingerwill have been played; otherwise therewill be a tendency to flatten. In theillustration the indication for the thumb isplaced after the note played by the firstfinger.

    "The inviolable law of beautiful playing isthat there must be no angles. As I haveshown you, right and left hand codinate.The fiddle hand is preparing the change ofposition, while the change of strings isprepared by the right hand. And alwaysthe slides in the left hand are prepared bythe last played finger--_the last playedfinger is the true guide to smooth

  • progression_--just as the bow handprepares the slides in the last playedbowing. There should be no such thing asjumping and trusting in Providence to landright, and a curse ought to be laid on thosewho let their fingers leave the fingerboard.None who develop this fundamental aspectof all good playing lose the perfect controlof position.

    "Of course there are a hundred _nuances_of technic (into which the quality of goodtaste enters largely) that one could talk ofat length: phrasing, and the subtle thingshappening in the bow arm that influence it;_spiccato_, whose whole secret is findingthe right point of balance in the bow and,with light finger control, never allowing itto leave the string. I've never been able tosee the virtue of octaves or the logic ofdouble-stops. Like tenths, one plays ordoes not play them. But do they add one

  • iota of beauty to violin music? I doubt it!And, after all, it is the poetry of playingthat counts. All violin playing in its essenceis the quest for color; its perfection, thatsubtle art which hides art, and which is sorarely understood."

    "Could you give me a few guiding rules, afew Beatitudes, as it were, for the seriousstudent to follow?" I asked Mr. Hartmann.Though the artist smiled at the idea ofBeatitudes for the violinist, yet he wasfinally amiable enough to give me thefollowing, telling me I would have to takethem for what they were worth:


    "Blessed are they who early in lifeapproach Bach, for their love and

  • veneration for music will multiply with theyears.

    "Blessed are they who remember theirown early struggles, for their mercifulcriticism will help others to a greaterachievement and furtherance of the DivineArt.

    "Blessed are they who know their ownlimitations, for they shall have joy in theaccomplishment of others.

    "Blessed are they who revere theteachers--their own or those of others--andwho remember them with credit.

    "Blessed are they who, revering the oldmasters, seek out the newer ones and donot begrudge them a hearing or two.

    "Blessed are they who work in obscurity,

  • nor sound the trumpet, for Art has everbeen for the few, and shuns the vulgarblare of ignorance.

    "Blessed are they whom men revile asfuturists and modernists, for Art can evolveonly through the medium of iconoclasticspirits.

    "Blessed are they who unflinchingly servetheir Art, for thus only is their happiness tobe gained.

    "Blessed are they who have manyenemies, for square pegs will never fit intoround holes."


    Arthur Hartmann, like Kreisler, Elman,

  • Maud Powell and others of his colleagues,has enriched the literature of the violinwith some notably fine transcriptions. Andit is a subject on which he has well-definedopinions and regarding which he makescertain distinctions: "An 'arrangement,'" hesaid, "as a rule, is a purely commercialaffair, into which neither art nor theticsenter. It usually consists in writing off themelody of a song--in other words, playingthe 'tune' on an instrument instead ofhearing it sung with words--or in the caseof a piano composition, in writing off theupper voice, leaving the rest intact,regardless of sonority, tone-color or eveneffectiveness, and, furthermore, withoutconsideration of the idiomatic principles ofthe instrument to which the adaptation wasmeant to fit.

    "A 'transcription,' on the other hand, canbe raised to the dignity of an art-work.

  • Indeed, at times it may even surpass theoriginal, in the quality of thought broughtinto the work, the delicate and sympathetictreatment and by the many subtleties*which an artist can introduce to make itthoroughly a _re-creation_ of his choseninstrument.

    *Transcriber's note: Original text read"subleties".

    "It is the transcriber's privilege--providinghe be sufficiently the artist to approach thepersonality of another artist withreverence--to donate his own gifts ofingenuity, and to exercise his judgment ineither adding, omitting, harmonically orotherwise embellishing the work (_whilepreserving the original idea andcharacteristics_), so as to thoroughly_re-create_ it, so completely destroyingthe very sensing of the original _timbre_

  • that one involuntarily exclaims, 'Truly, thisnever was anything but a violin piece!' It isthis, the blending and fusion of twopersonalities in the achievement of anart-ideal, that is the result of a trueadaptation.

    "Among the transcriptions I have mostenjoyed making were those of Debussy's_Il pleure dans mon coeur_, and _La Filleaux cheveaux de lin_. Debussy was mycherished friend, and they represent alabor of love. Though Debussy was not,generally speaking, an advocate oftranscriptions, he liked these, and Iremember when I first played _La Fille auxcheveaux de lin_ for him, and came to a bitof counterpoint I had introduced in theviolin melody, whistling the harmonics, henodded approvingly with a '_pas be !_'(Not stupid, that!)


    "Debussy came near writing a violin piecefor me once!" continued Mr. Hartmann,and brought out a folio containing lettersthe great impressionist had written him.They were a delightful revelation of thehuman side of Debussy's character, andMr. Hartmann kindly consented to thequotation of one bearing on the _Poe_ forviolin which Debussy had promised towrite for him, and which, alas, owing to hisillness and other reasons, never actuallycame to be written:

    "Dear Friend:

    "Of course I am working a great dealnow, because I feel the need of writingmusic, and would find it difficult to buildan aeroplane; yet at times Music is

  • ill-natured, even toward those who loveher most! Then I take my little daughterand my hat and go walking in the Bois deBoulogne, where one meets people who

    have come from afar to bore themselvesin Paris.

    "I think of you, I might even say I am inneed of you (assume an air of exaltationand bow, if you please!) As to the_Poe_ for violin, you may rest assuredthat I will write i